Friday, July 22, 2022

EP Review: Bergfried "Romantik I" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Bergfried
Country: Austria
Genre: Folk metal
EP: Romantik I
Format: Digital
Label: Independent
Release date: April 17, 2022
At first, I didn't completely understand how Bergfried is expanding the boundaries of extreme metal, but I learned more after reading their bio at Metal Message PR. The band makes a notable effort to establish a new subgenre that cannot be compared easily to other subgenres that require too many labels to describe. Defining their debut EP as "romantic medieval metal" is sufficiently concise and sums up their direction without overwording. Coming from well-defined roots, “Romantik I” takes many chances.
The album's songwriting harkens to the Romanticism and Classicism eras, rejecting modern convention by not including band photos. This distinctive tapestry is enriched by lyrics recalling imagery of Romantic poets, a result of a partnership with multi-instrumentalist Erech Leleth and gifted vocalist Anna de Savoy. As this is their first ever collaboration there’s much room for improvement here, especially in the lo fi production which would have more impact given time to develop. Even so, “Romantik I” is a promising beginning.
Integrating black metal, folk metal, pagan metal and classic power metal, the EP tells an epic tale with different moods included when necessary to reflect the lyrics. Striking amounts of Celtic folk music played with synthesizers add more dimension to the guitars, and de Savoy sounds inspired by vocalists like Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), Simone Simons (Epica) and Amy Lee (Evanescence). As her emoting and inflections show, she doesn’t make any conscious efforts to directly emulate those talents but with time she can easily compare with them.
It’s common for metal bands to present a window into the past via songs or concept albums. Bergfried forego this in favor of creating a setting in time for the listener to partake in. Without giving too much of it away, there are moments when it’s bright, romantic, hopeful, tragic and mournful. The most profound moment is the last of the four songs; listen closely and read the lyrics and you’ll understand why. Bergfried’s musicianship and storytelling is often compared to bands like Lordian Guard, and Grendel’s Sÿster, who personify their conceptual tales through their music as well as their lyrics, and “Romantik I” is an experience to be sure. –Dave Wolff

Anna de Savoy: Vocals
Erech III. von Lothringen: All instruments

Track list:
1. Hungry Hearts
2. The Battle
3. War-Torn Lovers
4. Oh Lord

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