Nothgard – “Malady X” (Metal Blade Records)
With a sound described as ‘epic melodic death metal’, these Bavarians are fast becoming stars in their native Germany as well as being well poised to strike further afield on this 5th album that also marks the 10th anniversary of the band! Drawing heavily from the classic Gothenberg style, as well as adding orchestral and neo classical elements, Nothgard’s sound is abundant in its heaviness and made even more so by the final mixing of legendary Jens Bogren (Amon Amarth, Kreator, Arch Enemy) while also being rich in its melodies both powerful and light, all of which add up to some highly passionate and needless to say, catchy songs. Recorded by the band themselves, “Malady X” may be seen by some critics as commercial, but wimpy “Malady X” certainly ain’t, with the band brazenly stating it to be an accurate reflection of themselves, hence taking the reins on this release, while also allowing them to give plenty of consideration to their guests in Noora Louhimo (Battle Beast), Veli-Matti Kananen (Kalmah) and Jen Majura (Evanescence) to make their own presence felt. It certainly works on the 10 tracks making up this highly entertaining album, some erring to the lighter end like ‘Deamonium I’ (joined by Louhimo’s femme wailings) while others heavy as hell, but all in keeping with Nothgard’s aforementioned core sound. Driven by the sophisticated, high class twin guitar work of founder singer Dom R. Crey and Skaahl, songs like ‘Serpent Hollow’ glide effortlessly as bombastic thundering rhythms, chopping riffs and Crey’s roars danced alongside suave keyboard melodies and racing, heart grabbing guitar melodies to turn one’s passion to boiling point, while on the darker ‘Devil Will Know’, dirty chugging guitars soon exuded irresistible power melodies reminiscent of early In Flames, building epicly as splendid orchestrals joined the foray before the twin guitars unloaded handsomely to bring this very game song to a climax! If fire n ice contrasts are your thing, then ‘Herald Of Death’ was nothing but that, switching between quieter keyboard and string moments to Felix Indra’s smashing drums, while the orgasmic guitars with their power melodies in overdrive were soon heading into guitar god levels – wow! A superb release, “Malady X” certainly left an authentic impression on me with its attention to detail and superior musicianship, but moreover didn’t sound like a band living according to false values.