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Nargaroth – Era of Threnody Award winner

Era of Threnody
by Erika Kuenstler at 12 April 2017, 4:11 PM

One of the most renown bands to come out of the Black Metal scene in Germany is NARGAROTH, a band from which little has been heard over the last few years. After this extended break, 2017 sees them return with their seventh full-length album, entitled “Era of Threnody”, due for release on May 16th. For many bands, the production of an album follows an almost automated and cyclical process: tour and promote the last album, take a breather, realise it's time for the next album, write something because you feel you have to, record the new album, then go back on tour. Over and over. But with “Era of Threnody” we see something different: a more personal journey. After a personal upheaval, Ash exiled himself from the status quo, and set out coddiwompling, with this journey taking him to remote corners of the world, where the lyrics for this album were written.

Given the long break, it's perhaps fitting that “Era of Threnody” is a lengthy affair, incorporating 10 songs and spanning over an hour. Starting off with “Dawn of Epiphany”, spacey background atmosphere is overlaid by philosophical musings about our place in life and how striving for perfection only leads to dissatisfaction. This gives way to what will be a very unexpected direction for many fans: the inclusion of Flamenco music. Mixing this with Black Metal may sound like a recipe for disaster, but it actually works surprisingly well for the most part, especially in songs like “…as Orphans Drifting in a Desert Night” or the title song “Era of Threnody”. Having said that, some of the transitions between the darker, more turbulent parts on the album and some of the mellower sections can be a bit abrupt, and the discordance on “Conjunction Underneath the Alpha Wheel” can also take some getting used to. In his life as in his music, Ash seems to wander wherever the wind blows him. Possibly because of this, the soundscapes he weaves into his music are meandering, highlighted by both moments of beauty and of turmoil. Some sections captivate you with their intricate fragility, whilst others make you chafe at the sections that don't fit like you think they should.

Perhaps one of the strongest songs comes at the apex of the album: “The Agony of a Dying Phoenix” is a swirling nightmare interspersed with moments of grandeur that gave me goosebumps. If you only take the time to listen to one song on this album, let it be this one. Which is not to say that this is the only highlight of the album. The dreamy melody on the title song “Era of Threnody” is spellbinding, whilst “Love Is a Dog from Hell” on the other hand is a catchy almost Black 'n Roll song with a lyrical theme everyone can get behind at one or the other point in life. Then there is the fist-pumping, infectious tune of “TXFO”, which will be absolutely killer live.

Listening to Black Metal songs written with major chords can take a bit of effort to wrap your head around, as minor keys are the golden standard strived for by most of the industry. But as in so many things, here NARGAROTH are happy in their own niche, and “Era of Threnody” clearly shows how well this works. On the downside though, the vocals are occasionally mixed too far in the foreground, which is a pity, as there are some truly interesting things going on with the instruments which get somewhat drowned out. If you'd like to find out more about the thematic background of the album, be sure to check out the videos on NARGAROTH's facebook page. And if you happen to be in Europe in May, check out NARGAROTH on their upcoming tour. My personal tip: Try catch them at Dark Troll Festival. Not only will you get to see a whole host of other fantastic bands, but with its setting in the ruins of a keep, this is really one of the most scenic and beautiful festivals I've ever been to.

Memorability: 7
Production: 6
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Dawn of Epiphany
2. Whither Goest Thou
3. Conjunction Underneath the Alpha Wheel
4. …as Orphans Drifting in a Desert Night
5. The Agony of a Dying Phoenix
6. Epicedium to a Broken Dream
7. Love Is a Dog from Hell
8. Era of Threnody
10. My Eternal Grief, Anguish Neverending
Ash - Lyrics, all vocals
Bernth - Guitars, Bass and Samples
Krimh - Drums
Renata V - Whispers and Choir Vocals
Record Label: Inter Arma Productions


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