Slechtvalk (the Dutch word for peregrine falcon) is an extreme metal band from The Netherlands, formed in 1999. The band has achieved chart success in the metal circles of its country, and the Dutch press sometimes refers to them as the country's best black metal band. Previously signed to Fear Dark Record and currently to Whirlwind Records, the group has released four albums, a split-CD with Kekal, a single and a DVD. The second album, The War That Plagues the Lands, reached #2 at Lowland's Top 50 Metal Charts. The third album, At the Dawn of War, coincided with the release of a live-DVD, Upon the Fields of Battle, and a maxisi
Slechtvalk (the Dutch word for peregrine falcon) is an extreme metal band from The Netherlands, formed in 1999. The band has achieved chart success in the metal circles of its country, and the Dutch press sometimes refers to them as the country's best black metal band. Previously signed to Fear Dark Record and currently to Whirlwind Records, the group has released four albums, a split-CD with Kekal, a single and a DVD. The second album, The War That Plagues the Lands, reached #2 at Lowland's Top 50 Metal Charts. The third album, At the Dawn of War, coincided with the release of a live-DVD, Upon the Fields of Battle, and a maxisingle for "Thunder of War." A music video was shot for the song, achieving airplay on Dutch music programs. The band's fourth album A Forlorn Throne was released on July 16, 2010.
Slechtvalk plays extreme metal with folk influences, as well as strong musical loans from symphonic metal. Lyrical themes include fantasy, epic medieval wars and Vikings.
Slechtvalk began as a solo project by singer/guitarist Shamgar, formerly of Ascension and Mordax. The project was first Dommer (1999-2000), before Shamgar finally settled on Slechtvalk. The debut album, Falconry, was released in 2000 by the now-defunct Dutch label Fear Dark which had bands such as Eluveitie, Royal Anguish, Taketh and Kekal on its roster. Musically the album represented a symphonic black metal style. According to Shamgar, the album "sold more copies than most other black/viking metal releases".
Falconry was received positively, and Dutch metal magazines such as Aardschok interviewed Shamgar. As a result of this exposure, Shamgar was in the position to form a band, and was joined by soprano singer Fionnghuala, folk singer and rhythm guitarist Ohtar (also with Dutch folk metal band Heidevolk), bassist Nath, drummer Grimbold, keyboardist Sorgier, and dancer Meallá.
In 2002 Slechtvalk released their second full-length album, The War That Plagues the Lands. As a teaser they first released a split CD with Kekal from Indonesia (also signed on Fear Dark); both bands recorded four songs and a cover (Slechtvalk covered Antestor's "Kongsblod", from The Return of the Black Death). Within 3 weeks The War That Plagues the Lands reached #2 in the Lowlands Top 50, the best-known Dutch metal-chart.
In March 2003 Slechtvalk toured Europe for the first time and played at several festivals in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and Sweden, as well as in The Netherlands.
The band was noticed outside Europe as well. The record company Sonnengut Music released the album for the Asian market. In Eastern Europe, the album was released by a Slovakian company called HROM Music. To strengthen their position as one of the leading black metal groups in Holland, Slechtvalk made a club tour as Serenade of Darkness' opening act.
In 2005, the band released their third album, At the Dawn of War, with a more symphonic sound and a lot of elements from folk metal. The band also incorporated more war and fantasy themes to their live shows and began dressing in medieval warrior costumes. That same year Slechtvalk released a live-DVD, Upon the Fields of Battle, filmed at the club Hedon Zwolle; a music video for "Thunder of War" (also released as a maxi single) received some airplay at local music channels. The band toured several European countries with Frosthardr.
During early 2006 the band was joined by Grimbold's brother Seraph as a guitarist, as Ohtar was not able to continue playing the guitars due to a chronic wrist injury. In July 2006, the Fionnghuala left the group to focus on her classical music career. Slechtvalk began writing new material and announced that the music would take a more technical and brutal approach.
In February 2007, the bassist Nath was removed from the line-up: Ohtar, who was able to play again, picked up on bass. In late 2007 keyboard-player Hydrith announced his departure to focus more on his family. Since then, Slechtvalk performed without keyboards (playing their more extreme songs) or with session-musicians.
On April 2009, the band signed with German-based Whirlwind Records. On October 2009 Whirlwind releases a compilation album titled An Era of Bloodshed of the band's past material with two unreleased promotional songs. Nath--now known as Premnath--recently re-joined the band as a keyboard-player. The band is currently preparing for a European tour to promote the up-coming album, and inviting fans to join them on SellaBand.com to help financially support the tour plans. The band went to Sweden's Studio Mega in late 2009 with producer Johan "the ant" Örnborg to record their fourth full-length album titled A Forlorn Throne. It was mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street, and the cover artwork as well as a new logo was designed by Raymond Swanland. With the album the band's style changed from symphonic and folk influenced black metal to epic extreme metal with death, black and viking metal influences. The album was internationally released on July 16. Metal Exposure webzine gave the album eight points out of ten, and the reviewer stated that the album "will be one of the best cd-releases of 2010 in the black/viking metal scene".
Slechtvalk uses various elements in their sound, including "death metal, doom metal, folk metal, viking metal, modern black metal and classical music". The band's sound is most reminiscent of black metal or viking metal, though the band "tend to see it much wider. Sometimes we simply call ourselves dark metal, because that style-name can mean anything, just like we can sound like anything.“
The lyrics of Slechtvalk tell stories about a fantasy realm created by Shamgar who states to be "greatly inspired by the works of Tolkien and many short stories I've written in the past for my own use" and that his saga is based on "all the things I've experienced in my own life".
An interviewer noted that there are "rumours about Christian beliefs inside the band" as far as The Encyclopedia of Dutch Black Metal defining the band as "Christian black metal". Shamgar admitted that the debut album contains "rather explicit Christian lyrics" and notes that it was a phase in his personal spiritual journey where he was "expected" to write such themes and has since stated that "as a band we do not have any religious message. Because religion has been misused by governments to oppress the people, I believe that everyone should decide for him or herself what deities he or she wants to believe in." Despite the statements, the band still faces some biases: On July 13, the band stated that their concert with Enslaved was canceled because "after some mails from certain narrow-minded individuals, the management of Enslaved got the impression that Slechtvalk is some kind of evangelizing metal band in veins of Stryper. According to the management, Enslaved does not to play with religious or political motivated bands." The band stated that there was a misunderstanding and that Slechtvalk exists because they enjoy playing metal and they keep their opinions to themselves.
* Shamgar - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
* Seraph - lead guitar
* Ohtar - bass guitar, vocals
* Premnath - keyboards
* Grimbold - drums
* Falconry (2000)
* The War That Plagues the Lands (2002)
* At the Dawn of War (2005)
* A Forlorn Throne (2010)
* Chaos & Warfare (Split-CD with Kekal) (2002 Fear Dark Records)
* Upon the Fields of Battle (DVD) (2005 Fear Dark Records)
* Thunder Of War (CD-Single) (2005 Fear Dark Records)
* An Era of Bloodshed (Compilation album) (2009)