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Cân Bardd > The Last Rain > Reviews
Cân Bardd - The Last Rain

A majestic voyage and orc chants - 92%

Absinthe1979, June 17th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Northern Silence Productions (Limited edition, Digipak)

Northern Silence Productions has a lot to answer for in relation to my depleting bank balance and increasing CD collection, as they continue to offer outstanding atmospheric black metal releases with alarming regularity.

Switzerland's Can Bardd is another example of the Summoning template being used as the base for a dazzling emotional journey into fantastical worlds, where a blend of Tolkienesque wonder meets the internal journey of the everyman from a modern world that is changing, chaotically and shrilly, beneath his feet. Malo Civelli is the mastermind, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist here, and he has crafted some simply gorgeous epics that are powerfully emotional and moving. The real drums played by Dylan Wilson in a deft performance add a powerfully authentic feel and backbone.

At 5 tracks and nearly 51 minutes in length, we’re talking epic in musical scope yet also expanse. I don’t usually begin reviews with a negative, but first track ‘Between Hope and Reality’ contains what I consider to be the only off-point of the whole project: an excessive run time that isn't required. It begins with some nice acoustic guitar and some beautiful multi-tracked clean vocals, before building up to an epic metal movement of melodic guitars, harsh vocals and soaring keyboards. The song carries on very well, and the acoustic guitars return around the 9 minute mark, and I think, wow that was a great opening track, expecting it to close – it was the perfect moment to end. Yet the music picks up again, I look at the time, and there’s still a whole 6 minutes to go! ‘Between Hope and Reality’ is a mammoth 15 minutes long, and I really don’t think enough is happening in those final 6 minutes to justify the song carrying on like that, as the riffs, largely devoid of vocals by this stage, seem very samey to what came before.

Fortunately, second track ‘Celestial Horizon’ is not just the best song on the album, I would raise it up as one of epic black metal’s greatest all time songs. What a beautiful piece of music this is, from the opening sounds of a harp (or equivalent) being plucked, before a stunning piping melody comes in that screams Summoning at their best, before the song launches with huge guitars, multi-layered growls and screams. Then, from out of nowhere, in what is a brilliantly inspired moment, the music stops, and what can only be described as an orc chant begins around the 5 minute mark. Yes, it sounds like orcs chanting together. It’s strangely rhythmic, it repeats several times, then the musical blasts back in, the orc chant continues, a clean voice soars over the top, and we have what I’m calling my favourite musical moment of the year so far. It is nothing short of amazing.

‘The Fog of War’ is a short musical palate cleanser, with soft piano notes before a wave of emotive synth rolls through, like the quickening of a mountain breeze across the slopes. The final two tracks offer more changes of pace, and an almost palpable atmosphere. The end of ‘Clouds and Feuds’, with its piano melody atop the blast beat, and that guitar… is something to behold. Final track 'The Last Rain' ends with some excellent clean male voices that chant their way to a close. The album concludes with the sound of rain and subtle bird-call.

Like many Northern Silence Productions releases, the album artwork is beautiful. Mountains, a cascading river and my digipak version contains a booklet with lyrics and more evocative illustrations of mountains and nature scenes. Limited to 999 copies, I highly recommend you get hold of a copy if you can. You’ll treasure it for years.

It’s hard to know where to rate this album. The first song is just too long and probably my least favourite aspect to the album. The rest of the album is simply stunning. It’s beautifully produced, ambitious, and yet another wonderful example of what is possible in the modern age of music production; no personal million euro Wintersun studios are required here. It’s a grand escape; a majestic voyage. I encourage you to take it.

Mountains, Forests, Nature - 95%

andreipianoman, February 22nd, 2019

Cân Bardd is an atmospheric folk black metal solo project from Switzerland by multi-instrumentalist, composer and vocalist Malo Civelli. With his debut album out less than one year ago, he is already approaching the release of his second full-length titled "The Last Rain", coming on February 22nd. And it came to me as quite a surprise because you just don't expect that such an unknown name would write and release good and relevant music in such a short time. But that's exactly what this guy did. This project sounds new and unusual in all the right ways and so far it's probably the best album I've heard this year. 

Seeing song lengths around the 10 minute mark and an album composed of only five songs, you should pretty much expect that this is gonna take patience. And when you play the first track you may be tempted to dismiss it right away as a really slow and dragging acoustic harmony opens the album with more silence than notes for over one minute. But please don't! Wait through it and give this 15 minute song at least one full listen before jumping to any conclusions because it's a thing of beauty. As the artwork and titles may suggest, this is very nature oriented music and it's done right. It's the kind of music that makes you see mountains and forests and unspoiled natural landscapes. And the slow pace of evolution really connects with that.

The way such different elements come together in this album is incredible. There are slow folk sections with no hint of metal that will really take their time and build a very peaceful mood that will have you envisioning yourself away from civilization or technology. Using a lot of acoustic guitar (or maybe classical?), piano and keyboards, a pretty meditative mood is created and if you stick with it for a while it will allow you to slow yourself down to its pace so that it doesn't get boring. It's not instant gratification but real, genuine enjoyment that you have to internalize in order to really feel it. But fear not because the metal will eventually come and it will either slowly creep over this ambiance or crash down all at once. Either way, the peaceful atmosphere stays through it. That's what's most amazing. This guy will actually throw blast beats, tremolo picking and wild black metal shrieks at you without hurting the immersive atmosphere. And that dude on the drums did some really savage work. There's a very natural flow in the music that is given by the continuation of some melodies from the soft parts into the heavy ones. A melody that was soothing when played on acoustic guitar will become epic when moved on tremolo picking and backed by the grinding drums that never overpower it. No matter how aggressive the music gets, these uplifting soaring melodies always shine through and in the end the album maintains a surreal blend of raw power and untainted clarity. Then there's the final touch of beauty and majesty in the smooth coat of keyboard synth that hovers above all the other layers giving the sound that "breath of fresh air" effect.

A few brilliant touches added to this blend of contrasts make it a real masterpiece. There are some very well placed chants of layered clean vocals sounding like anthems and some guest vocals that sprinkle a little variety. Another great idea was the "tribal" percussion and scream part in "Celestial Horizon". But my favorite twist in the album is the third song, "Fog of war", which is a five minute interlude consisting of piano, strings and acoustic guitar that are then complemented with a great use of cello before flowing into the next song as the heavy guitars kick in.

The whole composition is then brought to life through a very well executed raw mix that allows some elements to sound clean and a bit processed without straying away from the organic roots that bring the album its unique and lively feel. The result is a fifty minute album that I want to take to the mountains and listen to on repeat with a spectacular landscape in front of me and if nature would be on my side, a bit of mist and a slightly rainy scent in the air. But until you can get to that place, Cân Bardd still does a great job at bringing the spirit of nature in the comfort of your own home.

Originally written for The Metal Observer.