Faun – Midgard (2016) – Review

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First, we need to get back down to earth. It’s a bit like one of those old satellites that re-enter the atmosphere before they burn and crash onto lands unknown. I have never seen a hype quite like the one Faun went through once they changed style and direction, first on Von den Elben and then followed by Luna. And a totally negative one at that.

Now, before I start on Midgard, let’s just remember that this record charted at #3 in Germany and lasted there for 13 friggin’ weeks. So, there must be something that pleases the mean fan crowd out there.

Oh, and before I forget it, Luna finally made it to Gold as well and again in Germany in 2014. So, all ye heathens and critical voices out there, let the numbers speak to you before you sacrifice the band yet again on Odin’s altar at Yule. Pun intended.

It is indeed true that Von den Elben gorged with sometimes low-level foreign content and stuff that kinda seemed propped up onto a band with already stellar capabilities. Engaging with a big label is sometimes like losing your soul to the devil and your finances too. And in this case, this was pretty much apparent.

But since Luna arrived on the scene, Faun worked on controlling their message a bit better. And they got results to show for it.

So, luckily and the horrible intro apart, Midgard kinda takes off with a pretty lusty tune. Federkleid already sets the tone with something the former fans will definitely not relish. But with its light tone and kinda catchy melody, this track will please most fans. Sonnenreigen (Lughnasad) hits the beat in the same vein. Which leads to a refreshingly light start of an album I quite dreaded opening.

The band also got rid of this army of deathly clones that came in the form of guest musicians. This fucking Tower of Babylon that seemed to serve no other purpose than to totally confuse the audience.

True, we still got at least one on Midgard, and that is perfectly fine. This time the honor goes to Einar Solvik of Wardruna and formerly of Gorgoroth. You know, the ones in cahoots with characters like Gaahl, and responsible for pigs on stakes and females lashed to inversed crosses.

Now, his contribution is the track Odin that got quite some positive vibes from the ethereal yesterday’s boys and girls. Yet, those need to have a care with whom they associate themselves. You might very well end up facing Hannibal the Cannibal and an outcome hardly to your liking.

But back to Midgard.

The fans of the leafy realm will this time find much more to their taste. Nacht des Nordens exudes a reasonable earthy taste. And so do the two parts of Alba II, the follow-on from the one on Eden of 2011. The aforementioned Odin stomps its way into the overall mystical conscience with this steady beat that has the taste of Heilung all over it. But then, Wardruna have been at the source of it, so – yeah.

Midgard truly dazzles with this potpourri of fresh tunes like Sonnenreigen or – again – traditional ballads like Rabenballade. You know, the one that mixes the text of the English traditional folk song The Three Ravens with the Scottish piece of The Twa Corbies. And this time in German language.

So, there’s debate if we get to enjoy two or three ravens and whodunnit first. I do however prefer the version of the Scots over any and all others. Interestingly, the melody found its way into many a traditional ballad, like An Alarc’h (the swan), a war song of sorts from Brittany. Now, Oliver S. Tyr‘s version is one of the better ones I had the pleasure to enjoy to date. Fleshed out with a pretty merry beat, it nonetheless took its artistic liberties with the text that made me cringe.

But let’s get to the bottom of this record.

Midgard probably is a worse balancing act between two worlds than Luna ever was. Yet, I get the feeling that Faun are about to find that magic formula. The one that will allow them to serve both sides of their decidedly complicated world.

Yet, throwing woozy pagan wailings and poppy folk at more or less equal levels into a pot did not necessarily help the quality of the record. In other words, this tracklist would have been in serious need of a substantial overhaul. Just throwing everything you got into a record in the hope that this will somehow appease anyone is simply bad thinking. And it unfortunately shows. But now it is of course way too late. This particular cat has been out of its bag for a long time.

Yet again, you cannot deny this strong pull Midgard exudes. A mix of expertly executed tracks that – once the fillers at least ignored – will continue to dazzle you. Pagan and Medieval Folk just at the right level to please. And worthy the rank it finally climbed to in the charts.

And the RMR deck crew is already looking forward to their next full-length album. There you go.

Record Rating: 6/10 | LabelUniversal | Web: Official Site
Release date: 19 August 2016

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