After releasing their first single earlier this year, BlackBraid have finally released their eagerly awaited first album titled Blackbraid I. Is it really the album of the year, or is there just too much hype about the Native American black metal band?
The album contains 6 tracks with a duration of 36 minutes and 14 seconds. The track titles read like a story, and it takes you on a journey:
- The River of Time Flows Through Me
- As The Creek Flows Softly By
- Barefoot Ghost Dance on Bloodsoaked Soil
- Warm Wind Whispering Softly Through Hemlock at Dusk
- Prying Open The Jaws of Eternity.
A brief rushing of the river and the first song The River of Time Flows Through Me rushes out of the speakers. Fast parts alternate with melodies, blast beats with double bass. Moreover, the vocals are rather aggressive but towards the end the song becomes calmer with beautiful dual guitar riffs which culminate in a hymnal ending that then includes fast as well as groovy parts.
Then As The Creek Flows Softly By, an atmospheric guitar flute interlude, introduces the next song, Sacandaga. This song is also very versatile and has both fast and slow groovy parts and also includes pan flute melodies. At the end, there are also some punk black metal vibes in the vein of old Darkthrone.
Barefoot Ghost Dance on Blood soaked Soil was also previously released and features a very catchy chorus:
I shall feel no pain Converge, consume, efface I shall feel no pain Converge, consume, efface
The drum work here is also very varied and always sets cool accents on the cymbals.
After the guitar intro Warm Wind Whispering Softly Through Hemlock at Dusk, the last song and absolute highlight of the album Prying Open The Jaws of Eternity starts. It is very different from the other songs and begins almost in a slow, doom style with death growls and a real headbanging part. Then there are groovy, intricate guitars reminiscent of the quieter numbers by Dissection. After a few minutes, the song picks up speed and contains one of the best melodic (black) metal guitar riffs of the last few years, which complements the vocals really well. It feels like an anthem and is very emotional. It makes you want to shout the lyrics out loud:
Born of dust and ash Reflected in the sky To walk a sacred path To bare the gift of sight
What also really stands out with BlackBraid is the good guitar work that has a lot of heart for melody and rhythm, and the well produced sound. Furthermore, the drumming by sound engineer Neil Schneider is perfectly implemented. All other Instruments were recorded by Sgah’gahsowáh on his own. Respect for that.
So, generally speaking, this is a really outstanding album that perfectly combines all styles of black metal and also deals with nature and the way we interact with it in the lyrics. All things considered, Black Braid I is one of my top 3 albums of the year, maybe even my favorite.
To sum up, the album is so interesting and multilayered that it grows with each listen. You can always discover new aspects, be it melodic arcs or quiet moments, or you delve into the lyrics, which have a lot of depth and meaning to them.
This album is a must-have for fans of Dissection and Mgla. But give the album a listen (which you can do below) and decide for yourself.