NERTHIAGH - Crow of Battle, Sign of Wander - CD-R - 12 tracks - Reaping Horde - 2003

The latest release of the Portuguese label Reaping Horde, of whom J. Aernus (Karnnos, Wolfskin...) is the mentor, is a cd-r titled 'Crow of Battle, Sign of Wander'. This is the work of Nerthiagh, a project from Portugal guided by Knwyn, and known only to a limited audience for their participation to the Nemeth (Reaping Horde) and Infernal Proteus (Ajna Offensive) compilations.
For this release, that is also their first full-length album, Nerthiagh is helped by J.Aernus and Inverno on some tracks.

This work, recorded and mixed during 2002, is inspired by and dedicated to Goddess Morrigan, a mysterious and tenebrous deity of the Celtic pantheon. This said, the extensive article 'Morrigan, The three folded faces' written by J. Aernus and included in the booklet allows a more comprehensive approach to this record.
The music reflects, almost in a perfect manner, the different facets of Morrigan... Lady of Life and Death, Mother of Love and Terror... Her paradoxes are the main inspirations of a music mainly built upon dark ambient, ritual soundscapes. The general atmosphere is filled with terror, tragedy as suggested by a voice that seems to come from the very depths of the earth mixed with another male voice, a languishing accordion and repetitive drones on the excellent 'Ghelgeyr Ceann (Govereignty)' track. Likewise, only desolate and terrific images can come to mind while listening to 'By Feair Caismeachd Merre (War)', the passage depicting the warrior facet of Morrigan, her close relation to war, warriors and prophecy...
As for the 'Calbh Gluaigh Moir (Mother)', it is a beautiful mixture of spoken words, stirring accordion notes, an atmospheric melody and parsimonious raven chants... that recall that Morrigan was also depicted as a crow in medieval literature.
Sometimes, this peculiar atmosphere takes leave of its dark cold burden to reach some more appeasing moments like in the long final track 'Fiachaire Dream Chant (Prophecy)'.
All this makes a remarkable and unique production (intellectually, spiritually and musically speaking) able to reach and express the tragedy and horror but also the beauty and poetry of life and death... the conflictory essence of this Goddess.

As all Reaping Horde productions, 'Crow of Battle, Sign of Wander' comes in an original hand-made artwork made of ancient paper, dried branches of bushes plus a booklet including the article mentioned above.

Having experienced this record (reading and listening), I can just hope for more material in the future from 'He of pale night fog' and from this uncommon and indispensable label...

Highly recommended!

Nathalie F.
Summer 2004

Reaping Horde:

Other Reaping Horde productions reviewed on our pages:

Wolfskin - Campos de Matança
Once A Barge - The Withered Leaves
The Nemeth - Compilation
The Joy of Nature and Discipline - The Fog that Life is Haunted By

and an extensive interview of J. Aernus