Today, pagan black metallers ZGARD premiere the new track “Underworld Bells” at heavily trafficked web-portal NoCleanSinging.com. The song is the closing track to ZGARD‘s forthcoming Contemplation, set for international release on June 23rd through SVARGA MUSIC, which will be released in a regular jewel-case CD version and a digipack version limited to 100 copies. For the past four years, one-man Ukrainian band ZGARD has been patiently developing an intensely personal vision of pagan-oriented black metal. Now, with the release of fourth album Contemplation, ZGARD mastermind Yaromisl has perfected his craft, showing a rawer yet no-less-grandiose side that vividly illustrates the Carpathian mysticism at the heart of that craft. Compared to its celebrated predecessors, 2012’s Reclusion and 2013’s Astral Glow, ZGARD here go for an atmosphere that’s less cosmic and more organic, stirring both bloodlust and majesty within the listener as Yaromisl guides each of the seven tracks along an epic path. As always, the native folk touches are at the forefront but never threaten to overwhelm. As a title, then, Contemplation is more than fitting. Hear for yourself exclusively HERE, courtesy of NoCleanSinging.com.
The decision to form ZGARD was taken by Yaromisl in autumn 2010. At this time, he was finishing the recording of Goverla’s second album, which, due to various reasons, he decided to release under a new name. The quest for a name wasn’t long: ZGARD is a synonym for “amulet” in the culture of Huzuls, an ethno-cultural group who for centuries have inhabited the Carpathian mountains. Yaromisl wears such zgard from the time he obtained one in the Carpathian highlands and until now.
The ZGARD debut album, “The Spirit of Carpathian Sunsets,” was intended to be released in 2011, but the release date eventually shifted to 2012. In recording this album, Goverla’s flutist Hutsul took part, who recorded parts of woodwind instruments. The album includes not only the songs written for Goverla, but also a new track which gave a title to the album and formed a concept and the style of ZGARD: atmospheric black metal with strong influence from Carpathian folklore and a pagan outlook.
Without wasting any time, Yaromisl worked on the next songs for a second album, “Reclusion,” which was released in January 2012, even earlier than the debut. In 2013, the third opus, “Astral Glow,” was released, but activities didn’t slow down: ZGARD took part in a split CD, “Ascension: Paramatman,” with Romanian band Prohod, which was released in February 2014. Work then began on a new album.
At the beginning of 2014, with help of a session drummer and vocalist, the recording of the fourth full-length album, “Contemplation,” was finished. It will be released on June 23, 2014 by SVARGA MUSIC as a standard CD and a digipack limited to 100 copies.
ZGARD is truly a remarkable phenomenon in the Ukrainian metal scene. Geographically located far from Ukraine’s music centres, like Kharkov and Kiev, Yaromisl managed to create his own unique style. Is it the nature of the Carpathians, or residence near the mountain Bogit, where was located a Zbruch Idol (9th-century Svetovid sculpture and one of very few monuments of pre-Christian Slavic beliefs), which so influenced Yaromisl to create the music of ZGARD? Either way, the result speaks for itself!