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Dzo-nga – Thunder In The Mountains

Thunder In The Mountains
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 05 March 2020, 4:06 AM

DZO-NGA is an American Atmospheric Black Metal band from Boston.  “Thunder In The Mountains,” is their third full length album.  They have also released an EP, split, and a compilation. The depth of this album is astounding—it has such a wide range of scope and is the true definition of epic.  Layers upon layers build upon well-arranged songs for an album that requires multiple listens.  Not only is there a lot going on that requires you go to back to fully absorb, but this is also music where you are constantly discovering new aspects.  In essence, this is the audio version of nooks and crannies but it never feels cramped or like there is too much going on.  Each instrument, each note, has a definite place within the song but is still wildly adventurous.  I will say, however, that some of the more distorted riffs can get lost in the shuffle, in addition to the bass being a bit buried.

When I first heard this album, I never would had though the drums were programmed—but they are.  Honestly, this is some of the best sounding computerized drums I’ve ever heard.  They sound crisp, full, and really on point with complimenting the songs. One aspect I really appreciate about “Thunder In The Mountains,” is the run time.  Despite the epic nature of the songs, they are not long winded.  The six songs create an album that is just under 47 minutes in length.  This makes for an easy listen despite how much content the songs give the listener.  The variety included doesn’t hurt things either—especially the vocals.  A couple different clean singing styles present themselves and, of course, Blackened screams.  Although rooted in Black Metal, the album also has a very heavy folk influences from the keys, flutes, and violins.

The almost eleven-minute opening track, “The Song Of Hiawatha,” begins with acoustic guitars and smooth, clean vocals.  About two minutes in, the Black and Folks elements mix in, swirling together to create a Metal tornado that takes all the different elements and throws them back out into a long and coherent song. Grushenka’s gentle but lush vocals are the prefect combo with Cryvas’ own cleans and screams.  The vocal lines/lyrics are used sparingly enough across the music, so it manages to avoid the typical “beauty and the beast,” combo style. The album can speak in shorter journey’s though—one of the best tracks, “Flames In The Sky,” is just over five minutes in length.  This song is definitely one the more ferocious on the album and very metallic in approach.  Those melodic riffs a little over halfway through the song show the band willing to show off a different side of themselves even after such fury.

My personal favorite is “A Soul To Burn.”  Beautiful yet sorrow tinged violin plays over the barrage of drums and the light markings of flute.  The song is both tense and somewhat bouncy at the same time, the folk elements adding a playful atmosphere without sacrificing the intensity or making the song too corny.  The clean melodic section around the five-minute mark flows perfectly both in and out of the rest of the song.  Despite the many elements and transitions, the whole album has perfect flow.

The Death of Minnehaha,” is the final track and contains all the elements of the previous tracks for both a strong ending and decent overview of what the whole album is about.  Some of the album’s better guitar-based moments are contained with the tracks eleven-and-a-half-minute runtime, such as the galloping riffs at the four minute mark and the melodic riffs around the six and half to seven minute mark. All in all, “Thunder In The Mountains,” is a near perfect example of how to do Atmospheric metal right.   For a journey you won’t soon forget, this album needs to be in your collection.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. The Song of Hiawatha
2. Heart of Coal
3. Flames In The Sky
4. A Soul To Burn
5. Starlight, Moonlight, Firelight
6. The Death of Minnehaha
Grushenka Odegard – Vocals
Cryvas – Vocals, Guitars, Keys, Wood flute
Ray King - Bass
Record Label: Avantgarde Music


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