Nergard (a.k.a. Andreas Nergard) is a composer, drummer, bassist, and keyboardist who hails from the cradle of today’s metal scene, Norway. Nergard the band was formed in 2010, and Memorial For A Wish (2013) is their first full-length album.
Interestingly, it is a concept album, which has been compared by some writers to theatrical masterpieces produced by the likes of Dream Theatre and Vast. Certainly, the story is a classic and interesting one, albeit tragic. The ideas flow through the songs with Romeo And Juliet-like twists, particularly towards the end of the album.
Our musical journey begins with the song “Twenty Years In Hell”, which tells us of the poor soul Peter O’Donnell, who in the Ireland of 1890 was tried and wrongly convicted to twenty years imprisonment for theft. O’Donnell sadly left behind his pregnant wife who, unbeknownst to him, died in childbirth while he was locked away. Upon his release, O’Donnell discovers that his wife and child are no more. His fair-weather friends turn their backs on him and in his hopelessness O’Donnell sees no other escape from his living hell other than to suicide.
Instrumentally the songs take the listener through the roller coaster of O’Donnell’s experiences and emotions, and tempos run from darkly grave to manically prestissimo. Instrumentally the album conveys the bleakness of the whole disaster and the uncharitable times very well.
Those who like their metal loud and furious would most likely see track four “Hell On Earth” as the standout. The punchy guitars and frantic drumming scream the fact that O’Donnell is in purgatory. He lives and breathes the same air as his wife and child, who he believes to be alive, and yet he cannot taste the freedom that’s duly his.
Through some tracks we get small samples of the lovely gothic (almost Gregorian) chanting of Michele Luppi, who helps place the music within its intended timeframe, but here lies the rub (to risk a Shakespearean allusion). The male vocals generally detract from the album’s impact.
On most tracks, the vocals lack variety and grunt. They are almost monotonous at times, though technically fine. What this comes down to is poor decision-making about style. Rather than hearing nouveau Dream Theatre, it’s impossible not to hear 80’s hair-metal bands like Poison and Bon Jovi. Whether you love or hate this first offering from Nergard would depend very much on how much you love or loathe old-school mainstream metal. It would be great for Nergard to inject some much-needed viciousness and anger into future recordings. I think then, the music of this band will truly achieve what the concept promised.
Release Year: 2013
Label: Battlegood Production
Reviewer: Sharon Brookes