Country: Ukraine
Title: Place of Power
Label: Schwarzdorn Production
Year: 2021
Style: Pagan Black Metal

Interesting how Ukrainian one-man-band Zgard, in the first period of its activity released a new album every year, even two albums the same year (2012), but this new one, the 7th full-length took 4 years in the making. Not sure if that is a sign of a more in-depth attention on its composition and production, but I'm sure for Zgard's fans it was a longer waiting than usual, and after spinning it for a few times already I'm also sure it was worth the waiting. Yaromisl continues his usual path by presenting 8 new tracks of old-school I would say Pagan Black Metal that can proudly represent the Ukrainian scene in the same line with bands like Nokturnal Mortum, Khors or Drudkh. A kind of Pagan Black Metal that centers around nature and local legends rather than actual history, and the overall atmosphere leads you to an enchanted, mythical place brilliantly portrayed by the cover art, too. I'm not a fan of those crying-like high-pitched Black Metal shrieks, but the instrumental part is great, it's powerful, epic, expressive, catchy and emotional most of the time, it involves the listener in the stories it creates, especially if accompanied by reading the lyrics. Zgard is not an innovative kind of band, but what one that keeps it traditional in both mixing Black Metal with Folk / Pagan elements and visual presentation as well, one that focuses more on blending catchy harmonies with expressive soundscapes towards a unified material that can even be considered conceptual. Compared to the previous material I'd say the production is better, more powerful and maybe even clearer, and the music is a tad less brutal and more concentrated on the Folk elements, but the general idea is similar, fans shouldn't have nasty surprises from Place of Power. Released in elegant Digipak CD format with 16 pages booklet by Schwarzdorn.
Reviewed by Adrian
Rating: 8/10