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Title: Katharsis
Artist: Dunkelschön
Genre: Medieval / Folk Rock
Release Date: 11th September 2009
Label: Screaming Banshee


DUNKELSCHÖN have been around since 2004, and have ever since been connected with the medieval / folk scene. Nevertheless one gets to notice very quickly that DUNKELSCHÖN are far more than just your average medieval band that simply delivers the background music to your local medieval fairs. Having expanded their line-up with more modern instruments such as the cello and the drums in recent times, DUNKELSCHÖN are not afraid to take risks and are in fact very open for a clash between tradition and modernity. They have also become known for a very diverse and versatile musical direction that transports the most different atmospheres and emotions to the listeners. From mystic, melancholic ballads over rockier stuff to dark musical interpretations of Traditionals or fictional fairytales - DUNKELSCHÖN deliver all of that, and a lot more. And it is in fact this grand variety in DUNKELSCHÖN’s sound and this extraordinary take on many different things which really gained them some necessary attention and eventually made them stick out of the mass of medieval/folk bands.

Album Review

‘Katharsis’ is the band’s fourth album, and at the same time the first with the new line-up. As I had already stated above, DUNKELSCHÖN appears to be a band whose music is characterized by a high extent of diversity and variety - and ‘Katharsis’ in fact gives proof to that. The many instruments that the band uses (e.g. the hurdy-gurdy, nyckelharpa, harp, several flutes, and a bouzouki, only to name a few!) really suit the music, give way for a lot of details that you might not catch at first (or even second and third) listen, and that also make the songs sound very “full” and sophisticated.

What is also striking is the fact that they are singing in quite a lot of different languages on the album. While songs like ‘Dein Gedenken’, ‘Deine Flammen’, and ‘Askath’ are sung in the band’s mother tongue German, there is also a song with French lyrics (‘Mon Ami’) and a song with English lyrics (‘Quit Lands’). Apart from that, some songs also contain fantasy languages or just onomatopoetic elements in order to accompany the music. This can be seen in songs such as ‘Kristallen der Fina’ or ‘Mion Mar’ where the made-up words shall really help to emphasize the melody and arrangement of the respective songs. ‘Mion Mar’ might also be the song that reminds the most of typical medieval and folk music, due to the excessive use of traditional instruments. The alternating onomatopoetic singing of Vanessa and Michael also contributes to that atmosphere, and this duet-like singing can also be noticed in other songs, such as ‘Lacrima’. ‘Lacrima’ itself is another highlight of the album with its mix of German language and made-up words, and because of its darker, more melancholic atmosphere. It also features a nice acoustic guitar intro and has a rockier element to it that suits the band well.

This rockier element can also be found in tracks such as ‘Askath’ where one can well hear the drums, and also in the song ‘Deine Flammen’ which also has this melancholic vibe, brought about by Vanessa’s hypnotic singing that is also more of a spoken word performance in the beginning. This song is also marked by a change in tempo and memorable flute tunes at the end of the song. While there are also very powerful and energetic songs on the album (especially because of the expressive vocals and the broad instrumental variety), the band also does not forget to include some calmer, more ballad-like tunes with songs such as ‘Quit Lands’ and ‘Dein Gedenken’. With ‘Haganusa’ and ‘Aeris’, the album also features two very impressive instrumentals (which are the two last tracks of the album), the latter of which contains authentic chirping of birds and then goes over into a bonus track which then completely abandons the instruments and only presents Vanessa’s beautiful voice to the listener.

All in all, one can say that this is a very ambitious and diverse album that pays a lot of attention to detail and that will most likely surprise even those listeners who might not be that familiar with folk/medieval tunes (such as me) or who have grown tired of the mass of bands in that genre. It will be exciting to see what this band will have in store for us in the future!


01. Mandaliet
02. Kristallen der Fina
03. Askath, die weißen Raben
04. Lacrima
05. Mon Ami
06. Deine Flammen
07. Dein Gedenken
08. Mion Mar
09. Quiet Lands
10. Haganusa
11. Aeris

Line Up

Vanessa Istvan - Vocals, Various Futes
Michael Kaiser - Nyckelharpa, Harp, Hurdy-Gurdy, Bouzouki, Vocals
Nicolas von Stolzmann - Vocals, Guitar, Irish Bouzouki, Hurdy-Gurdy
Christian Wittkopf - Drums, Davul, Darabuca, Calimba, Shruti Box
Monika Klüpfel - Cello, Vocals
André Straub - Drums

Website /

Cover Picture


Music: 8
Sound: 8
Extras: Bonus Track
Total: 8 / 10


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