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Nothgard - The Sinner's Sake

Nothgard
The Sinner's Sake
by Daniel R. Warnes at 22 October 2016, 11:15 AM

This is a band that has flown under my own radar until now. As much of a name as Germany’s NOTHGARD are making for themselves, I was previously unfamiliar with their music. As it happens, “The Sinner’s Sake” is an album most easy to come to grips with. NOTHGARD fancy themselves an Epic Melodic Death Metal band, and the tag certainly fits with what is going on within this record. “Glittering Shades” opens this album as an orchestrated composition with a cinematic quality that puts the listener straight in regards to the intent of the musicians behind this creation. It suggests ambition and the desire to strike out as a force within this world of metal music. “From Lambs To Lions”, the title alone confirms this to be the mind-set. Here we find the band executing a form of music that can be best described as a combination of Power Metal and Melodic Death Metal. Much of the song, including Dom R. Crey’s harsh vocals and the heavier side of the guitar work show the band having some kinship with ARCH ENEMY and even a somewhat progressive nature reminiscent of some of AMORPHIS’ works, and certainly a somewhat folky edge that ENSIFERUM fans should eat up. That said, there is a tuneful sound to the whole song that screams Power Metal, in a similar style to KAMELOT’s more bombastic moments. In the style with which the song is pieced together, you can hear a Neo-Classical knowledge of music, which even the heaviest and most angular riffs will reflect.

Even as early into the album as “The Sinner’s Sake”, it becomes very clear that the keyboard elements are downplayed on this record. Instead, they add a flicker of classy atmosphere to the flurrying riffs, allowing the lead guitar work to take centre stage. There’s a possible comparison to CHILDREN OF BODOM to be made here, though it would feel lazy and only half-true.  “Iron Sights” is one point where the record fails to move forward at all. By comparison to the two songs prior, it feels rather too cheesy and musically pedestrian. Even an instantly recognizable Jeff Loomis guitar solo does little to save this song from grating on the nerves as it falls into a worn-out structural formula that certainly doesn’t reflect the ambitious nature on the earlier songs. “Death Unites”, with its mid-paced march and greater use of the symphonic elements of NOTHGARD’s sound sounds like a song that is ready-made for festival crowds to enjoy in the height of next year’s summer but again, it fails to push this record closer towards the climax that was promised to us in the beginning.

The production job on this album is crystal clear and does make use of all the modern amenities found in any good mixing desk’s repertoire. There are moments and flashes of sound that are carefully placed to add an extra dimension to the admirable musical collage that is presented at points through “The Sinner’s Sake”. Obviously though; a good production and a good album are not one and the same. “Descendants Of The Sun” displays a thoughtful nature that is more in keeping with the record’s early promise, though it would be easy to see this as too little too late after the comparatively dull slump that the record took at the midway point. “Last Child Standing” thrusts the band further into the CHILDREN OF BODOM-like shredding territory and delivers a heavier and more frantic form of attack, balanced out by some beautiful keyboard flourishes.

“Sin Eater” is where this record reaches its final conclusion and it is a cheesy yet satisfying conclusion that carries more in common with a closing number in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical than it does with any conventional metal band. There are equal parts subtle grace and grand statement in this song, with its duet vocal performance from Crey and the talented singer Jen Majura, most known as the current EVANESCENCE guitarist. However, the song and album ends very suddenly, offering no faint idea as to where the band may head next and one cannot help but feel severely short-changed by the songwriting department of this band.  The climactic moment suggested at the start of this record never truly surfaces, almost as if the record is unfinished or NOTHGARD simply ran dry of inspiration half-way through. As many individual elements as there are to love about this record, it’s hard to regard it as a cohesive whole. For anyone else who listens to this record as a means to delve into this band that we’ve heard so much about, like me; you may struggle to figure out what the big deal is.

Songwriting: 4
Originality: 6
Memorability: 4
Production: 7

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Glittering Shade
2. From Lambs To Lions
3. The Sinner’s Sake
4. Iron Sights
5. Death Unites Us
6. Shadow Play
7. Descendants Of The Sun
8. Last Child Standing
9. Draining Veins
10. When Gods Cry
11. Sin Eater
Lineup:
Dom R. Crey – Vocals, Lead Guitar
Dominik Z – Drums
Skaahl – Rhythm Guitar
Nico Kolja – Bass, Backing Vocals
Record Label: NoiseArt Records
     


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