Katja Moslehner left the Medieval and Pagan Folk masters Faun in 2017. If you remember, the lady joined in 2013, just in time for the release of the much-contested record Von den Elben.
Her era led trough those turbulent times that spawned the follow-on records Luna and Midgard. Albums that – together with the aforementioned Von den Elben – enjoyed (and still enjoy) an undeniable and pretty fulminant success. And this at a time where Faun faced significant attacks from an increasingly virulent fan base.
The band found a replacement vocalist in Laura Fella, often for lead vocals. This move takes a lot away from the warmer and – I daresay – more measured tonality of female contributions that took a more important role as of Luna. And indeed, Stella with her Ailyn Giménez-esque (ex Sirenia) style and somewhat nasal delivery, often strangely sits athwart the soundscape.
Now, whoever thought that Märchen & Mythen would morph into some sort of a remake of the 2009 Buch der Balladen is sorely mistaken. First, this new record is fully plugged and acoustics will stay on the backburner, some unplugged track versions notwithstanding. Second, Faun still are with Universal, so the commercially tainted song-writing will continue.
As the title suggests, Faun chose fairy tales and myths as their theme for the record. And for once, the intro is worth its salt, a truly juicy monologue. I loved the artful wordsmithing and the outstanding delivery of the speaker.
That said, Rosenrot – the first song track – bluntly continues where Von den Elben left off. A tribute to a long-dead fairy tale, on a bed of medievally tainted, poppy Folk Rock. Which is all good, would it not sacrifice a potentially good structure and content to the gods of commercialization and happily filled dance floors.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I will never advocate the Rennaissance era’s misconceptions to come back to haunt us. But for a theme based on old tales and myths, I’d expected a tad more archaics and less pop. Not that Rosenrot is without its allure.
Luckily, the following track – Seemann – immediately turns away from this distinct commercial flavor with a reasonably acoustic and pretty neatly interpreted story. Faun‘s old fan crowd will probably also appreciate tracks like Hagazussa (meaning witch in old German). It does have a subtle hypnotic quality to it, perfect for live shows. Yet, it suffers from a certain over-sampling, on a simplistic and boring single beat. Even if Oliver S. Tyr‘s interpretation is – as always – pretty compelling.
Märchen & Mythen does not contain all that much truly bad material either. Perhaps except Aschenbrödel. The one reenactment based on Karel Svoboda’s well-known melody. This one truly sounds like one of those infamous, spineless, and hyper-sweet pop songs from the ’70s. One without one single edge, and lathered in sugary cheese. What on earth were they thinking? Oh, and do check the video below, which is – come to think of it – not necessarily an improvement neither.
So it’s damn good news that you’ll encounter Die Weisse Dame a bit further down the road. If you look for perfect execution, look no further. Hauntingly performed and thoughtfully followed through, this is one track that we should have had more of on this record. This is also this one track, where Fella‘s voice comes through wonderfully.
Interestingly, the quality of the tunes improves further as the tracklist progresses. The mystic Holla, Falada or again, the old-style Thalia will surely talk to old and new fans alike. The deck crew here took a true liking to Falada and its – for this record – pretty unnatural and quite medievally flavored structure.
Finally, Märchen & Mythen contained much less sweetish, poppy Folk Rock than I initially feared. It also is very apparent that Faun did a lot of background work in the run-up to the album and this selection of tales. And they did not go the easy route either, judging by their choice of tales and lyrics.
Again, Faun managed to create a thoughtful piece that will compel with its quiet proficiency and pretty tasty tunes. And – to my surprise – the record did not turn out to be easy fare. But – to the contrary – a piece that will need your serious attention.
A bunch of tales for cold winter evenings, to be consumed without moderation. And well done, too.
Get dat tune: