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Nordagust - In The Mist Of Morning CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.61 | 59 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars One could argue without ultimate resolution on the best settings for the esteemed mellotron, the single instrument most intertwined with progressive rock since the late 1960s. And by mellotron I guess I mean mellotron strings, since the technically temperamental was capable of simulating a variety of instruments, if well nourished and in ebullient spirits. Such spirits are confined to the mellotron on NORDAGUST's sole album to date, a dour affair as only the Nordic peoples can embody, but suffice to say that "In the Mist of Morning" should be sampled in the next 30 second commercial spot touting the mellotron as a cure to all ills, followed by a list of all its potentially deleterious side effects in the audio fine print. Because, played properly as it is here, it should be undergoing a clinical trial and certainly not be offered to adolescents.

While not sounding especially similar to OPETH's "Damnation", it tends to materialize in the same thought bubble because of the dominance of the mellotron and the uniformly profound sadness. Yet while the OPETH album portrays resignation, NORDAGUST's stage of grief is more in the angst that precedes capitulation, down to the touch of stridency in the tortured vocals. It's altogether more emotive, with a more dynamic range of energy output all approximating the moth circling the flame rather than the scorched and near lifeless shell that got too close once too often. More concretely, in addition to breathtakingly melodic passages we are treated to some of the most succinct rhythm guitar phrasings north of the circle, sometimes at the same time, as in "Expectations" and "The Tide", my two favorites.

A couple of instrumentals vary the experience without breaking the spell: "In the Woods" is based on harpsichord like motifs with waves of tron, natural sound effects like running water, and the mournful yet warbling call of an animal I can't quite place, either avian or mammalian, perhaps of a Scandinavian species unbeknownst to me. It enjoys this album too because it resurfaces on several tracks and is never unwelcome. This connection to nature is hard won and innate like hockey skates on a crib-bound Canadian prairie child. "Forcing" has our mellotron donning the frock of a whirling dervish, albeit one in a morose frame of mind.

The best of the longer tracks is the magnificent "Make me Believe" which ups the ante with choral touches and even more tortured vocals. I haven't mentioned the occasional lead guitars but they are splendid, sometimes just in a 2 second fill, sometimes in a tasteful solo, rarely overplaying their hand. A few tracks seem to break focus a bit, notably "Mysterious Ways","Elegy", and "Frozen", the latter being the only weak song here. NORDAGUST are occasionally guilty of prolonging the intensity of buildups. A listener should be thankful for a break when it does arrive, rather than begging for it beforehand.

MIsery so genuinely expressed truly possesses the power to heal, and lift the mists of depression not only for the artist but the invested listener. All that from a keyboard.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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