Zgard - _Astral Glow_
(BadMoodMan Music, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
Ukrainian one-man outfit Zgard has graced us with one of last year's highlights, namely the beyond-epic and utterly captivating _Reclusion_ album; unparalleled epic-ness and grand majestic tunes were the bread and butter of that mesmerising record.

A year later comes another album by the prolific musician known as Yaromysl, and still he has not lost his ability to write gripping tunes of sadness and celestial beauty -- this time however with stronger, more obvious folk elements introduced into his spider's web of intricate, dense and arcane melodies. The music now incorporates a flute and a sea of keyboards that are as obvious and as accentuated as are the gritty guitars, maintaining both the metallic edge of the overall sound and the atmospheric astral spirituality as an indivisible entity emitting dark beauty and naturalistic nostalgia; earth-bound melodies rooted into the soil like a five-centuries old tree whose canopy aspires toward higher realms of meta-existence.

Mostly slow to mid-paced, one can regard Zgard's music as the Slavic equivalent to Austrian band Summoning, in terms of the heavy usage of synthesizers and dense ambience both bands generate (and the very obvious spiritual sentiments both bands share). However, Zgard's music is by far more metallic in essence than Summoning's -- an almost perfect hybrid of earthen heaviness coupled with sublime transcendental abilities.

Long, epic songs, highly complex and elaborate, meet simple melodies of doom and gloom, soaring flute lines, samples of a blowing wind and a bonfire brightly burning; Zgard's _Astral Glow_ is a statement of creativity, pushed forward and powered by ancestral endemic fervor, capturing both the sheer beauty of all things natural as well as man's supreme aspiration for a higher life.

_Astral Glow_ marks the long lost beauty of the elements and humanity's sempiternal, often unconscious wish to become one with these very elements; a shadowy, yet bright tapestry of beauty untold and night-time sentiments all being awakened and magnified within those 80 minutes of magnificent, awe-inspiring tunes of folk-oriented black metal screaming its lungs out, carrying with its howl the ultimate message, the ultimate goal: ad astra! To the stars!

They who know Zgard's previous endeavours, especially the majestic awesomeness of _Reclusion_, would greatly appreciate _Astral Glow_ as well. Those not familiar with this unique musical entity are strongly advised to check this beautiful album out, and realize the sheer capacity of music as a multi-dimensional tool of transcendence -- a vehicle with which you could travel to the farthest reaches of the Universe while enjoying the cosiness and comfortable familiarity of your own bedroom; a comforting, uplifting album capturing some of the most benevolent, all-encompassing, devouring tunes known to man...

Contact: http://solitude-prod.com/

(article published 23/8/2013)


ALBUMS
11/4/2012 C Drishner 8.5 Zgard - Reclusion
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