Nargaroth is not a band I ever expected to be reviewing here on Resounding Footsteps. Why? It’s not because I’m not a fan (quite the opposite in fact), or the fact that he’s spend a lot of time writing black metal about black metal (in the most amusing fashion around of course), but the fact that he’s essentially black metal royalty at this point in his career. Not a single one of our readers here don’t know who he is. So why am I writing about Nargaroth now? All of what I said is true and there is the policy that we don’t review mainstream metal unless it’s truly fantastic. Well there you have your answer. Era of Threnody, Nargaroth’s latest opus, is pretty damn good. I don’t mean in a “worth the hour it takes to listen” kind of good. I mean, this is an album I wasn’t expecting and it knocked me off my feet.
We all have our preconceptions about what a band is capable after we’ve listened to them for years. Before listening to Era of Threnody, I knew Nargaroth as the band that wrote such timeless classics as “Black Metal ist Kreig” and “The Day Burzum Killed Mayhem.” As amusing and catchy as those songs admittedly are, I never thought Nargaroth would evolve beyond the meta black metal band. Well fuck me, I was wrong. Era of Threnody proves that Ash has plenty of music left in the tank. I was shocked at first, thinking I was listening to the wrong band, but no. This is Nargaroth, and this is fantastic!
It’s not just that the album threw me for a loop that I’m writing about it now, it’s because the album is amazing. If anyone else had put this out I would have been all over it from the second it came out. I struggled a bit, knowing that Nargaroth is pretty fucking big compared to my normal fair. But gods be damned, this album is too catchy, too blasphemous, too good to pass up.
The atmosphere around the album reminds me of Dissection, if Dissection had cleaner production and moved faster. Nargaroth continues his breakneck musical pace, managing to be both melodic and emotional while maintaining the inaccessibility of black metal and the virulent hatred that is supposed to be inborn in all black metal releases. Ash doesn’t just create a black metal album with Era of Threnody, he has created a truly good piece of music. He uses everything he has available to him: choirs, keyboards, and ambient soundscapes. I never thought I’d see the day that Nargaroth moved away from his ultra-raw, meta style of black metal (and to be fair he hasn’t completely moved away from it, Love is a Dog from Hell is hilarious) but Era of Threnody is a step in a new direction. It’s a direction I’m thoroughly enjoying.
Ash’s vocals are still up to par, being one of the best and most consistent vocalists around. Nargaroth’s guitars and drums still provide a damn good musical foundation and the production has improved a thousand fold from the old days. It seems to me that it’s the attitude that’s changed. The ideas are more focused, more philosophical. I love the new direction he’s going in.
I was searching for something that I could say needs improvement for the next album, but I couldn’t find anything. The album isn’t perfect (the more I think about it, the less I think a perfect metal album has really been created yet) but it’s pretty damn close to what I have always envisioned black metal to be. Thank you Ash, you magnificent bastard! Era of Threnody is not an album to wait on.
Highlights: The Agony of a Dying Phoenix, My Eternal Grief, Anguish Neverending
If you enjoyed this try: um… black metal? You don’t need recommendations for Nargaroth!
Support the artist!
- Dawn of Epiphany
- Whither Goest Thou
- Conjuction Underneath the Alpha Wheel
- …as Orphans Drifting in a Desert Night
- The Agony of a Dying Phoenix
- Epicedium to a Broken Dream
- Love Is a Dog from Hell
- Era of Threnody
- My Eternal Grief, Anguish Neverending