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Daring melodies - 94%

Nargodath, November 19th, 2006

This album is far more melodic and "clean" than the stuff I usually review, and yet its' charms quickly caught my ear when it came up on my playlist. It's always good to have a reminder that there is more top-notch folk metal out there to discover, after I'd gotten tired of Korpiklaani and their "Northern Beer Metal" ilk.

Nevertheless, on the scale of folk metal, going from heavily blackened (i.e. early Falkenbach or Isengard) to heavily power metal-influenced (Elvenking) Nerthus is all over the map. The production is good, as is to be expected, and all the musicians are definitely pros. The music is melodic on nearly every existing level. Epic and sudden reverse scales reminiscent of Anthems-era Emperor mix with swirling organ melodies that could come from a lost Summoning album (now there's a quest for Indiana Jones!) There are also touches of Windir in the languid and yet epic (yes, I'm going to use that word quite a bit here...) guitar solos and triumphant marches. For once, virtuousity is employed in the service of a worthy design.

The drumming is extremely tight, although it doesn't play an especially important role in the music. There's the occasional light blastbeat, but most of the time the drummer just keeps time for the "march" sections. The whirring percussion toy used to "set off" the music is annoying, however. The vocals, on the other hand, are the most intriguing part of the package. On a few songs the singer approaches a black metal screech, but most of the time he sounds like Tom Angelripper trying to be Dracula--not a bad thing! The spacing of the lyrics probably has something to do with the Sodom comparison in my mind. While he sometimes sounds a little too cheesy, on the whole his vocals are a good companion to the, yes, epic guitars.

Recommended if you enjoy well-played and thoughtful metal with a dramatic side.