BLACKBRIAR – THE CAUSE OF SHIPWRECK
Author: Ryan Callander
After seven years of singles, EPs and support slots for the likes of Epica and Delain, Dutch goth-metal mavericks BLACKBRIAR have finally unleashed their debut full-length, “The Cause Of Shipwreck”.
Their sound skillfully straddles the boundary between dreams and nightmares, if nightmares could all be directed by Tim Burton. Storming opener “Confess“, with its sweeping, string backed intro, hypnotic mantra-like vocals and robust metal backbone, sets the tone for the first two acts of this record. BLACKBRIAR’s impishly fun, theatrical flair is proudly on display.
Tracks like “The Séance“ and “Walking Over My Grave“ slightly (and ónly slightly) tone down the more extravagant aspects of their sound, using robust metal riffs to let the storytelling quality of frontwoman Zora Cock’s performance really shine. Then it all takes a left-turn through the mist and gnarled roots of their soundscape, culminating in fantastic vocal acrobatics.
Across their oeuvre, BLACKBRIAR have built a solid and genuinely unique form of haunting, melodic and gleefully Grimm gothic metal. So, the most rewarding tracks on this release are those which indulge curious little corners of their impressively eclectic sound.
This is why the penultimate numbers on the disk will stay with you the longest. Someone in the BLACKBRIAR camp has clearly been spinning a hell of a lot of Myrkur and it had the best possible influence on these unexpectedly climactic tunes. Like Denmark’s finest, BLACKBRIAR are masters of offering new takes on age-old tales and the music of the lands which birthed them.
“Selkie“ tells the story of the bewitching seal-women of Scottish folklore: beginning with gently plucked strings and a distinctly Celtic warble in Zora’s voice before, like a storm battering craggy cliffs, a barrage of guitars clatters into the tragic tale. And, if anything, Amalie Bruun’s influence is even stronger on “Deadly Diminuendo“. This melancholic ballad begins with a haunting herding call, but progresses to the most assertive riff on the disk and hook which will burn its way into your memory like a sunset lighting a mountain range ablaze.
But these are definitely, defiantly, BLACKBRIAR’s tracks. On this album, the unsettling yet awesomely energetic vocals, lush composition, and workmanlike, no-nonsense metal undertow of their sound have really come into their own. And we can’t wait to hear which unexpected places, which undiscovered stories, it’ll take us to next.