Dzö-nga – Thunder In The Mountains
Dzö-nga is a Boston, Massachusetts-based band formed in 2016. They bring fantasy themes to life with folk, ambient, black, and doom metal mixtures that excite the senses by creating ethereal, haunting melodies intended to inspire awe. Focusing on folklore and mythology, they generate music that fills in the sonic area of tales as old as humankind itself. The song’s cinematic feel helps the listener visualize the story.
- Cryvas – Instruments/Vocals/Songwriting
- Grushenka Odegard – Vocals
- Ray King – Bass
- Thorir Nyss – Guitars
- Raphael Weinroth Browne – Cello (Track 5)
- Nick Gallop – Guitar Solo (Tracks 1, 6)
- Dan Wilson – Additional Vocals (Track7)
- Jake Lachapelle – Additional Strings (Track 4)
Release Date: February 14, 2020
- The Song Of Hiawatha
- Heart Of Coal
- Flames In The Sky
- A Soul To Burn
- Starlight, Moonlight, Firelight
- The Death Of Minnehaha
The album opens with “The Song OF Hiawatha,” a haunting and ethereal tale of a great warrior. The beginning, gentle and endearing, belie the middle sections. There are a lot of progressive elements to this song. The shifts and changes are classic prog in many ways, adding to the complexity and beauty of the tune. The melancholy female vocals between the clean and growled male vocals give more breadth to the track. At almost 11 minutes long, this song is epic in every sense of the word. It has a grandeur that is not to be denied. The sheer volume of instruments on this track is a pleasure to behold. They create layers of sound that just delight the senses.
“Heart Of Coal” opens with a dramatic piano segment. The riff is massive on this song. The melody is dark, and the vocals echo this with harsh male and haunting female vocals. The drums are bombastic, and the bass thundering as the layers of instruments build another sonic landscape to entice the mind. The strings draw the mind to darker themes. The guitar solo, set in a downturn of the melody, is gentle while remaining dark. The ethereal female vocals are the single point of light in the dreariness that is the lyrical theme of the song.
Next, we get “Flames In The Sky,” a brutal song about heading for death. The keyboards counteract the heavy riff with some lighter tones. Again, the contrast between the harsh male and clean female voices creates a lot of tension in the song, similar to the keys and guitars working in different registers. That tension in the music makes me feel like there might just be some hope, but the brutality, especially on the last note, seems to snuff that out. I feel like vengeance won this time.
Reading the lyrics of “A Soul To Burn” is a little scary, in a good way. The inevitable destination of this track is Hell. The drum blast beats, coupled with a massive riff formed by the bass and guitars in harmony, make this one feel doomed from the beginning. Even with that, the keyboards come soaring over the soundscape, trying to give a tiny bit of hope that the journey could end in a better place. It’s an interesting addition to the track. The instrumental interlude at about five minutes does the same thing, but the end state still appears to be damnation. In every epic tale, there must be this struggle.
“Starlight, Moonlight, Firelight” is a four-minute instrumental. It opens peacefully with an acoustic-sounding guitar that lulls you into a sense of serenity. The lower-end guitar picking, along with the strings and bird sounds, creates feelings of calmness and puts me into a meditative state. Without words, Dzö-nga has allowed me to relax and revel in the ambient sounds of a folk tune meant to delight the senses and fill the mind with happy thoughts. I need this after the first four songs have challenged my soul.
“The Death Of Minnehaha” is broken into three sections, showing that prog metal can fit into blackened folk metal. Telling a tale of death is never easy, especially when that tale is set to music. This is a eulogy with a soundtrack. There is an eloquence to it, a song and a story with both heavy and light elements, telling both about the life and the death of Minnehaha. The progressive transitions are again beautiful. The tempo and tone shift really intensify the story, adding more depth to the tale as a whole.
Dzö-nga is a blackened, progressive, folk, symphonic metal band capable of creating imagery with not just their music but with their ability to tell the story within the music. They carefully craft the tones and textures of the music to fit into the lyrics and vice versa. They create complete stories with everything you need to build a mental image of what you are hearing. The stories are epic tales meant to instruct and inspire and amaze.
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9