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Nergard – Eternal White Award winner

Nergard
Eternal White
by Leanne Evans at 19 May 2021, 6:48 AM

How does one describe the brilliance of NERGARD? Well, you could say that NERGARD is renowned for its innate ability to compose pure blistering power in all forms, and you could also say that NERGARD is one-of-a-kind and head and shoulders above its peers. But, to put it simply, the prowess of NERGARD is one that is so magnificent, a stroke of mellifluous genius, that it is utterly indescribable. Since 2010, NERGARD has produced nothing short of an immense catalogue of symphonic power of considerable virtuosity, executing divine compositions, with limitless ambition, and gifting the metal world with its vision for cementing compelling narratives in sonics. NERGARD was born from the vision of the talented Norwegian, Andreas Nergård, who had a desire to create a studio project fronted by renowned guest artists from around the world. Prominent and accomplished vocalists and musicians embraced NERGARD in their droves, including Elize Ryd, Ralf Scheepers, Göran Edman, Mike Vescera, Michelle Luppi, Tony Mills, David Reece, Michael Eriksen, Nils K. Rue and countless others. Andreas pursued his desires and pushed NERGARD to gargantuan heights, ultimately performing at prestigious shows, such as opening for the legendary STRATOVARIUS on the main stage at the Trondheim Metal Fest in 2015, as well as NERGARD performing their own sold-out shows. Ever the creator of the newfound, and always one step ahead, Andreas created a new era of wonderment for NERGARD and solidified its legacy by grouping a steady line-up of permanent vocalists in the form of the talented multinational trio Stefani Keogh, Andi Kravljaca and Mathias Molund Indergård.

The legacy of NERGARD marches forward, and another chapter of its mesmerizing story continues, its captivating story telling commences once again in the band’s latest release “Eternal White”. The glorious new release morphs NERGARD’s addictively symphonic sound to deeply dark depths, sonically reliving the tragic story of the Carolean Death March of 1719, when 3,000 Swedish and Finnish soldiers froze to death during the retreat from the failed invasion of Norway. The epic story is told over ten magnificent tracks, plunging the listener to the front-line of the plight of the soldiers on an emotive journey through sound. Please brace yourself to feel every trouble, every tear, every drop of pain, hurt, sorrow, everything.

Powerful atmospheric sound bursts through in “God Forgive My Haunted Mind”. Lamentations and reflection pour through honeyed vocals, with focus on deep bass lines and powerful vocal harmonies to create urgency and a sense of a troubled mind that’s being pulled from pillar to post, much like the tempo that is pulled back and forth. The guitar work offers some simplistic, but very additive riffs that enhance the frantic nature of the composition, courtesy of Tomas and Ørjan, and throughout the track, you clearly experience the mental turmoil of the soldiers, the resignation, the hope, the despair; it’s an incredibly powerful intro to “Eternal White”. Incidentally, this track features the full trio of NERGARD’s singers, and their synergy is clear for the listener to savor, it really is a fabulous composition to immerse yourself in. The atmospheric magic continues in “Pride of the North”, where everything literally bursts with pride in imposing orchestral wonder and captivating power surges through in layers of instrumental and boisterous vocals.

The build-up and seamless narrative that NERGARD create in “Eternal White” is simply divine, something of celestial quality that is as effortless as it is beauteous. A personal highlight of the album comes in the form of “From the Cradle to the Grave”, a composition that dominates with certitude and a track that showcases Stefani’s vocal diversity brilliantly. Her tone ranges from the operatic, smooth and clean, through to the rasped and almost guttural; combined with Mathias’ sturdy projection, and all the grandiose instrumental execution, accompanied with Andreas’ raging drums that ravage through, this is SOME piece and utterly sublime. The same can be said for “Carry Me”, another one of my personal favourites from “Eternal White”, a flawless composition that sensitively complements Stefani’s beautiful honeyed vocal projection. There’s enough power pomposity for the listener to relish, but without it being too overwhelming to spoil the sense of hope that the track conveys, and allows Stefani to simply project her angelic sweetness.

At the halfway point, the impassioned track, “Beneath Northern Skies” imposes strings, menacing bass line and with almost immediate double-bass drumming, blistering with a battle-like mindset, but more of an introspective struggle. Lyrics such as “I’m out of your sight/ Not out of your mind/As long I’m there, I’ll be alright” pull on your heart strings and emit desolation and hope, the predominant male vocals work gloriously and the vocal harmonies with Stefani complement the sorrowful aspect. Marching forward, “Where No One Would Shed a Tear” bursts with aggression and desperation and pulls a slightly different vocal intro to the track, which is a pleasant surprise (I’ll leave you to discover this for yourself!). The keys on this composition are phenomenal and guitar work is flawless; “Eternal White” just gets better and better, which I really didn’t think was possible, given how fantastic a listen it’s already been!

The key to “Eternal White” is about creating atmospheric magic, something which is absolutely on-point in “Downfall”. The ominous intro of dissonance makes for an evocative and haunting piece, yet the tempo really ramps up and the rhythm races – with a special mention to Andi for his inhumanly fast keyboard solo that’s to die for - conveying the confusion of the emotional state, and pensive reflection perfectly, only enhanced further by Mathias and Stefani’s vocal collaboration. Vocal delivery plays a huge part in the atmospheric brilliance of NERGARD, as seen in “Now Barely Three”, featuring the inimitable Tim “Ripper” Owens of JUDAS PRIEST and ex-ICED EARTH, with his sensational voice being the centerpiece in the track, and Stefani transforming her delivery to an aggressive growl akin to the style of Alyssa White-Gluz. The positive addition of yet another well-established name in metal is reminiscent of NERGARD’s roots and a welcome feature on the album, creating yet another facet to the plight of the thematic. The penultimate composition comes in the form of title-track “Eternal White”, a powerful mid-tempo and, in moments, quite sultry piece, with Andi shining once more in both vocals and stunning guitar work. The climactic finale comes in the form of the beautifully pensive “Erasing the Memories”, a goosebump-inducing masterpiece with Mathias’ gorgeous vocals absolutely melting you and Andi’s stunning guitar solo that gives your goosebumps, goosebumps! Wow!

Crafted with meticulous precision, and executed with exquisite finesse, “Eternal White” is a sensational triumph for NERGARD. Listening to the album, my mind was blown by the immense talent and dazzling virtuosity of every angle of each composition. The heartbreak set in for me when the enthralling sonic sanctuary “Eternal White” had enshrouded me in, for nearly an hour, came to an end. Bravo, NERGARD, you’ve produced a timeless work of art!

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. God Forgive My Haunted Mind
2. Pride of the North
3. From the Cradle to the Grave
4. Carry Me
5. Beneath Northern Skies
6. Where No One Would Shed a Tear
7. Downfall
8. Now Barely Three
9. Eternal White
10. Erasing the Memories
Lineup:
Stefani Keogh – Vocals
Andi Kravljaca – Vocals, Guitar Solos and Keyboard Solo in “Downfall”
Mathias Molund Indergård – Vocals
Ørjan Halasan – Rhythm Guitars
Tomas Nergård – Lead Guitar on “God Forgive My Haunted Mind”
Andreas Nergård – Drums and Keys
Jon Tore Dombu - Bass
Record Label: Pride & Joy Music
     


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