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Dzö-nga – The Sachem’s Tales Award winner

The Sachem’s Tales
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 06 September 2017, 7:41 AM

From Boston, Massachusetts, USA, comes the duo DZO-NGA, a Black/Folk Metal band who is releasing their second full-length album, titled, “The Sachem’s Tales,” which contains seven tracks. The band took their name from the legend of a demon who is sent to haunt the mountain Kangchenjunga, located partly in Nepal and partly in India. A “sachem” is the title given to a leader in the American Indian nation. I love it when bands incorporate lore into the meaning of their music. This promises to be a mystical ride. The short instrumental “Midewiwin Lounge” opens the album, with the sound of thunder and soft rains, and a solitary howl of a wolf. Strings provide the sound here; delicate notes from cello and acoustical guitar. The rain continues as the nine-minute “To the Great Salt Water” is introduced. It has a muted production and a folky, pagan type of sound. The enchanting female clean vocals are a nice contrast to the barrage of double bass drumming that lie underneath. The harsh male vocals are bitter and enraged shrieks of emotional outburst.

“The Wolves Fell Quiet” has an ambient opening with piano and light percussion, and a more audible bass guitar which just fits into the sound very nicely. Following an intense and harrowing passage of cascading Black Metal torment, an ethereal passage ensues which draws you in to the beauty like a Siren on the shores of an island. Look away however, because her wrath will consume you. “Halle Ravine” is shorter than the previous two tracks and has a simple and frail beauty that is organic. Though it may seem out of place on a Black Metal album, this type of sound constitutes the more folky, pagan type of music that is often present with bands who explore all the recesses of the genre. Seemingly innocuous if you are not paying attention, winds pick up towards the end of the track, as the chimes sound with warning, seguing into “Against the Northern Wind.” From the start, the sound is much darker and more ominous. As the bass drums thud in machine gun fashion like a marching army of undead on the move, the harsh vocal shrieks send chills down your spine. Combined with the clean female vocals, it is just such a profound juxtaposition that few bands have accomplished at that level. It ends in haunting organ notes that echo the main melody of the track.

“A Seventh Age of Fire” is an opus over nine minutes. A comfortable opening in 3/4 and a three-chord pattern of melody dances underneath fierce Black Metal vocals. There is a lot of layering and building here in this song, which is as graceful and composed as it is barbarous and savage. This is an outstanding track for sure. “The Witching Meadow” is a three-minute final curtain call for what has been a very pleasurable listening experience. The sounds of nature after the sun goes down has skillful piano, string, and guitar passages, and a seductive rhythm that ends things on a positive and hopeful note. This is a fantastic album in the area of Atmospheric Black Metal that really takes advantage of a host of other sounds, some bright and some dark, to pare down some of the pungent sound that the more intense side of Black Metal offers as all too overwhelming. There is quite a lot of charm here blooming at every turn.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Midewiwin Lodge
2. To The Great Salt Water
3. The Wolves Fell Quiet
4. Halle Ravine
5. Against the Northern Wind
6. A Seventh Age of Fire
7. The Witching Meadow
Cryvas – Instruments, Vocals
Grushenka Ødegård – Vocals
Aaron Maloney – Session Drums
Lilith Astaroth – Guest Vocals
Record Label: Avantgarde Music


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