Zgard - _Reclusion_
(BadMoodMan Music, 2012)
by: Chaim Drishner (8.5 out of 10)
_Reclusion_ is an anomaly for a label such as Solitude Productions and its sub label BadMoodMan, due to the fact this album is probably the first and only black metal recording to have ever been released by the strictly doom metal oriented parent label or any of its branches. And yet here we stand, gazing at the beautiful artwork of an album by a Ukrainian one-man band called Zgard, who plays kind of a spiritual, mystical, melodic pagan black metal, having been released by BadMoodMan and not being even half-bad.

Half-bad? Ha! Far, far from it. This album is good! Zgard plays Russian spoken, slow-paced, keyboard-ridden, folk-oriented melodic black metal that sounds engaging, larger-than-life and highly atmospheric. Equipped with the simplest of compositions, their beauty throughout the recording is effective and hard-hitting.

Yaromisl, the single musician, who is in charge of guitars, vocals, keyboards, mouth harp, programming and also writes the band's (originally Russian-only) lyrics, is a musician through and through; within his guts, his veins, his skull and his big fucking heart not blood does run, but music. Only a big hearted musician -- a born and raised musician, one to whom music is his life's blood -- can write such a beautiful album that speaks in tongues and in many voices of the simplest of human desires; the simplest yet the greatest: happiness, nobility and a sense of belonging. Speaks in tongues and calls forth these desires. Calls forth and re-awakens the sentiments.

_Reclusion_ is, indeed, one of the most beautiful musical creations out there: its spirituality is unmatched; the atmosphere the combination of old and new, traditional and modern instruments create, is unparalleled. Yaromisl seems to know exactly what makes a human tick, and he pushes all the right buttons in the human condition in terms of melody penetrating the body and tickling the soul. Spirit becomes substance, and vice versa.

Keyboards and mouth harp, vitriolic guitars that create a melodic wall of sound, and a wizard-like utilization of the keyboards and their virtual endless potential, are all handled craftily, laid accurately and carefully layer after a layer, creating a thick, lush and mesmerizing atmosphere one would find hard to resist being spellbound by.

_Reclusion_ indeed emanates reclusive thoughts and hermetic sentiments. This album is the aural equivalent of the human aspiration for a higher life; its earthen simplicity yet its celestial beauty, these two key elements of our existence, have been bound together so well on this album -- one which is nothing but a beautiful, colourful sonic embodiment of that marriage of spirit and substance, which is ultimately the human essence. The best melodic pagan folk black metal album I have heard in quite some time. Highly recommended.

8/23/2013 C Drishner 8 Zgard - Astral Glow
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