Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Branikald - Winterkald (1997)

The fourth full-length album from Branikald, Winterkald, was released in 1997. Originally titled Av VinterKald, this L.P. was recorded the previous year, meaning that all of the first four efforts were created in a very short span of time. The music on here follows the same path as its immediate predecessor, Kveldulv, offering up six tracks of cold and minimalist Black Metal. On average, the songs are a little shorter, but there are more of them this time.

Musically, Winterkald does not stray from the style of the previous record. Still, Kaldrad is able to make something meaningful within this simple framework. The melodies seem rather basic at first, but there are subtle nuances that really add a lot of depth and character to the songs. As with the last release, the songs follow the familiar pattern of consisting of fast-picked tremolo riffs with drums that pound away in the distance, hardly perceptible, as the guitars lull you into a trance. The feeling is austere and cold, much as the title would suggest. The vocals are raw and hateful, often rather sparse, allowing the music to really paint a grim and desolate picture in the mind of the listener. In the case of "Сжигая за собой мосты", one is almost reminded of Moonblood, with some of the haunting melodies that flow in and out. There is a sense of urgency to some of them, accentuated by the heightened tension in the vocal delivery. Even within this minimalist style, the atmosphere is very dynamic and poignant. This is not really depressive, yet there are certain melodies that are incredibly sorrowful in the way that they reach right into you and tear at your heart. The more you listen to this, the more you feel carried away from this disgusting world and into some vast, endless forest covered with layers of snow and ice. The sounds here take you far beyond the mortal realm, into a desolate place bereft of the curse of humanity.

The production is rather similar to Kveldulv, being very raw and primitive. The guitars have a very cold feeling and dominate the sound. The drums sort of just pulse in the background, keeping time but not doing much to stand out, just loud enough to be heard but nothing more. The vocals seem to have a little more reverb than before, but not a lot, which helps with the obscure and hellish effect. All in all, the sound is perfect for this type of music.

Winterkald is a very enjoyable album for anyone into the same sort of minimalist Black Metal that was spawned by Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger. The atmosphere is sombre and frigid and the songwriting is very strong, with each composition flowing into the next in a natural way. Everything here fits together and there are no inconsistencies, for once. This is highly recommended for fans of real Black Metal, not the commercial garbage that has usurped that label these days.