Monday, September 2, 2013

Branikald - Рдяндалир (1996)

Рдяндалир is the sophomore effort from Branikald. Released just one month after their first album, in January 1996, it already shows quite a departure from the band's established sound. While it still falls within the same realm, the style is very different. The album can be looked at as two separate halves, one much more successful and enjoyable than the other, perhaps. Overall, Branikald seemed to be going for a more atmospheric approach, this time around.

The first two song, "Микрокосм Духа" and "Дух Смысла", create an atmosphere that is rather introspective and gloomy, though not overly melancholic. It is almost the feeling of a somewhat resigned acceptance of a miserable existence that will never improve. Rather than the cries of the tormented, one can hear the sighs of the oppressed, knowing that all is wrong with the world but never having actually experienced anything better, so there is hardly anything to mourn other than ideas. Musically, one is reminded of Burzum and Strid, at times, though this is even less dynamic than the latter. The obvious Darkthrone-worship has given way to a strong influence from the work of Varg Vikernes. The compositions are lengthy and repetitious, as simple guitar melodies flow over almost nonexistent drums. The vocals are rather sparse, sounding somewhat distant and obscure, with the occasional clean cries thrown in. This is very dreary and minimalist.

The second half of the album is where some may get lost. "Безвременной Тьмой Ночной" is rather odd, as the pace picks up but the main melody is played with a clean guitar, lacking any distortion. This creates a really disjointed effect, as the drums and vocals do not fit at all. It sounds very awkward. Unfortunately, this continues on the final track, which consists only of this clean guitar and desperate clean vocals mixed in with the normal ones. It works a little better than the previous track, just because it lacks drums and thus doesn't sound as out of place.

The production is worse than on the last album. In this case, that is not a good thing. Lo-fi is fine, but this possesses flaws that are rather distracting. It sounds like it was recorded onto a warped cassette, almost. The cymbals are a little annoying and the volume seems to go up and down, for no reason. As well, the vocals are mixed at different levels on the various songs. They are buried a bit on the first track, while coming through pretty clearly on the next.

In the end, Рдяндалир can be seen as somewhat of an experimental release. This time, it seems to have failed. That is not to say that this is a bad album. For the period, it was already very unoriginal, though not nearly as much as it would be considered now. Fans of early Burzum and the LLN bands should definitely give this a listen. If you don't mind something a bit strange and inconsistent, this may be worth your time, though it is a definite step down from Varg Fjerne A Tornet.