Ardent Nova have done a fantastic job seizing attention in short order. There’s the band’s name itself, which promises both determined fervor and blazing splendor. Then there’s the attention-grabbing cover art (by neo sabbath) for the band’s self-titled debut album, which is simultaneously dark and brilliant, ominous and mystical.
And foremost of all, the two songs that have been revealed so far — as well as the one we’re presenting today — are pure heavy metal glory, earning Wise Blood Records‘ comparative references to the likes of Nite, Amon Amarth, viking-era Bathory, and the much more recent but equally striking work of Majesties.
For those of you who haven’t yet encountered Ardent Nova‘s tremendous music, it’s been a long time coming. It’s the solo work of Mike Pardi (Empty Throne, ex-Draconis), joined on the album by drummer Ryan Gallagher, and first took shape 22 years ago under the name Pagan Thunder. We’ll let Mike Pardi explain more:
“Just about everything on this debut album is between 13 and 22 years old at this point, and barely got finalized when the drums were tracked in 2012. Life happens, it’s been a wild ride, and of course your own tastes change, the scene’s taste changes. I do try to keep my riffs “uniform” between all my projects, so hopefully people who were aware of Draconis can find some similarities here. But the sound has morphed into a hybrid, that’s for sure. The riffs and song structures are rooted in traditional metal, power metal, and a bit of pagan metal (or viking metal, depending on who you ask). I originally intended to collaborate with a clean-singing vocalist, but at this point my vocals are rooted in death metal. And the drummer has a big thrash background, so yeah it’s a mixed bag!”
With that back-story in mind, let’s get to the music, beginning with the extremely addictive “Rise from the Ashes“. The grand chords and ecstatically cavorting dual-guitar solo which open that song get the heart pounding and soaring right away, and the pulse stays high, thanks to the advent of hammering drums, brazen and barbaric heavy metal riffing, and howl-at-the-moon vocals. The sound is savage and electrifying, and the return of that high-flying guitar motif, along with some bracing gallops and a vivid dose of soloing sorcery, makes it even more gloriously thrilling.
The second song, “Pagan Thunder“, keeps the adrenaline flowing. More grim and warlike in its mood, it’s also hard-charging, and the feverish, fleet-fingered riffing channels a kind of blood frenzy. The rhythm section hammer away at the listeners’ autonomic nerves and the guitar work continually twists and turns — pulsating, flickering, and spiraling toward the skies — with ferocious gang yells adding to the song’s warriors-at-the-gates atmosphere.
Well, you can probably guess from the name of today’s new song — “Sound the Horns” — that Ardent Nova aren’t going to sheath their swords and settle in for a long night’s slumber, swaddled in furs — even though the somber classical strings that open the song might lead you to think they will. Instead, the music swells in power, with the swirling guitars creating ancient melodies, hallowed and medieval in their aspect.
Perhaps needless to say, the music also sounds fierce and determined. In one of the vibrant, jolting riffs you can imagine blades being rhythmically bashed against shields under banners unfurling in the wind.
Also perhaps needless to say, the song is infectious, and there’s a feeling of unmistakable, mythic grandeur in the towering chords and momentous drumwork. Shrill, flickering arpeggios seize attention, along with a gripping solo that reinforces the aura of preparing for battle in a long-lost age.
Ardent Nova was written and performed by Mike Pardi, with the aid of afore-mentioned drummer Ryan Gallagher. It was arranged and engineered by Gary Miranda and Pardi at Studio West and Warrior Recording Studio, and was mixed by Andreas Linnemann at Hop House Studio.
Some guests should also be mentioned: Backing vocals on “Pagan Thunder” were performed by Helsott, and Sean Ziemer of Battlefront contributed a guest guitar solo on “Sound the Horns“.
Wise Blood Records will release the album on March 17th, on vinyl, CD, and digital formats. Get your pre-orders in now for what is likely to be one of the year’s most memorable albums: