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Harvst - Narbenhain - 93%

Edmund Sackbauer, December 30th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Schattenpfade (Limited edition, Digisleeve)

Before having even hit the play button I had to admire the glorious artwork of the debut full length “Narbenhain” by this young and talented German band/project. The mystic picture and the colors used for the painting totally got me into the right mood and I am glad to report that the quality of the music is on par with the visuals. Harvst consist of Wynthar (also being active in Frostreich) who has done all instruments and vocalist Dornh. Together they have created a stunning piece of art being even more impressive as this is their first work.

The typical tremolo picks and the pummeling blasts can be found here as well and build the basis of Havst’s music. While each black metal band puts a lot of emphasis on building a sinister atmosphere Harvst have gone even a bit further compared to their peers. I would not go as far as labelling this album as atmospheric black metal as the main focus is still on the riffs and the relentless drum attacks but there are a lot of desperate and haunting harmonies dwelling in the background. Eerie themes presented by the lead guitar are always present – sometimes more subtle and in other places as leading elements defining certain parts of the song.

The greatest aspect of the album is how the harmonies of the lead guitars have been woven into the whole picture and how they work as contrast to the aggressive attacks of the main chords. Harvst have a fantastic talent for creating haunting and beautiful melodies that feel melancholic and depressive but also offer a glimmer of hope at the same time. They have worked with the interaction of musky moments and lighter pieces and have melted all those elements into one great piece of sinister art. The ambient soundscapes dwelling in the dark and some acoustic pieces build a fantastic and gloomy atmosphere.

Beside the spectacular guitar work also the rhythm section has to be mentioned. The drumming is precise following the main patterns of each song and highlighting several sections where an extra portion of intensity is needed. Most of the time it is kept pretty laid-back underlining the quite stoic and atmospheric nature of the music. A gloomy atmosphere is something that is very important for this record and thankfully it has been taken care that things never get too hectic or chaotic to destroy the mood. Although the instrumental skills of Wynthar are obvious most emphasis has been put on a stringent and clearly structured songwriting.

The vocals delivered by Dornh are perfectly fitting coming across desperate and haunting. The production is thick and heavy but there is enough room to breathe for each instrument. No detail has been lost in the mix and can be noticed while carefully listening. Overall I can only recommend to consume “Narbenhain” as a whole as the stringent flow of the music and the subtle variation of similar signature themes over the whole playing time make this album one connected piece of musical art. Highly recommended for cold and foggy days.