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Narwhal Tusk - In despair 4.5/5

Reviewed: 4-1-11


1. Waltz (As autumn falls)
2. Mourning purple
3. Everfall (The holy gardener of souls)
4. Nova
5. In despair pt.1
6. New dawn, new day
7. Remedy
8. My angel
9. Walking over waters of the ocean
10. In despair pt.2

Narwhal Tusk is a symphonic gothic metal band from Russia and this is their full-length debut CD, 'In despair'. Most of the songs are smooth, atmospheric and lush, often with some exquisitely beautiful melodies; indeed, several of the songs contain melodies that are simply astonishing in their emotional impact. The songs are generally keyboard-driven with crunchy backing guitars and pleasantly heavy bass providing the rhythm, along with occasional violin melodies; they also tend to be rather dense and somewhat busy, with upbeat lightly catchy choruses. Most of the songs include extensive progressive rock instrumentals; they are usually clean guitar-driven with huge symphonic keys, and feature a superb combination of light catchiness and pleasing time and tempo changes without being the least bit pretentious. There are also several excellent heavy high-energy rocking symphonic gothic power metal songs that make for a nice contrast to the relative mellowness of the rest of the songs.

Their female vocalist, Valentina Yastremskaya, has a captivatingly beautiful, soaring operatic soprano style that is perfectly suited to this kind of atmospheric metal. She sings with confidence and enthusiasm, with a smooth, warm expressiveness that is quite often enchanting, even mesmerizing; indeed, there is an almost intoxicating passion in her delivery, which in itself contributes significantly to the beauty and poignancy of the melodies. She sings in English with only the smallest trace of an accent. There are occasional clean male vocals as well, with a warm soothing style that again is perfectly suited to the music.

Songs as lush and beautiful as those on ‘In despair’ are usually found on CDs from progressive or gothic rock bands like Kingfisher Sky, Brave, In Tenebris, Karnataka, Persephone's Dream or Panic Room, and fans of these bands would almost certainly enjoy Narwhal Tusk; but the frequent guitar crunch and the several power metal songs add that extra amount of energy that metal fans typically look for, which puts ‘In despair’ in an almost unique place in gothic metal. Indeed, the only other gothic metal bands I know of that write such enchantingly beautiful melodies are Shadowplay and Liquid Sky, and neither feature quite the diversity of influences that Narwhal Tusk does; it is essential for fans of emotive atmospheric metal.




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