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Prog Tales of Misery Adorned - 85%

Metal_On_The_Ascendant, November 21st, 2020

Armenia's Bread and Wine surmise they play "bipolar music" and my suggestion for a better term was quelled once I thoroughly acquainted myself with this, "Petrichor", the band's first full length. For here we have about 40 or so minutes of pure doom in a constant state of overwrought trudging. And trudge it must because Bread and Wine are prone to extending the barest of melodies until earwormy plaintive gems appear and re-appear. The music can be pleasant and humbling, very evasive and melodically modest and then cruel and cold with sparse harmonic buildups and bass that crumbles for days. There's over-indulgent sections of indulging way too much...in nothing; sections of ideas that sprouted and then were left to die as if the musicians took off to contemplate the weight of what these things would mean. Seems scathing but I am paying them a high compliment. This album is bracingly cerebral without being pretentious or sacrificing style for big thinks.

The vocals of Ravenna and Lilly Morrigan Demirjian sound both tired and soothing in one breath. They are made of incredible control and restraint and guide these songs with all the undramatic poise of familiar dark-soul sisters like Farida Lemouchi of The Devil's Blood and Sara B of Messa. Liliane's vocals on "Trauma" are particularly heartbreaking as she begs for clarity upon an event that can never be translated into happiness and safety. The band delicately and savagely analyzes the finer points of keeping your authenticity in check as you grapple with adorning misery and disillusionment in some eloquence just to get by. They do this over ambient plodding that births strange riffs and proggy structures. It sounds as majestic as it is dour. Every song on here is a grower of the best kind, the sort that makes your ears perk up with every spin. I foresee this being my album of the year after my 50th listen or so.

"Black Wedding" has beautiful doom riffs that contrast nicely with the clearer murk where a lady sings the blues. Constant melancholy drips from her voice and from the burning, nearly cacophonous burst of leads that emanate from songwriter Franklin Avetisyan's axe. Shattering crescendos for everything then lead us to the desolate end. "Ulysses" takes over and sounds like a stoner trio jamming with the bass and guitar making distinct patterns over a real grimy drum motif until "Mutilated Horse" arrives in shimmering tones and the dream-like trance once again overtakes. I have to mention that through the very marked ups and downs, Bread and Wine sound fully competent and so accomplished that it is quite bewildering that this is their first album. All the contrasts and abruptisms that are the essence of this record are executed cleverly and seamlessly and that alone is reason to experience this for oneself.