#Nergard Live in Kalvåa

14 min read

Band: Nergard
Tittle: Live in Kalvåa
Label: Pug-Nose Records
Release Date: 14 April 2023
Country: Norway
Format Reviewed: Live album, digital format.

“Echoes of Passion: Nergard- “Live in Kalvåa”

“Nergard’s ‘Live In Kalvåa’, which took place in Selbu, Norway on August 28, 2022, and was released on April 14, 2023, is an essential live experience for any Melodic Power Metal enthusiast. The show delivers a perfect blend of emotion and power, which is further enhanced by the exceptional performances of expert musicians and three top-tier singers. The concert magnificently showcases Nergard’s collective talent, consistency, and mastery. Join me as we delve into the six acts that shape this wonderful album” (by Elyna Steel).

Andreas Nergård founded Nergard in 2010, and the project features collaborations with various guest musicians and vocalists. Nergard’s music is characterized by its melodic and symphonic elements, often incorporating orchestral arrangements and diverse vocal styles.

Andreas Nergård has worked with prominent figures in the metal scene to create a dynamic and engaging musical experience. Current members are Andreas Nergard (bass), Runar Grimstad (drums), Ørjan Halsan (guitar), Magnus Johansen (keyboards) and the singers Mathias Molund and Andi Kravjlaca who also plays the guitar in some songs. Stefani Keogh parted ways shortly after this show was performed.

Today we will review their recent live show “Live in Kalvåa”, recorded on August 28, 2022 and released on April 14, 2023. The show’s setlist consists of six acts with the songs “Hell on Earth” and “Angels” from the album “Memorial of a Wish” (2013), “Light and Shadows” and “On Through The Storm” from “A Bit Closer To Heaven” (2015) and “Where No One Would Share a Tear” and “From the Cradle to The Grave” from “Eternal White” (2021). Let’s start enjoying this amazing ride right away.

The opening track kicks off, bringing down the house! “Hell on Earth” running for 06:05, depicts a journey where hope and fear collide. Shadows take control of the mind, asserting that luck is cast, and all hope is in vain. Treason lurks, symbolised by the Kiss of Judas, a betrayal that puts us on our knees, compelling acceptance of a seemingly inevitable destiny. The experiences we endure seem futile, teaching us nothing, and Hell is unleashed on Earth. However, what if all that darkness is just a mental prison? Perhaps the journey should lead inward, navigating our mental confines. Maybe we must overcome delusions to tune into our intuition, allowing us to evolve and break free from Hell on Earth, for ‘To change the world, first start by changing yourself.’ Great lyrics.

The song is in a 4/4 structure at up-tempo, with tasty power metal that resembles Nightwish, maintaining Nergard’s vibe. The melodic base is powerful and intense, giving the sensation of flavorful density and turbulence. The performance starts with the audience clapping, then flames light up the stage. Lights pulsate to the fast beat of the rhythmic section. In the front row, from left to right, we have Andreas Nergard on bass, Andi Kravljaca, Stefani Keogh, and Mathias Molund on vocals, and Ørjan Halsan on guitar. Andi, Ørjan, and Andreas are headbanging, while Stefani and Mathias are enjoying and preparing their entrance. Stefani, who amazes with a raw, growling melodic singing in her mid-low range, is in charge of the first lines. Then Mathias takes his turn, singing in the same vibe, with a mid-range and growling voice. In the choir, Andi and Mathias sing together, while Stefani sings alone in her mid-low range. Their execution and vocal ensemble are so perfect that it gives me goosebumps. The trio is pitch-perfect and doubtless. This sounding pattern continues until an intermezzo that slightly changes the tone of the melody while the three singers perform harmoniously at the same time but in different tones. After this, there is a brief portion similar to the beginning. Suddenly, Andi Kravljaca appears, performing a neoclassical solo that includes insane slides and licks, which boggle one’s mind. After this, we reach the last chorus with our trio singing harmonically and perfectly assembled, after which we enter the last section with the brutal and exquisite structure of the beginning: an insanely fast tempo, drums ringing furiously, Andi and Andreas headbanging while the others follow the beats of the music, which ends abruptly, receiving the audience’s ovation. What an awesome trip this is, and it’s the first of 6. OMG!

The second song is “Where No One Would Shed a Tear” with a duration of 04:17′. WARNING: Guys, everyone needs to take a deep breath before watching this, because the ride is amazing! The clearly expressed lyrics describe a detailed scenario that serves as an example of what happens on the front lines of any war anywhere in the world. However, the colours of the Swedish flag are mentioned here: blue and yellow (Andi, do you have anything to do with this story?) War and the fatality it implies—death, blood, and suffering. Questions arise amid gunfights, explosions, and meat everywhere, reflections on what it costs to follow an ideology or a side in the war. Questions without an answer and in the end, the hearts of humans harden and become killing machines, with the sole purpose of fulfilling the mission—be fast, be calm, and prepared to defeat the “enemy,” who is usually another poor and sad human being who never questioned the reason for the war. Stunning story!

The song kicks off in a 4/4 structure at a fast tempo, simply demolishing heads! A forceful rhythmic section, bass, guitars, keyboards, and drums powerfully performing. Then, red lights and flames appear when Andi takes the stage and starts singing in his lowest vocal range, with incredible stage presence, moving around and doing a soft headbanger to create a captivating atmosphere. After this, Mathias starts his incredible performance. The flames and red lights illuminate his face, increasing in pace as he sings his lines in an insanely high and raw tone. Then, Andi takes turns in the pre-chorus, synchronizing his vocalization perfectly with the rhythmic section: mighty drum beats, guitar, and bass riffs. Andi keeps rising and falling his tone to sing the last wonderful line, which is fluid, smooth, and at the same time powerful, before giving way to the chorus, which is just glorious! Vocal harmony perfection, with Mathias in a high pitch and Andi in mid-range, taking turns and singing together. The performance of both on stage, the way they share the space, and the expression of enjoyment on their faces as they sing, are other elements that make this performance epic!

This structure remains stable for the major portion of the track until we reach an intermezzo. Man oh man, what an intermezzo! The pace gets slower, and Andi and Mathias take turns singing one line each, in different tones. Mathias raises the tone to the moon, giving the path to a fast-tempo section with a captivating neoclassical guitar solo of fast finger-picking and Andreas Nergard on the bass, sounding like a real cannon! After this, the bridge. Guys, you all rock! Twinkling lights follow the rhythm of an insanely fast drum roll, melodic riffs with powerful slides, and a demolishing bass. Andi and Mathias take turns flawlessly singing in harmony to finally reach the last chorus and closing of the song. Here we see Andi and Andreas headbanging vigorously while Mathias sets the rhythm with a little metal dance, ending the song. Clappings everywhere and a euphoric Andi full of adrenaline after such a ride! What a track, what an incredible performance! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

“Angels” is the third track on the album and has a runtime of 06:55’. It delves into the emotions of despair, hopelessness and internal struggles caused by the loss of someone you love. The pain is so intense that one’s heart becomes hostile towards the world, and faith in God, religion, or love seems to be lost forever.

Our joy has vanished since our loved one is no longer with us, and we must continue living, which is perceived as suffocating without their presence. Why keep on believing in a God that took them away? Why must we love when all that can be felt is hate? However, the hatred within is nothing more than a deep grief, and that grief is simply our love that has nowhere to go. God, life or destiny have taken from us the one who made that immense love arise in us. Now our soul is shattered, so we are walking in the darkness, falling into an abyss from which only death can rescue us so that we can return to the arms of the one we love and miss so hard. Lyrics that tug at everyone’s heartstrings!!

Poignant power metal ballad in a 4/4 structure at a slow pace. Its staging is quite intimate, with Andi, Stefani, and Mathias getting at the centre and starting to sing harmonically at the kicking-off. The melody explodes with power as Andreas and Ørjan play in the front row. The first stanzas initiate with Stefani performing catchy melodic singing, forcefully, in mid-range. Spoiler; in the second stanza, Stefani does some lovely growls at the end of some lines.

Reaching the pre-chorus, I stop to comment on the beautiful brightness, colour, and strength of Andi’s interpretation, who enters after Stefani, singing in his high range, to the point that it gives me chills all around. Then Mathias takes a turn. What an amazing high pitch he has! He resembles giants like Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson, standing out in his essence though.

The chorus is magical and touching. The base section lays down some serious thunder while the trio performs vocals Heaven (Mathias), Earth (Stefani), and Underearth (Andi) in a marvellous synchrony and harmony that gives goosebumps! This exquisite pattern persists unaltered until the conclusion of the second chorus, at which point Andi Kravjlaca’s guitar takes the spotlight. Here, he delivers a neoclassical, impeccable, and heartfelt performance, romantic and replete with nuances, colours, and shapes.

And after this, I stop again…Stefani! Singing the pre-chorus in her mid-high range is simply wonderful! The chill runs through my spine with her performance, raising her hand, looking towards the sky and singing with such a feeling that it is inevitable to feel how your eyes fill with tears. After that, Mathias first and then Andi in a perfect balance of shining voices, for then reaching the final chorus, as magical as the prior ones. Heaven, Earth, and Underhearth. As it reaches the final lines, Andi and Mathias sing their hearts out with dramatic intensity. The performance concludes with all three lowering their pitches, closing the song in a way that is truly off the charts. Precious track!

Track 4, “Light and Shadows”, spans precisely 06:16 and embodies the signature 4/4 power metal style in a fast tempo, with a delicate, catchy yet sinister tone and pulse. The raw base section and the staging contribute to the overall dark atmosphere of this segment of the performance. The first stanza is astounding. Stefani sings with elegant guttural vocals, alternating first with Andi and then with Mathias, then singing the three at the same time in the pre-chorus that includes an impressive sustain, followed by guttural vocals of Stefani and Mathias rising to heaven before entering the chorus, where the three sing harmonically. The pattern is consistent until a bridge where the keyboards take protagonism, adding a layer of mystery to the song. On the other hand, the voices blend in an elegant and appealing chorus, with mid-range tones that add a more intimate touch. Finally, the last chorus crowns the performance, with each of the three singers showcasing their skills. Stefani adds a sinister touch with her guttural vocals, Mathias impresses with presence and power, and Andi shines with a steady, gentle voice, all ending up in the heavens while the rhythmic section sets the place on fire. Amazing performance! The story behind this wonderful song points out the journey of a person who has reached a breaking point of anger and confusion. This person has experienced years of abuse, which has filled them with hatred and anger that is now ready to come out. The hate seems to be permanent and never-ending until the end of life. However, the “King of Fury” – portraying perhaps our inner self seeking revenge – urges us to surrender and let these feelings out, dropping the mask that we have been wearing for years. Those lines are pure fire!

Track 5 is titled “On Through the Storm”. What an outstanding performance! Its elegance, grace, synchronicity, and perfect harmony are truly captivating, and the emotional depth of the composition gave me goosebumps throughout its entire six minutes and twenty-seven seconds. The story behind the song delves into the pain of separation caused by death. It portrays a man suffering terribly from the sudden loss of his beloved, described as “a wonder beyond any dream.” The depth of his pain leads the man to fall to his knees before the tomb that houses his beloved, with his tears forming a storm that he must cross to, someday, be reunited with her. Emotionally charged, heartbreaking lyrics, beautifully interpreted, depict the love shared between two people, and death becomes the only force capable of separating them.

The song opens with a magical atmosphere, created by dim lighting on stage and melancholic keyboard and piano sounds. Smoke machines add a precise atmosphere, emulating storm clouds. Andi takes on the role of the protagonist, singing beautifully in his middle register. His voice is smooth, sweet, and stunning. The nuances in his singing gave me goosebumps and made me emotional due to his heartfelt delivery, conveying nostalgia, solemnity, and longing. Following this, the piano joins the rhythmic section slowly, making way for Stefani, who enters the stage singing four lines in a higher pitch with a beautiful, sweet voice. Then, Andi and Matias sing harmonically, exchanging roles until the pre-chorus, where Andi and Stefani sing alternately and together. The chorus then breaks out. The rhythm section is a power metal ballad in all its splendour, and Andi, Stefani, and Mathias sing in a memorable trio. The harmony they achieve by singing together in different tones is deeply emotional, and honestly, it is inevitable to feel chills and a lump in your throat. All three convey different emotions, perfectly combined and beautifully executed!

In the second stanza, I highlight Andi’s performance. At the 2:08 mark, he dramatically kneels, supporting himself with one hand on the floor, delivering his lines with a broken voice filled with raw emotion. Stefani, whose singing resembles that of an angel, stands just behind him, accompanied by Andreas Nergard, who skillfully plays the bass, adding an even more impactful layer to the background. Stefani and Andi then join forces, briefly touching their fingers in a moving scene that evokes tears. They continue singing in harmony, elevating the pitch before meeting with Mathias in the chorus, culminating in this exquisite vocal trio.

Then we reach a guitar solo portion. Romantic slides and finger picking changes its pace, then the bridge, which feels darker than the previous sections. Potent, dramatic riffs and drums and Andi singing with mid voice. The intensity of this part of the song is incredible, it is almost like a desperate cry of nostalgia that invades the entire stage, the lights, the smoke, and the half-light make you feel the pain that the lyrics transmit.

Then comes the last chorus and the trio of impressive voices along with the rhythm section. This last chorus is exquisite: the nuances and interpretation of Stefani and Andi looking at each other, the power of Mathias, the lights, the smoke, all this creates an impressive atmosphere, emotional and deep. The ending of the track is a piano solo that makes you want to cry. Wonderful, emotional track and performance of the whole band!

The final track “From the Cradle to the Grave” is placed sixth and runs for 05:10’. The song is in a 4/4 structure at a fast tempo. It is reminiscent of Nightwish but the Nergard sound stands out. Is the perfect ending to this memorable show. In my view, the band as a whole exposes all its mastery, for the rhythmic base, the voices, and the staging are of impressive quality. From the gloom of lights, Andreas Nergard and Ørjan Halsan appear in the front row furiously playing the bass and the guitar. At the same time, the flames explode and the lights dance to the rhythm of the frantic drum beats and riffs and the keyboard uniting everything in a dramatic atmosphere. At the time the audience breaks into a frenzy to the rhythm of the music. Andi headbanging, Mathias rocking and the beautiful Stefani a little further back, balancing delicately, ready to start singing.

The first stanza kicks off at a slower pace with bass, keyboards and drums playing, no guitar. Andreas keeps his place in the front row playing powerfully the bass, while Mathias sings the first lines in his mid-range. Then is Andi’s turn in his mid-range as well singing the following lines, both impeccably. Then we reach the pre-chorus with Stefani singing and performing delicately in an ascending scale, delighting with her angelic voice. Next, we head to the spectacular chorus section and this legendary trio singing in perfect harmony and synchronicity. Mathias up in the Heavens, Stefani on Earth and Andi in Underland, a game of three voices in three different scales that fascinates me!

The superb structure preserves consistency up to a brief intermezzo that precedes the dazzling neoclassical guitar solo, performed by our Andi Kravljaca, who emerges from the gloom playing fast licks and bright, precise slides, perfectly displayed! For those who ignore it, Andi not only is a great singer but also an outstanding guitar master, which is demonstrated in this epic section.

Special mention for Stefani who ends the second chorus, previous to Andi’s solo, with an incredible guttural, strange, diabolically elegant!

After the solo, comes a final, breathtaking intermezzo where we see Andi and Andreas on the left side, playing the guitar and bass furiously, while Stefani and Mathias sing alternately. The mid-portion once again pleases me. Stefani performs a guttural sound, like a sinister, furious claim, before joining Andi and Mathias and reaching the final chorus. Here, the flames and pulsating lights bring top energy. The three singers perform impeccably, while the entire band shows mastery in the execution of the song that ends epically, with Mathias rising to the sky. At the same time, Stefani executes a guttural scale from her lowest to higher pitch, akin to an elegant, raw scream, and Andi plays the last riffs before the abrupt ending. They are wholly stirring!

In summary, Nergard’s “Live In Kalvåa” is an essential live experience for any Melodic Power Metal enthusiast. The impressive talents of the band’s musicians, combined with the excellent sound quality of this show, make it truly exceptional. Technically, it reminded me of the unforgettable sound of “The End of An Era” – Nightwish’s last show with Tarja Turunen as vocalist back in 2005. In addition, this live show delivers a perfect blend of emotion and power, enhanced by the exceptional performances of three top-tier singers. Moreover, the fact that the show was performed in August, meant that the ambient temperature was freezing and yet Andi, Stefani and Mathias managed to sing wonderfully is something worth highlighting.

The show magnificently showcases Nergard’s collective talent, consistency, and mastery. To the entire band, your collective brilliance shines through, and I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to attend one of your live shows in the future. I have no doubt I’ll be left hoarse from singing along! Thank you for this extraordinary journey.

Therefore, I gladly rate this work as follows: 10/10 Elyna Steel

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