Dzö-Nga - Thunder in the Mountains
Avantgarde Music
Atmospheric Black Metal
6 songs (46' 43")
Release year: 2020
Avantgarde Music
Reviewed by Andy
Album of the month

Though Boston ABM project Dzö-Nga released Thunder in the Mountains early this year, it took me till now to get to it. I still have a special place in my heart for The Sachem's Tales, which I still listen to from time to time, but this one is much more disciplined in both musicianship and songwriting, without losing the gift this band had for mixing atmospheric delicacy with Cryvas's black metal. The label compares it to the work of Saor or Sojourner, and they're not wrong, but in my opinion this is better than either.

The Sachem's Tales was personal and intimate; Thunder in the Mountains is epic, a fitting accompaniment to the literary themes (the album is based on Longfellow's "The Song of Hiawatha"). Cryvas has apparently not only learned how to sing better black metal vocals, but also has decided to put a bit of shredding on some of the songs; the acoustic musings of his past are still around, but we also get solos now, and more rock and NWOBHM influences; Flames in the Sky is an absolutely breakneck tune and the keyboards and guitar work meld beautifully. Getting a bassist who shared the former duo's vision helped too; the music's got a lot more punch to it even on the quieter tracks. And their rhythm section is far better mixed than the last time, when they had tossed it in as a sort of afterthought.

Grushenka Ødegård gets a bit more airtime on this one than she had before. The heavier sound of this album overwhelms her lovely but fragile voice in a few places, but usually she's placed strategically so as to sit on top of the mix and let the heavier instruments wreak havoc beneath her as she soars above on the choruses. Every so often, she hits a melody that goes so perfectly with the song as to take the breath away, such as on Heart of Coal, an emotional mid-tempo track that's my favorite on the album.

The band's finally licked their sound quality problem, and Thunder in the Mountains is the best they've ever sounded, leaving behind the technical problems that plagued their sound in the past so the listener can sit back and enjoy the epic atmosphere. It's a no-brainer to pick up.


Killing Songs :
The Song of Hiawatha, Heart of Coal, A Soul to Burn
Andy quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Dzö-Nga that we have reviewed:
Dzö-Nga - Five Treasures of Snow reviewed by Andy and quoted 70 / 100
Dzö-Nga - The Sachem's Tales reviewed by Andy and quoted 92 / 100
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