Released: 2014, Svarga Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Having forged a majestic incarnation of Pagan Black Metal, one man band Zgard has returned for his fourth output Contemplation. The record shifts away from the former cosmic spheres to a more organic sound whist retaining his trademark folk dynamics.
After a windswept howling in the distance, the female fronted vocals set the tone for ’Highlands’ as the blistering drumming and droning guitars wade in. The raspy vocals coarse with raw vitality as the track glides along with drum pounds and symphonic undertones that come further into play around halfway. The pace picks up with charging riffs, blistering shrikes and clean vocals, giving everything a grandiose scale quality.
Next up, ‘Through the Forest’ comes loaded with blood thirsty screams, blast beats and impressive guitar work. The tightly woven keys remain prominent and don’t waver amidst the heavier instrumentation giving the band a well refined sound that is necessary for music as heavily layered as this. The eccentric lead guitar takes flight and drives forward into an exhilarating ride that remains consistent throughout.
For the most part the record remains fairly consistent with plenty of interesting ideas being thrown about the place. From the multi layered vocal arrangement of ‘Incarnation Memory’, with it’s more obscure moments, to the more folk transitions within ‘Wedge of Cranes’. Another notably aspect of this song is the venomous wails and solid bass work that keeps everything locked in throughout the intense journey.
‘Silence’ provides some respite as the harp driven melodies breeze past effortlessly and feel more like an instrumental cleansing than an interlude. What’s more, the band refrain from the often cliché sounding folk scores that so many bands fall into.
Finishing off with ’Underworld Bells’ the guttural vocals waste no time carving out a tortured narrative within the opening minutes . The guitars retain their urgency as the drum work fortifies the dense sounding weightiness.
Yaromisl has certainly pulled out all the stops with this record through his versatile range of influences and meticulously crafted song structures. When it comes to diversity he not only delivers but is also able to throw so much into one song and keep you hooked throughout to the point where each track is a standout in there out way.