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Brann > Вселенная скорби > Reviews
Brann - Вселенная скорби

Debut atmospheric BM work lacks individuality - 55%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 18th, 2016

Translating from Russian into English as "Universe of Grief", this album is the first long-playing recording for one-man BM project Brann. Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be much information on the Internet about Brann or its sole member S though the project is signed up to NitroAtmosfericum Records, a label based in Novosibirsk in western Siberia.

For the most part, the album is efficient and straightforward black metal with possibly some death metal influences though it's not really outstanding in any way. While well-made and produced with a good sound, the recording doesn't seem particularly sad or even slightly negative. I may be assuming too much from the title of course, and there are moments where distant background howling hints at desperation - but if this music is intended to be atmospheric BM, then the atmosphere is very low-gravity-planet thin indeed. Keeping to a minimal instrumental set-up of guitars and percussion doesn't help much with atmosphere and mood. Neither does a constant speedy pace that rushes the guitars through mostly unremarkable series of riffs and melodies.

While all four songs are very busy and energetic and S tries hard playing all instruments and employing a rasping guttural vocal, they don't come across as very inspired. They don't draw on aspects of S's surroundings wherever he is and though the music is raw enough, it lacks individual style and sounds very generic. Most songs are not very distinctive from one another either. The title track stands out a little more from the others with a slightly sadder air and some actual mournful melodies for a change but by the time the album reaches that point, most listeners may have drifted away.

I'd have liked to hear more varied music with a definite style and some original ideas and concepts that would distinguish Brann from all other Russian one-man and group BM projects. In the last several years Russian black metal has taken off in a big way, not just in the major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg but also in provincial cities across the country, so there is a lot of competition for the attention of audiences and people are able to pick and choose what appeals to them most. Sad to say but to be noticed for more than Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame, bands do have to offer something that is unique and which differentiates them from everyone else.

Inconsistent consistency - 65%

oneyoudontknow, December 22nd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Independent

Anticipation gets the best of you, so why not unleash it all with the howling of a wolf. No wolf pack, just a sole lone bloody beast. One howl ... and nothing more, except for the music of course. Yet it is an interesting aspect nonetheless. Three times, half times the six, howls are needed in order for the vocals to join in and add their distinct growling, croaking thing to the flow of the arrangements, melodies and darkness. Sadly, the flea-infested bugger is not able to keep this mouth shut and likes to throw in a howl now and then; well, until the end of the track.

Brann's music is empty. Empty like the void of the taiga and tundra; except for some bloody wolf who has the rabies. Naturally, what else?, the music does not appear overburdened with unnecessary elements or diversions. There is nothing to see in the endless wilderness of the east and in order to reflect it properly, the progression and complexity is limited to occasional bursts of vocals or an annoying brain dead wolf.

Yes, it is black metal... but it does not follow any well-established direction or conception. Those riffs are of a kind that shows hints towards more established and well-known bands, but the actual style is as such as to avoid a clear recognition right form the start. A bit of this and a bit of that; somehow fresh, somehow dated. Brann do not appear to have a definite opinion in this regard. This is quite interesting because on a close examination of the tracks, it is revealed how limited the conceptual breadth of the album actually is. The sole musician behind this band stuck (mostly) to one approach and varied the elements around it.

First part ----- vocal part ----- last part
(tracks 1 - 3)

There is nothing more to it. One may argue at this point that this alone would or even should be brought up as a major aspect of criticism, because this limitation appears to be unnecessary or even artificial. Considering how the last track breaks away from the previously established flow of the arrangements, it is a very strange experience indeed. Without lyrics at hand and without any level of understanding of the Russian tongue, it is difficult to thoroughly grasp the deeper meaning of this diversion of the concept, the general that is, which does not only open but also actually dominates the release. While atmosphere is important indeed, the reliance of not only to maintain it up, but also to keep the attention of the listener over a considerable amount of time, keep in mind that three of those compositions exceed the mark of ten minutes, might be something the band has not considered in its fullest. Beithíoch, an Irish black metal band, experimented with the aspect of instrumental black metal as well and it is save to say that their performances in this regard are anything but convincing. Generally speaking, there is all too often the feeling as if the music would lead to some point of eruption, which is never destined to come. Anticipation is being build up, but in the end it leads nowhere and all the energy simply fades away into nothingness or Russian taiga or tundra or to one alcoholic wolf. Well, something similar happens on this album as well, but on a smaller degree. The blistering cold riffs lash off one after another, but they fail to have a lasting impression. It is not as impressive as some of Immortals work, not as icy as Darkthrone and not as unforgiving as some of the aggressive black metal bands.

Is this a bad release, then? It depends. It may be save to say that it really depends on personal preferences. This is anything but mainstream black metal, hell, it is not even mainstream in terms of any kind of song-writing. Brann's performance circles around itself. The production is actually good, the arrangements are interesting and there are little facets that would be a definite disturbance. The debut release of Brann is atmospheric black metal, with a definite emphasis on the descriptor.

In the end it is save to say that all wolves howling in unison could not have changed matters for the better.