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Album Review: Blackbraid: Blackbraid II
A roaring storm of both ferocity and spiritual beauty, Blackbraid is a rapidly growing name in the Black Metal world; specifically indigenous black metal. Incorporating traditional Native American themes and instrumentation with Scandinavian Black Metal, Blackbraid makes their grand return from the depths of the Adirondack wilderness with their sophomore record Blackbraid II.
Following up last year's raging self titled debut, Blackbraid II takes everything from that debut and expands on it in the most grandiose and brutally stunning way.
The record opens with 'Autumnal Hearts Ablaze,' a hauntingly atmospheric instrumental that grips you at your very core and doesn't let go. This sets the scene beautifully before the record rips in to life with 'The Spirit Returns,' a cacophony of brutal shredding and memorabley catchy riffs. Sgah'gahsowáh's demonic growls are ground-shakingly powerful and command your attention from the onset with screams of "you will know my name!" the spirit has returned indeed. As far as opening tracks go, this is a blistering beginning to a beautiful journey.
'The Wolf That Guides the Hunters Hand' begins with a haunting howl before charging forward in fevered determination, conjuring up the image of embarking on the hunt. The black metal riffage is very much present however this foundation is supported by ferocious melody which continues to ensnare the senses. Speaking of ensnaring the senses, 'Spells of Moon and Earth' lulls the listener in to a peaceful trance with its acoustic guitar and traditional flute instrumental. A brief moment of calm and reflection before the record bursts forth with the mighty 'Moss Covered Bones on the Altar of the Moon.' An absolute monster of a track at over 13 minutes long; this masterpiece of a soundscape is a journey in itself and is arguably one of the most standout moments of the entire record. Epic riffs, beautiful flutes, thunderous drums and haunting rasps and growls calling out from the ether to draw you in.
'A Song of Death on Winds of Dawn' is all about those blistering blast-beats and lightning riffage, an absolute onslaught to the senses of sheer brutality. However at the halfway point, the track glides smoothly in to an atmospheric folk melody of traditional flute before charging forth once more. 'Celestial Passage' brings the tempo down again with another stunning instrumental interlude incorporating more haunting flute with atmospheric guitar.
'Twilight Hymn of Ancient Blood' really showcases Sgah'gahsowáh's musical prowess and artistic flair as it stomps forward at a lumbering pace with low growls and a thunderous march. Foreboding and demanding in nature to begin with, it suddenly quickens the pace and goes straight for the jugular with a vice-like grip and doesn't let go. The solo in this track just bursts out of nowhere, twisting and turning as it soars; absolutely incredible.
As the record begins to make its descent to its conclusion, 'Sadness and the Passage of Time and Memory' is more somber and morose in nature but every bit as atmospheric and blinding. Finally, the record concludes with 'A Fine Day to Die,' carrying on the same morose vibe of its predecessor before it explodes with one final blistering push of crushing riffage, soaring solos and thunderous drums.
It's clear that Blackbraid is going to be huge and will continue to rapidly climb to the upper echelons of the black metal world. Extreme ferocity laced in atmospheric grandiosity interspersed with gorgeous traditional indeginous beauty. Blackbraid is a truly incredible band and Blackbraid II is an absolute masterpiece.
Release Date: July 7th 2023
Released By: Self Released
FFO: Gaerea, Lamp of Murmuur
1) Autumnal Hearts Ablaze
2) The Spirit Returns
3) The Wolf That Guides the Hunters Hand
4) Spells of Moon and Earth
5) Moss Covered Bones on the Altar of the Moon
6) A Song of Death on Winds of Dawn
7) Celestial Passage
8) Twilight Hymn of Ancient Blood
9) Sadness and the Passage of Time and Memory
10) A Fine Day to Die