German Pagan Metal is nothing new anymore, especially, if coming out of Thuringia or Bavaria and FESTUNG NEBELBURG is a representative from the Bavarian Forest. I had first come in touch with Nattulv (also with NORDFROST and WOLFCHANT) through the title track “Gabreta Hyle” a while before he signed with Blood Fire Death Productions and it was a nice surprise to see him getting inked that relatively soon, so that I now can review 10 tracks than just replay one...
Anyways, FESTUNG NEBELBURG is a hybrid between Pagan, Black and Folk Metal, with a few traditional Metal influences thrown in for good measure, with Nattulv not only handling the instruments, but also both the screamed and clear vocals, so talk about a one-man effort here. What sets them/him apart from most of his genre-colleagues is the fact that he does not only utilize German lyrics, but his concept is based on myths from Lower Bavaria, so a slightly different touch in a very populated genre of late.
And despite the many bad reviews that “Gabreta Hyle” has received by now, I still enjoy it, the riff and energy of the opening title track is just addicting and the clear vocals might not be stellar, but fit well with the song, so definitely a very good start to this debut. Unfortunately in a few of the following tracks one factor hits the books on the negative side: Nattulv’s clear vocals. Not always, but here and there he doesn’t quite hit the right notes, especially if he tries to sing deeper, quite effectively reaching his limits on these occasions (“Der Eindringling”). But at the same time he manages to keep up the good work in the riff and melody department, where he shows his talent for energetic, flowing and well-structured song writing, I particularly enjoy “Die Goldnen Fische Vom Arbersee”, where the clear vocals definitely add to the mix once more.
If you understand German, some of the lyrics might seem a little naïve, but they are no worse than most of the comparable English counterparts, knowing some of the legends that Nattulv processes here, I also know that this simply is the German they usually are told in, so if you’re not happy with it, too bad for you. But I digress... “Herbstnebel” is another fine example of the different elements working together very effectively, including completely acoustic breakdowns and closing “Wintersonnwende” also graces the ears with some wonderful melodies.
All in all there still is room for improvement (would be bad, if Nattulv had already peaked), especially in some cleanly sung passages, but he shows lots of potential and I am already looking forward to hearing more material, as “Gabreta Hyle” stands out in the Pagan Metal genre thanks to its riffing and some of the melodies, which are absolutely worth hearing!
(Online March 12, 2008)