|Review: Bergfried - Romantik 1|
Year released: 2022
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: December 9, 2022
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (6 Votes)
Bergfried is a two piece that's the brainchild of Erech Lelith, who has about a dozen other projects that mostly work in various forms of black metal. That makes this project a fair departure for him, and frankly everyone else, because this is one of the more daring and original takes on the genre I've heard in quite some time.
The sound presented on Romantik 1 is really hard to narrow down. There's definitely a clear metal base to it that's largely epic in nature, largely aided by folk rock sentiments, but.... OK, you are all going to have to bear with me when I say that this is heavily influenced by various forms of pop music. Normally, that claim is derogatory when talking about metal, especially on this site, but that's also usually in reference to the kind that tops charts for a few months before being forgotten about from over a decade ago (let's face it, you haven't kept up with pop music and have no idea what it sounds like these days. That's certainly true for me.) While I don't have much taste for it, you can actually find artists that use the major key melodies and smooth songwriting sensibilities of the style to make music with genuine depth and emotion to it, which is exactly what Erech does as he incorporates sweet keyboard melodies and strumming guitar work with propulsive metal songwriting and the gorgeous voice of Anna de Savoy, whose soft but powerful delivery really ties the gap between two forms that on paper really shouldn't work well together.
That said, this release is certainly something of an edge case, with the bright keyboard melodies and perky tremolo guitar work of opener "Hungry Hearts" possibly turning people off before getting to the epic and propulsive sections that are nothing if not metal. The next two songs are more notably metallic in nature, with "The Battle" containing some headbang-worthy melodies and the moving highlight "Wartorn Lovers" containing epic riffs, varied and almost unpredictable songwriting, and the best damn vocal performance on the album. Closing number "Oh Lord" is strictly an acoustic pop number, but it's so earnest and catchy that I can never resist it, and I'll go ahead and call any metal head who disagrees with that sentiment a coward.
I'll admit, I was highly skeptical approaching this, but I almost immediately found myself reevaluating the possibility of incorporating pop forms into metal without losing any power or emotion and in fact adding greatly to it, and that was after my third spin in a row. Emotional, epic, and above all else defiant of convention, I'm gonna call Romantik 1 the demo of the year, and we damn well better get a full-length soon.
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