Slechtvalk

“Falconry” (9 tracks. 44:02).

Shamgar of Slechtvalk has aspired to great Black Metal heights by listing such influences as Antestor and Darkthrone, Dimmu Borgir and Horde, Emperor, Thyrfing and so on. I must say that he is very convincing. This is a great boon on the side of Christians who want to compete seriously in the secular marketplace, because now we have another CD to point to that is LEGITIMATE. For those readers who are only familiar with the Christian bands listed above, Slechtvalk’s music is more akin to Antestor’s “Return of the Black Death” album than the Horde album. It does, however, contain an occasional melody, and a considerable amount of keyboards. It is also faster with less melancholy feel. For those who are only familiar with the non-Christian bands listed above, I think the best comparison would be “For All Tid” era Dimmu Borgir with a dose of Darkthrone a la “A Blaze in the Northern Sky”. I am also tempted to mention Thyrfing, but since I only have their first album, I cannot be sure. In any event, Slechtvalk represents the coalescence of about a decade of Black Metal into a fresh new act. The guitars are raw and fast, competently played, but well produced. The drums are pounding, almost Death Metal style. The keyboards add mood and occasional melody, but are never overpowering. They give that symphonic feel that many great Black Metal bands have developed. Finally, Shamgar never seems to run out of creativity. Each song stands on its own, each with its own tempo, feel, and chord arrangement. This isn’t some kid with a drum machine, cheap guitar, and four track recorder. It is a legitimate album that I place alongside any release from Hammerheart or Napalm Records.

INTERVIEW WITH SHAMGAR OF SLECHTVALK 2001

CRITICALTOM: Tell me a little about why you decided to go with the name "Slechtvalk".

SHAMGAR: Well, I needed a name for my project. After seeing a documentary about falcons I was deeply impressed by the Peregrine Falcon, so I decided to name my project "Slechtvalk" which is Dutch for Peregrine Falcon.

CRITICALTOM: Your listed musical influences are similar to mine. Why do you think it is we Christians who are not afraid to listen to bands like Darkthrone while such bands are not likely to listen to Christian bands?

SHAMGAR: Several Christians don’t want to listen to bands like Darkthrone, but aside from that Satanists hate Christians, so they will never accept anything we do.

CRITICALTOM: What do you think are your chances for breaking into the secular scene? Any prospects?

SHAMGAR: I got some great reviews in the important national secular zines in Holland and Belgium (Aardshock for one, ed.), but since most people already know I am Christian, only those who are interested in Christianity, or just don't care about it will perhaps buy the album. I don't think I will ever reach the popularity bands like Marduk, Darkthrone and Immortal have, but perhaps Slechtvalk will make some name. Time will tell.

CRITICALTOM: How do you personally respond to critics who say Christians have no business in Metal (of any kind)?

SHAMGAR: I mostly ignore them. I don’t think the music is per definition Evil or bad or something like that. People who say that most often also say "Christians have no business in this world whatsoever", which makes them practically the same as someone like Adolf Hitler.

CRITICALTOM: Do you have anything new in the works? Do you have any other projects?

SHAMGAR: I have some new songs ranging from fast oldschool black metal to slow dark metal. I don't have any side projects, because I am too busy with Slechtvalk and my study and stuff.

CRITICALTOM: What is the Metal scene like in your country (secular and Christian)?

SHAMGAR: The secular scene is pretty anti-Christian (anyway the part that I know of is), the Christian scene is very small and much less organized. The Christian black metal scene here is practically non-existing except for a hand full of people perhaps.

CRITICALTOM: It must be really cool to work with Fear Dark. It seems to give me a lot of hope . . .

SHAMGAR: It is! I rather be with Fear Dark than a label like Cacophonous or Necropolis. I know I can trust the people of Fear Dark and I don’t know if I can trust the people of the secular labels. (Antestor sure learned about Cacophanous, didn’t they? –ed.) And things seem to work out fine under Fear Dark. So at this moment I have no real need for another label.

CRITICALTOM: Will you ever have a band to tour with?

SHAMGAR: I hope so. Like I said, the Christian metal scene here is very small, especially the Christian black metal scene. It is very hard to form a band if you don’t have that many friends who could join. I hope some good musicians will show interest in Slechtvalk, otherwise I will never be able to play a gig.

CRITICALTOM: What would you like to say to someone who has never heard you?

SHAMGAR: Check out my site at Slechtvalk download some samples and listen to them!

CRITICALTOM: Any last words?

SHAMGAR: Stay strong in the Lord even when things get tough!

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Various

“Glory Hallelujah Amen” (10 tracks. 46:49).
Anyone who misses the glory days of Christian Metal bands like Deliverance, Tourniquet, Vengeance Rising, and Mortification will very much want to check this out. While there are great Metal labels out there covering Christian bands (i.e., Endtimes, Little Rose, Laceration, Rowe), Fear Dark is the label covering the bands which most resemble those 1990’s greats. The other Christian labels are great and I enjoy their releases, but they mostly cover Black Metal and the more up-to-date brutal Death Metal or hardcore. Fear Dark also has an excellent—perhaps the best Christian Black Metal act in Sletchvalk—but three-fifths of the bands on this CD fit in that Thrash/Death category the aforementioned bands were famous for in the 1990’s. I’m referring to Sculpture, Tefilla, and Salutary. The CD begins with Tefilla’s “The Judge” and ends with a pre-mix of the song “Scenes Beyond the Grave”. After Tefilla’s first track there are two from Sculpture: “A Contemplation of David” and “Spiritual Matrix”. Both are remixes. Other featured bands are Finland’s Jacks of All Trades and Salida from the Netherlands. Both are best described as something like rap-core or nu-metal. They provide the modern edge for the more adolescent aged music buyers. I’ll stick with the glory days music of Tefilla, Sculpture, and Salutary. As a matter of fact, I’m going to buy them!

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