Slartibartfass - Funkenfeur

Track Listing: 
  1. Schleier der Vergangenheit
  2. Ein Ruf aus fernen Zeiten
  3. Der letzte Winter
  4. Funkenfeuer
  5. Die Mär von der schönen Lau
  6. Schwabenkinder
  7. Einst träumte ich...
  8. ...von ungefühlten Nächten
  9. Stimme des Windes

Get ready to have your mind blown with this masterpiece! Slartibartfass are truly something special as they deliver their unique brank of viking/ folk metal. Focusing heavily on atmosphere rather than trying to have the cookie cutter sound of growls and melodic death metal guitars, Slartibartfass employ a whole new level of instruments such as accordion, keyboards, piano, and best of all: bagpipes. Sure, their latest album, Funkenfuer, features its share of black metal inspired snarls and chugging guitars, but compared to many other viking metal or folk bands out there who go for the extreme side of things, Slartibartfass just sits in the middle, cranking out different tracks with each hit, and in the end surpassing everything in both style and grace.

Funkenfeur's atmospheric focus is displayed right from the start. Both the first two tracks are instrumental and sound more like they came off the Lord Of The Rings soundtrack rather than a metal album. "Schleier der Vergangenheit" features some fantastic bagpipe work along with a very low, warbling horn that is just pure melodic genius, and then "Ein Ruf aus fernen Zeiten" continues the track through the keyboards by sounding much more ambient and symphonic, like the end of a great victory battle. Just when fans may start to get bored and wonder where the metal is in all this beauty, "Der letzte Winter" strikes and features some heavy guitar licks mixed with the keyboards in the background and the drums pummeling away. The bagpipes are there too and add great dynamic to the music. Add the vocals to snarl away and listeners will have some pretty awesome black metal. The music is styled more in chugging, layered riffs, coming off more as a hard rock album. Every once in a while the guitars will shut up and the bagpipes will do a solo, but mostly expect a lot of catchy chords with the keyboards moaning away in the background. The title track is truly an experimental one as it starts out with some grand piano before launching into the buzzing chords. The music is a bit more sealmess here with the way the chords flow, but suddenly things quiet down and then these techno beats come into play, followed by the vocals being extremely raw and throaty. For those that are off put, this spectacle is short lived because the guitars chug their way back in for a bit before giving way to the bass to perform a few notes, which is very rare in viking metal these days. Overall the track is still heavily guitar driven, but the keyboards try to take things to a more symphonic level, adding a whole layer of epic proportions to what Slartibartfass try to accomplish.

"Die Mär von der schönen Lau" has some great bagpipe work again to go along with the piano and guitars, dividing the song up into a soft, folk inspired part and then the other half heavy and metal inspired. "Einst träumte ich..." is a two part song split between tracks. The first half is an acoustic guitar performance, and the continuing next track is a more straightforward viking metal one. There's a bit more aggressive qualities here compared to the earlier tracks; most of the melody comes from the keyboard while the drums are skull splitters and the guitars just grind away with the vocals. Finally, the last track delivers one more dose of unexpected melody by featuring ringing bells behind the slow picked melody of an acoustic guitar. Eventually a flute joins in to build up the suspense with the marching drums, and then everything explodes into crushing metal. Of course, it isn't entirely crushing as the bagpipes try to fuse a jig in with the guitars, and eventually everything quiets down for a bit to let the keyboards choke something out. Overall, the song is extremely dancy and listeners won't be able to help but jump up and down in excitement to it. The guitars are strongly melodic and rock influenced, with the drums keeping a steady pace and even though they sound brain dead at times, are enjoyable enough. Leave it to a grand closing from the piano and the track is nothing short of epic.

It is very hard to find something this fresh and unique, especially when it is well put together. Slartibartfass should be extremely proud of their accomplishment with this album. It is so atmospheric and also melodically brutal on a level of perfection that there is very little to dislike about the album. There's a lot going on here, but never enough to make it seem like things are overdone. Hails to Funkenfeur for being the possible masterpiece of viking metal for 2010!

Label Name: 
Ketzer Records