Nergard – Eternal White (Pride & Joy Music)

Tuesday, 1st June 2021
Rating: 8/10

Beginning in 2010 as a studio project for Norwegian musician Andreas Nergård, the two Nergard albums to date have assembled renowned musicians to execute the man’s symphonic metal vision. Artists like Elize Ryd, Ralf Scheepers, Mike Vescera, Michelle Luppi, David Reece, and Nils K. Rue among others have appeared – setting the stage for the third album Eternal White. Sticking to a trio of international singers this time around (outside of a special guest performance from Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens), these ten tracks showcase a theatrical outlook to the genre, along with a conceptual story based on the 1719 Carolean Death March, when 3000 Swedish and Finnish soldiers froze to death after retreat during a failed Norwegian invasion.

Much like Avantasia, Nightwish, and Kamelot, the three singers place themselves in proper context as they each have rich registers to encompass all the varied emotions and textures necessary. Andi Kravljaca (ex-Seventh Wonder), Stefani Keogh (from the UK) and fellow Norwegian Mathias Molund Indergård approach a majestic Kamelot-like symphonic track like “Downfall” with grace, passion and charm, trading off verse lines and harmonizing as if they’ve played together for years. The keyboard/ orchestration load doesn’t diminish the crunchy guitars and driving rhythm section work – although it’s nice to have some energetic melodic hooks that mesh well with the vocals as “Pride of the North” illustrates, the mid-tempo transition during the mid-section pure gold for infectious audience appreciation. The pacing of the material from conventional, energetic songs to the more sweeping, dramatic turns keeps attention at peak values, highlights including the slow burning title track as well as seven-minute plus opener “God Forgive My Haunted Mind”. The latter throws every bell and whistle in the symphonic playbook (choirs, orchestration, diverse tempo changes, heightened tension) beyond a killer bass line and steady guitar foundation to perk up your brain.

The occasional use of blackened/extreme-style vocals for specific chilling atmosphere textures isn’t as convincing as the main voices – but this is a minor drawback that doesn’t deter the listener from full on enjoyment. Most followers of symphonic-oriented metal with theatrical bursts of bombast and power should delight in Eternal White top to bottom.

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