Folk/Black Metal has been en vogue for a long time now and there still are new bands coming through trying their luck in this by now pretty (over)crowded market place. Originally formed in 2007 under the name of NORDHEIM, the band changed its name to ALTVATER (German for “oldfather“) in 2009 and released one demo and now this album, titled „Chroniken“.
Album is a big word, since the seven tracks don’t even reach 30 minutes, but hey, as long as the quality is right, I don’t give that much on the playing time (other than potentially wanting more, of course), but unfortunately ALTVATER’s debut doesn’t really leave me wanting for more, at least in terms of time. Overall the description of Folk/Black or Pagan/Black Metal is fairly fitting, with harsh vocals, sometimes jaunty melody and shrieked vocals, so it is not misleading, as so often in these styles the keyboards also play a fairly important role in the sound and also as so often they can be fairly obtrusive and overused, but there are bands out there that still manage to get things channelled into the right direction.
With ALTVATER, though, that is not quite the case, with the keyboards being the least of their problems, I have to say in their defence. The main issue is that most of the songs are just plainly flat-out uninspiring and boring. There we go, I said the bad “b” word. While not being bad in itself, the majority of tracks just doesn’t hold anything of real interest that you haven’t heard elsewhere countless times and, most of all, better. But not all is hopeless, “Schreckenssteppe” features a nice swift rhythm and jaunty melody and is just a good song, if the vocals weren’t so one-dimensional and the epic touch in the keyboards of “Seelenschmiede” also adds to the whole, even though they are not quite there yet, the will to bring in some interesting elements is there, though.
So…in the big book, where countless bands are releasing demos, albums and more, “Chroniken” unfortunately is nothing more than a footnote, one with some potential, but also one that still needs a lot of work to get into the actual story. For now I can’t recommend ALTVATER to the fans out there, but let’s keep an eye and an ear open and see what happens.
(Online October 15, 2010)