Nergard – Eternal White
Pride & Joy Music
Release Date: 21/05/2021
Running Time: 50:20
Review by Simon Black
Andreas Nergård has been running this Symphonic outfit for a while now and the fourth album “Eternal White” is definitely a deviation from the love child of Avantasia and Stratovarius approach of the past. Now we all know that bands need to change direction to thrive from time to time, but let’s face it, recording ensemble Metal Opera’s with a cast of thousands in a locked down Europe ain’t gonna be happening for a while, so while necessity may be the motherfucker of invention here, that doesn’t mean that some thought has not gone into pulling it off credibly.
This one has apparently been four years in the making and I am guessing lockdown caused something of a slight rethink. What this means is that they’ve kept the vocals more tightly limited to three core voices in Stefani Keogh, Andi Kravljaca and Mathias Indergård – who nonetheless make it sound way bigger by varying their styles significantly – most noticeably with Keogh who has a quite alarmingly spooky death growl to go with that classic clean Symphonic style.
This particular historical concept piece focusses on the disastrous Carolean Death March of 1790, which is the object lesson of the old adage of ‘an army marches on its stomach’ and illustrates why it’s never a good idea to invade Norway in the winter, as 3,000 soldiers can freeze to death in a remarkably short space of time.
The album doesn’t get off to a great start however – with the overly Symphonic opener ‘God Forgive My Haunted Mind’ taking far too long to get things going and sounding a bit obvious for seven minutes whilst doing it. So my strong recommendation is start with track two and go back afterwards, because the rest of the album is really well crafted and flows with ease through a variety of well-structured and delivered songs. Like most concepts, picking up the story takes repeated listens and this is no exception. It also gathers pace as it goes, which is why I recommend playing with the order on first listen, because you will appreciate the subtlety of the slow build far more once you’ve had a chance to pick out your high spots. By the time we get half way through the album tracks like ‘Beneath Northern Skies’ and the superb ‘Where No One Would Shed A Tear’ you will most likely be hooked, with the storytellers holding you in the palm of their hands in time to surprise you with one extra surprise vocal guest in the form of the fabulous Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, but hey it’s always nice when he shows up soaring at the top of the ceiling as is his want.
Musically it’s not breaking any new Symphonic ground, although it’s expertly delivered and crisply produced. What makes it work slightly above the many similar acts is the vocal tag team’s storytelling. It’s like listening to a great musical audiobook with a Metal tinge and makes a change from the majority of the genre, where the concept remains a complete mystery to all but those who crafted it and the most patient of fans.
‘Carry Me’ (Official Video)
01. God Forgive My Haunted Mind
02. Pride Of The North
03. From The Cradle To The Grave
04. Carry Me
05. Beneath Northern Skies
06. Where No One Would Shed A Tear
08. Now Barely There
09. Eternal White
10. Erasing The Memories
Stefani Keogh – Vocals
Andi Kravljaca – Vocals, Lead Guitar
Mathias Indergård – Vocals
Ørrjan Halsan – Rhythm guitars
Andreas Nergård – Drums, Keys & Orchestrations
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