Beginning in 2010, Netherbird has been a band with a full-time lineup. The current members are Pontus Bizmark Andersson on guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals, Johan Nord on guitars and vocals, Fredrik Andersson on drums, Johan Nephente Fridell on vocals, Tobias Jakobsson on lead guitars and backing vocals, and Micke Andre on bass and vocals.
The new album is “Hymns from Realms Yonder” and it is a merging of the genres of both black and death metal. The first track is “ Brazen Splendour” and it starts with a bit of a symphonic metal sound but the vocal linguistics are those of death metal. The pace on the song is good with a mid-tempo type of gallop. Almost half way through the song, the band switches pace and slows it down a little, giving the song a bit of a break but not so much that the main elements are forgotten. The eerie bells in the background add a nice touch with the last minute or so picking up the pace into the end of the track. Overall, a good opening track that gives the listener a clue into the mix of mid-tempo black and death metal they can come to expect throughout the album.
The second track is “Sculptors and Spectres” and leads with a more doomish sound to the guitars with less of a gallop and a more straightforward drive. The beginning of this track is more of an instrumental ode to atmospheric black metal. At the minute and a half mark the song takes on more of a black metal feel with the guitars screaming ahead only to be reined in after a minute or so. The track is another mid-tempo black metal track with touches of death metal in the vocals. The track changes pace and feel a couple of times which help keep away the tedium that normally comes with black metal. Another mix of genres to keep the listener engaged.
The third track called, “Myosotis Scorpioides” starts off with an eerie guitar solo before reaching a gallop more reminiscent of death metal tracks than that of black metal. At just over five minutes, the track changes pace three times and keeps the listener engaged in the song. In much the same way, the track, “Swedish Sadness” starts with some childlike keyboards and chanting like that of a churchgoer. The guitars kick in and we get a feel of a more symphonic metal track coming into being. As soon as we decide that we understand the song, we get a bit more doom than we anticipate with a slowing bass line and deeper drums.
The first four tracks on this album give a different look into the band as a whole. We have elements of black metal, death metal and symphonic metal. The band is able to pull off all of these genres and keep the songs interesting.
All of the original songs are very well done with “Born Defiant” being that one relatively slow track that the album could do without. It is not a bad song, but it feels a little out of place amongst the others.
The only negative aspect of this album is the cover tracks. The band chooses to cover tracks by Paradise Lost, Sentenced, and Annihilator among others. These tracks add nothing to the album and in some ways, detract from a very solid album of original tracks. One can understand wanting to pay homage to a particular band or a song that was played in a live setting but these songs run amok over every genre and do little to help cement the goal of this album. No longer are we presented with tracks that have vital elements of black metal, death metal and symphonic metal, we are now subjected to tracks that while are very good, do not have continuity to the album.
Overall, this album, “Hymns of Realms Yonder” is very good and very listenable. It is a great amalgamation of blackened death metal.