Released: 2004, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Upon receiving Dargaard’s latest CD back in the early summer, I listened to the first two tracks and immediately discarded it to my “not metal” pile. This past month, I was going through the pile again and thought I would give this one another shot and it really struck a chord with me. Dargaard is still, clearly NOT metal…AT ALL! However, the Austrian band’s fourth CD, RISE AND FALL, is definitely of interest to an open-minded metalhead looking for some unique, soothing music. Dargaard is made up of main composer Tharen (formerly of underground black metallers, Abigor) and female vocalist Elizabeth Toriser. Toriser’s vocals are lush, never over-the-top and couldn’t be better suited to Dargaard’s style of music—a mix of classical, Medieval, folk, goth and darkwave that serve as a break from the neck-snapping, bone-crushing, ear-splitting sounds that usually fill my speakers. Fans of early Nightwish would definitely enjoy RISE AND FALL as would those who enjoy “film score metal.” The long, sweeping instrumental passages, bombastic drums and chants, and unique instrumentation really is quite spectacular.
The nearly 11-minute title track sets the stage with atmospheric keyboards and a real ambience. Tharen does sing occasionally but Toriser is mostly left to handle the vocals. His vocals are much more subdued and act as more of a background than a lead vocal but his presence is very effective when used. “Bearer of The Flame” features powerful, grandiose chanting over top of thunderous drums and is also Toriser’s best performance. The simple acoustic guitar and other instruments go from relaxing and serene to the ethereal chants that are beyond infectious. “Niobe” has a Celtic feel to it, while “Takhsis Dance” is more Medieval in its presentation, with the latter featuring some absolutely stunning instrumentation. “Ancestors of Stone” begins with a slinky keyboard passage and turns into a song that could easily double as a film score.
Whoever believes black metal artists are a bunch of one-note hacks with nothing more to offer than poorly-produced songs about defiling Jesus Christ need look no further than Dargaard’s RISE AND FALL to stop their argument. This music is both creepy (I felt like I was witnessing some sort of ritual when I closed my eyes) and beautiful all at the same time. After my own initial dismissal, this CD is truly a sensory experience and while the typical metal elements are not there, metalheads would be wise to give this project from Tharen a chance as it really is a rewarding way to spend an hour.
KILLER KUTS: “Bearer of The Flame,” “Takhsis Dance,” “Ancestors of Stone”