Flat out, this is some great epic and mystical black metal with clean production and slight pagan leanings!!! Zgard joins the list of high ranking “progressive” black metal bands sharing some aspects of Summoning, Nattsol, October Falls, Thranekind, Fen, Falls of Rauros…, but is distinctly darkened and leans toward the Limbonic Art and Emperor realm fairly often or at least often enough to elude to a more mysterious and catastrophic motive behind the songs, almost gypsy more so than pagan.

“Eternity” is a rawer and darker song with a very funereal “Theatre of the Macabre” synth based background, an aggressive cosmic and dark mystical atmosphere that is as ephemeral as it is a violent, dense, and icy blizzard gust drawn out through unique guitar rhythms and balance of atmospherics and solid black metal that literally create a chaotic storm of melody and evil.

“Winter Witchcraft” has this epic synth phrase that reminds me of the one in “I am the Black Wizards” about halfway through it, in combination with very clean production and darkly mystical cosmic/occult feel. The mix is very hazy and the guitar chords buzzing alongside the crisp snapping drums bring in a pagan solstice/ritual tone, followed by some subtle leads buried in the mix, that creates this feeling of vapor and spirits present.

On a side note: when I say clean production I just mean that it’s not raw and lo-fi, not that it’s state-of-the-art high def. It tends to be right in the middle and at just the right setting for what is done on here. Also, BadMoodMan is a brother label to Solitude Productions.

Zgard is a Ukranian solo act founded by guitarist Yaromysl (also a member of Goveria) who wanted to expand into atmospheric black metal and representing Carpathian folklore, whose first release, Spirit of Carpathian Sunset, (on Darker Than Black )was substantially more pagan/folk black metal with less atmospheres and lacking looming haunting presence that Reclusion has. Some of the folk elements are still present such as the flute, which really comes out on “In the Roots of the World Tree”, the hypnotic and seductive closing song full of chimes and angular guitar lead tones that’ll subliminally program you to immediately repeat time and time again just to make sure that you are, in fact, not dreaming.

In a time when black metal has become split into the extreme forms of the raw and nihilistic/obscene or washed out into more melodic and less vicious influences, often times splitting the fan base across the scale of styles within black metal, it’s a literal breath of fresh air to hear something like Zgard. This man is on to something HUGE with Reclusion leaving me curious and excited to hear what else he develops in the years to come.

To some this may not sound as profound and unique as I describe it, but when you’re not digging into it and tearing it apart or going in with certain expectations it really does have a different sound and feel than anything else. Reclusion is a very personal album as it really is a representation of the vision of Yaromysl and not that of any audience expectations.