Pride & Joy Music [release date 21.04.21]
Norwegian musician/songwriter/producer, Andreas Nergard creates symphonic experiences which enthrall audiences. The fact that he uses “Metal” as his chosen vehicle is almost incidental. You could add that the fact he uses voices is almost incidental too.
This is his third full studio album, this time with a settled line up, which includes one female and two male vocalists.
Eternal White tells the harrowing story of the 18th century Carolean Death March, when 3000 Swedish and Finish soldiers froze to death after an abortive attempt to invade neighbouring Norway. So, it’s clearly not a happy tale, but one that is ripe for dramatisation. These tragedies live long in the memory of nations.
Nergard goes about his business with a quiet, religious intensity, marrying conventional instrumentation – guitars, bass, drums – to strings, brass and woodwinds. His real skill is in matching the music with the dramatic events portrayed in the story, and sometimes vice versa. So much so that the mildly militaristic ‘Pride Of The North’ would work well even without the narrative. The operatic choral sounds do the heavy lifting, not the words. And in places, it’s the music telling us the story, not the lyrics.
That said, ‘From The Cradle To The Grave’, a song about loyalty, has a fabulously melodic chorus, urged on by spine tingling orchestration. It’s a majestic piece of music…one of the album’s defining moments, where even the soloing axework sounds regal, earnest, and eminently tuneful.
‘Carry Me’, sung by Stefani Keogh, is an exception to the prevailing style. An emotional piece of pop/rock/metal with a spiritual message. With Keogh going from restrained to all in and back again. It gives the album the transition it needs at this point.
Then ‘Beneath Northern Skies’ collapses both musical styles – Symphonic rock and Pop metal – into one exciting piece of music. These variations might be a little unsettling for the single perspective metal fan, you don’t know what’s going to happen next. But that’s the point when you’re telling a story. Keep your audience on the edge of its seat.
With the right support, Nergard could make a genuine piece of theatre, literally, out of this album, not just a live performance. Roll on. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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