Released: 2010, Trollzorn
Reviewer: Theis Rytoft
Bran Barr is an unusual name if you are not used to folk/black metal. If you are, it does not come as such a big surprise: Many bands have illustrative and atypical names. A bit of a charm? Yes, I think so. To get some insight, “Bran Barr” is Gaelic for a raven who carries dying people's souls to the other side and the band is dealing with themes relating to this along with other celtic aspects. The band has been running for a long time going all the way back to 1995. In between now and then the band had many years of inactivity but are back with the album SIDH.
Before listening, the cover really caught my sight with its very beautiful drawing of a forest as well as the character taking place in the middle of the cover. A nice beginning that continues with the first track “Origin - The Birth of Fearg”, which is the ever present symbolic entrance to a folk metal album, but nonetheless very fitting here with its gentle melodic strokes. The next track follows with nice drum kicks being neither too powerful or too weak. Especially combined with the pipe/flute/whistles sounds it makes for an excellent combination. Lovely! The track also includes differing vocals from shrieks (read black metal) to clear ones. Something which occurs throughout the whole full-length and thank some Celtic God for that!
Another track showing strength is “Fury - Exile of the Orphan” with its powerful drumming and the atmospheric choir voices making a fine contrast to the front singer. The last 1 minute of the track gets too boring though with repetitive drumming and somewhat dull vocals. Track 4 features a 2 minute slow instrumental, making for a good break but afterwards the essence of the album starts declining. I find the continuing folk elements a bit too monotonous and the vocalist sounds uninspiring in some parts.
Generally SIDH contains a lot of atmosphere and manages to create a satisfying folk sound with gripping elements. But Bran Barr fails at keeping these elements long lasting through all 10 tracks. I consider some of them to be a bit too extensive but “Journey - The grand quest for the magical acorn”, being 12 minutes, simply catches the album up in a fulfilling musical way, illustrating the band’s sound. The two tracks “Profediez” and “Ode aux Lointains souverans” are completely featureless, except for some cool guitar play in the first. Especially the sing-song annoys me. I cannot see the point of including these on SIDH and just takes up time.
Ultimately the album ends up decently with a catchy sound though it is not present during all tracks. SIDH has flaws such as repetitiveness and insipidity while benefiting from a strong atmosphere that exists in many tracks. Recommendable to many folk listeners while “outsiders” will find themselves at a loss here.