Nergard - A Bit Closer to Heaven

Nergard A Bit Closer to Heaven cover
A Bit Closer to Heaven
Battlegod Productions
Nergard, came to the fore a couple of years ago with “Memorial to a Wish” an album that featured an arm’s length of guests and seemed to have been in the works for quite a while. Now a couple of years later, certainly long enough to be able to come up with, a second chapter to this Norwegian melodic metal solo vehicle for bassist (?) I believe Andreas Nergard, who also assumes drums and keyboard duties.
Opener, “Light and Shadows” features Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear and formerly Gamma Ray, who is his usual great, along with Nils K. Rue of Pagan’s mind, who is unfortunate enough to be featured on the same track with him as well as Andi Kravljaca of Aeon Zen and Ole Martin Moe Thornæs form Rudhira. While it’s not a bad song, the “too many cooks in the kitchen” approach doesn’t add much – as without Scheepers the song, would hardly “stand”.
“Fall From Grace” featuring Tempo’s Thomas Løseth is a lot more poppy and while it has a decent chorus, it feels a bit different. I am uncertain if this album has a deeper “concept”, but this change doesn't help in terms of consistency.
“On Through the Storm” has Amaranth’s/Kamelot’s Elize Ryd and Andi Kravljaca again and it’s a nice enough power ballad, feeling a bit like an under orchestrated Kamelot track.
“Let It Come” features Michael Eriksen of Circus Maximus, who’s a pretty good vocalist, plus some guest guitarist, on the solo Øyvind Voldmo Larsen (Withem), if you need to know. It has quite a few good things going on for it, but as it tries to combine a poppy and a more “atmospheric” approach, it does tend to feel a bit forced and not as effortless as great power pop does.
I cannot comment on “Stay” (featuring Thomas Løseth), since I do believe I cannot find it in my promo directory for some reason.
“Help Me Through the Night”, featuring Andi Kravljaca and a guitar solo by Stig Nergård (Brother? Cousin? Not related?), from the quite worthy Tellus Requiem, is much more atmospheric and electrified at the same time as it has a constant riff running through most of its duration. Quite the dramatic tune and one of the better ones, here.
“I Will Find You” (featuring Andi Kravljaca) who seems to be shouldering an awful lot of the tunes on the album – possibly dueting with “himself?” is another quite dramatic and urgent tune that might be more peaceful, but is every bit as good. He stays on board for the title track which is a proggier, more complex number which probably encompasses all the atmospheres that are utilized in the album, but doesn’t quite have the same effect as the two that precede it.
Last but not least there is a song with female leads, but I believe that the main singer utilized is a lady by the name of Sunniva Unsgård, who is doing a good enough job, on the closing track the ballad “When All I Want is You”... I feel that having miss Ryd sing this one as well, might have worked a lot better, since she has a brighter overall tone that’s more pleasing.
Nergard’s second attempt is nowhere near as star studded as their debut, nor is it as impressive upon first inspection. Repetitive listens, made the album more endearing, but still, I wasn’t as impressed as I was with their debut and I cannot say, if it’s the choice of singers, or the material that didn’t quite do it for me as much as previously. It’s probably a bit of both. Still worth checking out, but nothing to go crazy about.