I immediately admit that I am not in possession of sufficient elements to be able to make a reliable comparison with previous works, but Astral Glow certainly proves to be a surprising work in terms of compositional maturity and the evocative charge that emanates from every note. Zgard‘s music moves along an ideal line of contact between Moonsorrow and Negură Bunget/Dordeduh: with the latter, the Ukrainian multi-instrumentalist shares not only a love for folk sounds entrusted to a particular use of the flute, but also for the uncontaminated nature of the Carpathians (in an era that disdains the teaching of geography, it is worth remembering how, in its development, the mountain range crosses both Ukraine and Romania). The proposed rhythms are set on mid-tempo, in which the guitar often searches for melancholic lines, sometimes accompanied by solemn choral moments (Stars in the Night Sky), but even when the speed increases, the bucolic component is never lacking, excellently represented, as mentioned, by the flute played by Hutsul. The album is probably at its best in the opening section, in which two gems such as the opener Balance In Universe and the equally long and emotional Letargy Dream stand out, but it has to be said that a slight loss of intensity in the whole of a work lasting around seventy minutes can be considered a venial sin. Mind you, Zgard do not reach the almost unattainable compositional heights of the Finnish masters, and their music appears less imbued with the aura of spirituality that distinguishes the bands of Hupogrammos and Sol Faur, but precisely its greater immediacy makes Astral Glow an enjoyable work to listen to, even repeatedly. Full marks, then, for Yaromisl’s creature and, considering its rhythm of a full-length every six months, one can expect further exciting new releases in the near future.

2013 – BadMoodMan Music

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