Symphonic Metal is a genre that is loved as much as it is frowned upon by more than a few metal purists. One of the main reasons for this is the apparent stagnation the genre has been in recent years, with many bands being branded clones of bigger, older bands, adding nothing new to the mix. For the most part, I do not share this perception. If a Symphonic Metal album is done right and ticks all the correct boxes, then keep them coming I say. White Eternal by Norwegian band Nergard is an album that for the most part is done right.
This band has been delivering top-notch Symphonic Power Metal for the last 10 years, and while one of their main drawn in previous releases was the fact that they always had several famous metal singers as guests, this time they return with a concept album about the Carolean Death March of 1719 and a more solid lineup (specifically, 3 singers that share vocal duties more or less evenly), and boy, do they benefit from it. Nergard has stopped sounding like a project and have started sounding like a band. This album has everything you could possibly want from a Symphonic Power Metal release: Carefully crafted symphonic arrangements (fit for a Hollywood feature film), earworms and bombastic choruses, excellent Power Metal chops, a rock-solid rhythm base, and a very decent production.
The album opens with “God Forgive my Haunted Mind”, a 7-minute long mini-epic that is a perfect opener, as it accurately showcases the reach of the band as a whole. “Pride of the North” is next with its headbanging riffs and its happy chorus. It is not the strongest track in the album, but it doesn’t disappoint a bit. Next, we have “From the Cradle to the Grave” and as soon as it starts, you could be excused for thinking that Nightwish somehow misplaced a track in someone else’s album. This chorus will be stuck in your brain for a while. The band slows things down with “Carry Me”, a lukewarm mid-tempo song that fails to keep the momentum of the previous tracks, only to bring it back to the top with “Beneath Northern Skies” a hard-hitter of a song that boasts some of the best vocals in the album, and “Where no one would shed a tear” a fast Power Metal anthem that I had to listen twice just to make sure that it wasn’t Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) guest singing, as the vocal style is uncanny in this one. Next comes the Kamelot-influenced “Downfall” with its epic orchestrations and melody hooks that manage to create a very pleasant song without breaking any boundaries. Unfortunately, the album drops the ball a little bit in its closing tracks: “Now barely Three” is a mid-tempo song that feels awkward from start to finish and apart from a limited guest vocal performance from the one and only Tim “Ripper” Owens (his true potential is not fully explored in this song I’m afraid) it has some of the worst sounding guttural vocals I have ever heard in metal. The title track keeps the things on the slower side but with a more memorable chorus than the previous one. The album finishes with “Erasing the Memories”, a perfectly OK ballad with nice atmospheres but that feels too over the top in some parts. Somehow I feel this album deserved to close with a more memorable and powerful song.
“Eternal White” is a very well-crafted Symphonic Metal album, but it is not perfect. The music is definitely top quality and you can tell that songwriter Andreas Nergard has put a lot of love into this release. Nergard feels more like a band than ever before due to the cohesion that the 3 singers bring, but there is room for improvement on the vocal side. ie. most of the times that gutturals are used in the album, they don’t really work well. In some parts, the voices seem a bit buried in the mix as well. Symphonic and Power Metal fans will definitely like this release, as you can tell the band’s influences from a mile away, but I definitely think that Nergard has a lot of potentials to craft a sound of their own and easily make it to the top tier in their genre.
Album highlights: God Forgive my Haunted Mind, From the Cradle to the Grave, Beneath Northern Skies, Where No One Would Shed a Tear
For fans of: Nightwish, Kamelot, Sonata Arctica, Dynazty
Release Year: 2021
Label: Pride & Joy Music
Reviewed by Roman Ibarra