Narwhal Tusk – In Despair
December was a great month of musical discovery for me. In one week, I found a whole four new female fronted metal bands – and all of them were excellent. Narwhal Tusk was one of those bands. Hailing from Russia, their music drew me in with its melancholy piano melodies, sorrowful lyrics, and dreamy atmosphere. To date they have released two EPs and in 2010 put out their first full-length album, In Despair. This album contains some of the songs from their EP Widow’s Walk, there are two new songs on their 2011 EP Memory Lane.
The intro to In Despair is captivating and sets the mood for the entire album. Entitled “Waltz (When Autumn Falls)”, it starts off with a gorgeous piano melody that is very reminiscent of something you’d hear on The Piano soundtrack. Then in comes a bit of a cello accompaniment, and then in come Valentina Yastremskaya’s soprano soaring over the top of some guitar riffs. It’s a beautiful piece.
Singing in both classical and non-classical style, Valentina’s vocals are delightful throughout the album, though heavily accented. Additionally, there are some decent clean male vocals sung on some songs by Dmitry Taranov, who is also the band’s keyboardist. And he really shines. Narwhal Tusk’s sound is very keyboard-oriented, which is something I really like.
The masterpiece on this album is a longer piece called “Everfall (The Holy Gardiner of Souls).” OK, they need a bit of an editor because, as you can see, there is a pretty glaring spelling mistake here, but I’ll let that slide since they may not have the best English in the world and Taganrog, Russia, is a bit far removed from anywhere near English-speaking. In any case, this is an amazing song, sung as a duet between Valentina and Dmitry, and Valentina’s chorus parts are absolutely beautiful, and so are the vocal harmonies they used to accompany her. There is also a pretty wicked synth solo.
Lyrically, In Despair‘s themes revolve mainly around love and love lost, but they are never cheesy. Rather, they are quite evocative and have a lot of imagery in them. For example, from the opening track:
Soon the gardens will be mute
And the fields will turn to gold
All the streams that fill endless creeks in the woods
Will be drained as Autumn Falls
Like a teardrop in the ocean bane
Flowing to forsaken shores
When my time will come to abandon my land
I’ll be gone as Autumn Falls
While not super duper heavy, Narwhal Tusk did an excellent job producing an album with strong symphonic metal elements, a lot of beauty, and some really catchy melodies. And a nice detail I appreciated was the repetition of the opening piano melody in the final track, with some slight amendments. It really tied the whole album together.
Currently signed to Russia’s Musica Productions, I see they have a page on “Sign me to Roadrunner Records.” I hope someone major picks them up and gives them the attention they deserve.
Allyson’s rating: 4.5 out of 5