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Qntal – “VII” Review

A triumphant return after six years in slumber

I do appreciate and love Qntal’s album naming. When I originally became a fan between their third and fourth albums, I at least knew where most of the back catalogue was! Now back for a seventh album, Qntal have had a bit of line up change and also in some ways the sound has become slightly more reliant on the electronic grooves than previously. It’s a shift that’s been happening over several albums but here you can really appreciate the formed sound. Six years in waiting – has it been worth it?

Opening with the drones of “Flaming Drake”, we have plenty to enjoy from the amazing instrumentation to the siren voices of the leads. The production is top-notch and the track itself is catchy and dark at the same time. Singles in waiting “Tenacious Love” and “Tyger” follow – both merging the old and new to perfection. The latter track in particular feels like a new pop genre with a bombastic beat and lots of Eastern instrumentation and synths being used to create a great atmosphere. Wikipedia calls the band electro-medieval and it’s a perfect banner for Qntal. “By the Light of the Moon” see’s Michael take over lead vocals for a mid tempo industrial track that is mysterious and warped. Michael’s vocals often aren’t given enough appreciation because Syrah’s voice is so recognisable and supreme but this is a welcome turn of events and adds a new dimension. With Mariko, a new band member also providing strings and back up vocals – it’s a powerhouse.

“Blown Northerne Wynd” showcases how more electronic Qntal have progressed since 2008. The keyboards and strings interact with each other playfully but skilfully and instead of going straight for the pulsating beat, there’s more intricate melodies going on behind the initial chord structure. “Swebend” is far quieter and ambient in many ways and the album takes breath before the giant “Fruhlingslied” which features both lead vocalists, an amazing crossing over of olden instruments and new almost with some heavy guitar and industrial percussion. It’s a classic track and one I’m sure fans old and new will lap up. “Schnee” on the otherhand begins with piano and vocal and evolves into a sermon being given to a slow beat. It’s rich in texture and depth and continues to show Qntal’s ability to weave instruments together in unique and daring ways. Huge respect.

“In Dem Begyn” takes the band towards trance with the previous sermon like undertones providing the base for an up tempo number with plenty of embellishments. It’s amazingly catchy and I was dancing around my living room with my violin to it happily! “Rossignolet” has some amazing string work that supports Syrah’s voice which along with the flute is the main reason the track works so well. It’s a furious folk tune and a hark back to earlier albums. “Flame Amoureuse” plays on tuned percussion for wrapping itself around the exquisite vocals of Syrah and the production pushes everything very close to the ear. It feels like it’s been produced by someone else entirely and whilst the song is great, it does jar the ears a little. “Musa Venit” returns to the previous production levels and weaves a witchy dance that’s catchy and angelic in many ways before “Melos Lacrimosum” is mostly an instrumental and it uses its time to blast the dance floors with its electro-medieval finest before “Nox Aeterna” rounds off the album with a track that verges on techno at times in its six-minute epic – it also borrows from other tracks almost like a dramatic recap finale which is kind of cool.

So it’s an evolution rather than a revolution but after six years in slumber, Qntal have returned and created a stonking album. I have found Qntal’s albums have always been solid if similar in places and this starts to diversify them a bit which is a good thing. Seven in and going strong. Electro medieval is looking good right now.

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