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(60:32, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. In the Mist of Morning 5:58 2. Expectations 5:29 3. Mysterious Ways 7:05 4. In the Woods 3:52 5. Elegy 8:59 6. Forcing 5:00 7. Frozen 6:20 8. The Tide 4:45 9. Make Me Believe 8:31 10. Elegy Epilog 2:51 LINEUP: Daniel Solheim guitars; keyboards; flute; vocals Jostein Skjonberg keyboards; flute; voice Guro Strand guitars; keyboards Sissel Os keyboards; voice Ketil Berg drums; voice Knud Strand bass
Prolusion. The Norwegian outfit NORDAGUST was formed in 1999 and ever since has been actively scoring demo tapes. In 2010 the band landed a deal with its native label Karisma Records, and late in the fall the same year it made its official debut with the production "In the Mist of Morning".
Analysis. The so-called Scandinavian prog scene has been a vital one for the last couple of decades, both when it comes to acts exploring the classic symphonic sound of the 70's as well as for acts with a more experimental nature to their expression. The latter in particular exemplified by many artists active in or inspired by the metal scene. With Nordagust we're served a band that to some extent may be described as utilizing assorted aspects of the latter in a manner with the foundation in the former that is using an experimental approach to a stylistic expression with something of a foundation in the symphonic side of the art rock universe. The end result may be described as a cross between late 70's Pink Floyd and The 3rd And The Mortal. Dark, brooding atmospheres, liberally spiced with sad and melancholic details, are on display from start to finish on this album. The main musical ingredient is multilayered keyboard textures, slowly fluctuating in a symphonic-inspired manner throughout and always at the forefront of the themes explored. The rather unique lead vocals, light and dramatic with a pitch and slightly dramatic delivery of a kind I believe should appeal to fans of Peter Hammill, add an emphasis to the darkness and general sadness of these songs, while extensive use of crying and wailing guitar details and solos further focus emotional associations contrary to anything positively laden. Drawn-out riffs and slow, compact riff patterns further enhance the brooding and haunting qualities, and a number of details culled from or inspired by folk music attach a particular feeling of longing to these tracks as an additional trait. And while most pieces contain passages of a gentler nature, the most prevalent feature is richly layered, majestic sounding and compact themes. Mix and production focus on a warm and organic sound, arguably the dimension of this album with most references back to the vintage 70's art rock sound. And while the album as a whole might be described as just a tad too repetitive in the choice of arrangements and overall sound, the unique aspects of the end result make a strong and positive impression, as long as you're a fan of the overall approach and the compositional and musical details emphasized throughout.
Conclusion. If you tend to like the brooding atmospheres of acts like The 3rd And The Mortal and you love the sound of late 70's Pink Floyd, Nordagust has crafted a debut album that should appeal to you. While something of an acquired taste at times, the bands dark and distinct compositions have a unique touch to them that might be described as symphonic art rock of a kind well-suited to act as the soundtrack for The Book of Revelations or a fitting score for a movie documenting the apocalypse, and well worth checking out by those who find these descriptions tantalizing.
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