Dzö-Nga - Five Treasures of Snow
Avantgarde Music
Atmospheric Black Metal
5 songs (39' 0")
Release year: 2016
Avantgarde Music
Reviewed by Andy
Archive review

Re-released as a digipak just a few days ago, Dzö-Nga's debut Five Treasures of Snow may be of interest to anyone who got interested in them via this year's The Sachem's Tales. Listeners hoping for more of Dzö-Nga, as I was, be warned: This is a much less remarkable amateur release from before Cryvas greatly improved his project's sound, and its music is nowhere near as good as what its successor was able to deliver.

Before Cryvas added Grushenka Ødegård to do female vocals, Dzö-Nga was a fairly typical one-man ABM project. You can see hints of the current sound in the idiosyncratic chord changes of the tunes, but there's more keyboard and less guitar on this one, and what there is is so heavily processed that it might as well be computer-generated -- perhaps it is. Some of the neat 90-degree melodic turns are very ColdWorld-style, but feel much clumsier than that project's output. The bouncy keyboard chords sound good on their own, but as soon as multiple instruments have to coexist, the music gets a computer-programmed feel, the high bass patch found on several of the tracks being especially phony-sounding. It's unfortunate, because a few more listens of the individual parts show that with more agile mixing, some of these songs would have a lot more impact.

And yet I can't say that it's all bad. Eyes of God still has some rather poorly mixed synth underpinning everything, but the chorus has flashes of brilliance, where Cryvas abandons his hissed vocals and puts together a poor man's thousand-man chorus, a sort of prototype of the one on A Seventh Age of Fire. Towards the end of the track, you can see him trying out better melodic combinations than the awkward keyboard chording on the first two songs, and making some progress. He even does a bit of black metal riffing on Through Kang La. Ultimately, though, Cryvas's weird sense of rhythm leads to cringe-worthy moments that sabotage the atmosphere of every song on the album to some degree. And that's the only rhythm we have available, because there's no timekeeper, not even a metronome. I'd thought he and Grushenka didn't care much about the drums on The Sachem's Tales, but they were downright obsessed with them compared to what Cryvas does alone on Five Treasures of Snow, where they are simply nonexistent.

This is an ABM release of reasonable quality, which is listenable without being memorable or giving much hint to the heights to which Dzö-Nga was able to rise a year later. Completists may dare to love it, but it's a tougher sell for others.

Bandcamp: https://avantgardemusic.bandcamp.com/album/five-treasures-of-snow.

Killing Songs :
Eyes of God
Andy quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Dzö-Nga that we have reviewed:
Dzö-Nga - The Sachem's Tales reviewed by Andy and quoted 92 / 100
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