Nothgard come from the melodic death sect, but their forte comes with a dose of epic. Giving the Nothgard roster a once-over, you find accomplished moves; Wolfchant’s Skaahl (rhythm guitars) joined the band a few years ago, and co-founder and guitarist Dom is now a member of Equilibrium; not only does this hint at extra potential pushing Nothgard’s second full-length, Age of Pandora, but the album serves as a pleasant reminder that harmony still has a place within the toughest styles of metal. A more detailed inspection of Age of Pandora reveals racy guitars and busy, glorious tones to get you feeling invincible.
“Of Light and Shadow” locks in the mood with a triumphant, soundtrack spirit; adding to this vastness, the title track blossoms into colorful phrases and punishing harsh vocals. After these numbers, “Blackened Seed” and “Black Witch Venture” adopt staccato-directed approaches to deliver festively choppy rhythms to guide listeners.
Lively twin leads swarm around the beginning of “Obey the King,” and Equilibrium fans will be delighted to find that the track also features a guest appearance from Robse. Before dissolving into the formulas, “Mossback Children”‘s intro gathers a few samples that are outside of the box. With more relaxed chord changes, “No One Holds the Crown” unwinds to a soundtrack-like ending, getting well in sync with the album’s opener.
Age of Pandora‘s victorious feel makes for an empowering listening experience, but this isn’t the only technique employed. The dexterous delivery by way of the guitars signals a power metal flavor, especially the many solos that spring up on the tracks. Rushing percussion and busy lyrics equal very few idle moments on the record. While melodies are dazzling enough to keep engagement up, unforgettable performances are found in the catchy rhythms of “Blackened Seed” and the vibrant strands of notes on “Wings of Dawn.” To top that, the sense of precision here is unbelievable. If you’re a melodic death metal diehard and like your songs with the extra fluff and frills, you won’t want to pass this record up.
(Age of Pandora is out Sept. 12. Pre-order here.)