Do not be fooled: Nergard is not really a band. Nergard is one man who’s pulled together various vocal talents from the melodic and powermetal genres. Some of the eight songs on ‘A Bit Closer To Heaven’ are top notch material, others are not.
First of all a fair warning for those of you who suffer from Germaniphobia: This is from the very outset a severe case of GammaRay metal. Those of you who do not appreciate that, stop reading now. The album starts out excellently with Light and Shadows, featuring Ralph Scheepers (Primal Fear, formerly GammaRay), it’s got the Teutonic metal touch, a bit of Accept and GammaRay. Cool stuff. The production and sound of the entire album is excellent, the vocal performances are right where they need to be.
And how can they not with people like Elize Ryd (Amaranthe), Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus), Nils K. Rue (Pagan’s Mind), Andi Kravljaca (Aeon Zen), Thomas Løseth (Tempo), Ole Martin Moe Thornæs (Rudhira) and Sunniva Unsgård on board? I’m not necessarily a fan of these singers, but you have to hand it to Nergard that he’s been pretty good at bringing the right forces together for this one.
Anyhoo, bringing the right forces together doesn’t cut the cheese all by itself. As I mentioned, the first track of the album is great, Fall From Grace too, but from there on, the album becomes a jumbled ride. On Through the Storm is a pompous and actually boring power ballad. Let It Come is a sugary piece of keyboard-stricken metal pop, although I like the way Michael Eriksen of Circus Maximus makes his delivery of the song – it has a very nice progression. The heavier and more powerful Help Me Through The Night works well with Thomas Løseth’s vocal, whereas I Will Find You falls into the ‘boring’ or even unconvincing category as well (but could work well with the girls). The title track of the album fortunately brings out the bombast, and this suits the album. It builds up very nicely, with keyboards and the big rock guitars. When All I Want is You, which concludes the album, is sadly again in the boredom department although it features Sunniva Unsgård’s beautiful vocal.
‘A Bit Closer To Heaven’ is an album with a bit of everything on offer, and that is in essence it’s weakness. Me, I’d like it to go the full throttle German power metal way, rather than softening up with the not-so-convincing ballads (although song beautifully). There, tastes vary, but this is not working 100% for me.
01. Light And Shadows (featuring Ralf Scheepers, Nils K. Rue, Andi Kravljaca, Ole Martin Moe Thornæs)
02. Fall From Grace (featuring Thomas Løseth)
03. On Through The Storm (featuring Elize Ryd, Andi Kravljaca)
04. Let It Come” (featuring Michael Eriksen. Guitar solo by Øyvind Voldmo Larsen)
05. Stay (featuring Thomas Løseth)
06. Help Me Through The Night (featuring Andi Kravljaca. Guitar solo by Stig Nergård)
07. I Will Find You (featuring Andi Kravljaca)
08. A Bit Closer To Heaven (featuring Andi Kravljaca. Guitar solo by Stig Nergård)
09. When All I Want Is You” (featuring Sunniva Unsgård. Guitar solo by Jostein Svarstad)
Playing time: 46 minutes
Label: Battlegod Productions