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Era of Mediocrity - 50%

Demiror_Moritur, May 19th, 2017

I have to start the review by saying guest/session musicians aren't something I am a big fan of, and there's a particular reason for this. I believe a band's music should have a certain “trademark” sound to it, and, even if stylistic changes can sometimes improve the overall quality of their releases, sudden or very harsh shifts in lineup aren't something that tends to affect the resulting product very positively, at least in my experience as a fan. According to the available information on this album's lineup, Ash has left the music entirely up to two (rather new, I may add) session musicians from other bands. This would be totally fine in my book, if they actually had had something to do with the band in the past at all, since that'd mean that, at least, they were there to actively witness the development of the solo project that Nargaroth was supposed to be, but, apparently, they haven't. I can only interpret this sudden appearance of two complete strangers to the band who completely take over the drums and guitar work as Ash' intention to, somehow, somewhat renovate his sound and allow other personal perspectives and musical ideas to converge and flow into his music, giving it a fresh new look and sound. I am not too sure this works here, though.

Not being a big fan of this band myself, although it was one of the bands I came across when discovering the genre long ago, I can still say that I had high expectations for this new 2017 Nargaroth record. I really wanted him to shine through all the bitching and bad publicity he has had to bear over the years for some of his past releases, that have been incessantly mocked by fans from all parts of the world for wanting to be way too uptight and serious when in reality they seem nothing but fake and infantile. I really would have liked this record to be a grand “fuck you” to all those people who doubt the man behind Nargaroth, and I think he missed a pretty great chance to have it be just that. My disappointment encompasses far more than merely the instrumental component of this release, though. Actually, I'd dare to say the music is the only redeeming trait of this album, as the scarce moments of quality are only to be witnessed in the musical realm of the album. Let me be clear: the vocals are shit. I could be okay with this fact, if Ash had actually made an effort in any other department of the album, but being limited to doing ONLY the vocal work, yet still failing to deliver something of quality, is somewhat unforgivable.

The album fails, not only when trying to sound good, but also when trying to sound epic, or magnificent, or even prophetically poetic, at times (embarrassingly so). The little lyrics I was able to get a hold of sound like mere beating around the bush, and the topics at hand are very much akin to beating a dead horse. Instead of cutting to the chase and saying what he actually wanted to say, and complaining about whatever he actually wanted to complain about, Ash (in case he even wrote the lyrics himself, something I'm now suspicious about as well) decided to, in turn, censor himself, probably for whatever consequences his statements may have, since he very well knows he's in the public eye in Germany, and saying the wrong things can easily get you in trouble with the “higher-ups”, if you catch my drift.

Still, with all this being said, there ARE moments of brilliance in this album, something that makes me like it regardless. I mean, at least it's a pleasant listen. Having high hopes for something isn't always the best way to tackle it, since it's easy to be disappointed, but I never said this was anyone's fault, but mine. I was the one who really expected something good to come out this project, yet I was met with a simply OK album instead. Black metal ist tot.