Metal Review – Nothgard: Age of Pandora

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Metal Review – Nothgard: Age of Pandora
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Nothgard: Age of Pandora
Melodic Death Metal, Pagan Metal
Trollzorn Records
September 12th, 2014
Release length: 49:14
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Germany’s Nothgard initially formed in 2008 under the name Nordavind, changing it roughly a year later before issuing their first Demo. This recording was enough to catch the attention of Black Bards, the label responsible to issuing their debut full-length Warhorns of Midgard in 2011. That same year a new drummer named Ziegler joined the ranks, followed by rhythm guitarist Skaahl in 2013. It’s now 2014 and the five-piece are signed with Trollzorn Records to issue their follow-up album Age of Pandora. But is it a solid example of Melodic Death Metal, or is it far from impressive?

Well, Age of Pandora definitely doesn’t tread into any relatively new territory. “Of Light and Shadow” carries a dismal sensation that feels like gazing at a battlefield near the end of conflict. Once past the Hollywood film score or Nightwish-grade build up, “Age of Pandora” greets you with wonder, quickly fading to an energetic aggression behind one hook after another guaranteed to get the pit churning and your neck muscles burning with it’s Blackguard similar material and traces of Children of Bodom. While far from unique, the whimsical elements found in the hooks and keyboards do help seperate it a bit, especially at the end when those very keyboards find a brief solo that leads to the most enthusiastic conclusion of the release.

“Black Witch Venture” shows a little more Folk influence to the lyrics and structuring at times. The harsher lead into the good guitar solo adds a bit of abrassiveness to the mildly sterile digital mastering, while the chanting in the chorus feels slightly empowering before the surprisingly crushing end that pushes deeper distortions and the bass guitar to the forefront for a brief amount of time. That instrument continues to take a backseat most of the album, though “Mossback Children” does bring it back out in the short bridges that carry a bit of an Oompa vibe. The start of this, however, stirs up an interesting backwoods redneck tone that is unfortunately not touched upon again.

“In Blood Remained” is one of the few that truly stand out with a little extra depth. The Folkish elements are more abundant here, though the tighter chords and harsher vocals do bring in some of the group’s aforementioned Pagan Metal influence as a baseline for the atmosphere. The additional female clean singing for the chorus and additional choir voice in the distance towards the end sound great, while the closing after the solid guitar solo takes on a somewhat darker tone, both of which keeping the first of those two elements alive as much as possible. “Obey the King” has a little hostility in the mix amid traces of Neoclassical guitar work in some of the leads and bridges, all the while the slight hum of the bass guitar really shines through. And then there’s “Wings of Dawn,” which shows a bit of a Power Metal influence on par with Sabaton towards the chorus. Even some of the main verses have it as an undertone against some high speed music, creating a vibrant song you’ll immediately be addicted too.

While Age of Pandora is a good album, it’s just another drop in the bucket for Folk tinged Melodic Death Metal groups to the point where this sounds like the first Blackguard album that came off like nothing but Children of Bodom worship. Aside them, references can also be made to bands like Kalmah, Suidakra, Eluveitie, and so many others. And, as mentioned above, the incredibly crisp digital output finds much of the bite neutralized, leaving only a few tracks to really grab you to where you bob your head along obediently. But even with that crippling fault, it’s impossible to ignore the enthusiasm captured from the studio. This, along with the powerhouse that is “Winds of Dawn,” makes it clear that Nothgard is the kind of band that will leave you crippled in the pit more than in your car, living room, bedroom, or any other fine place you may happen to listen to music.

01. Of Light and Shadow – 2:26
02. Age of Pandora – 4:59
03. Blackened Seed – 4:50
04. Black Witch Venture – 5:54
05. In Blood Remained – 4:34
06. Anima – 4:49
07. Obey the King – 5:32
08. Wings of Dawn – 4:30
09. Mossback Children – 4:22
10. No One Holds the Crown – 7:19
Initial Pressing Score: 6.5/10

Nothgard
Nothgard

Digital review copy of this release provided by Trollzorn Records via Metalmessage PR.