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Life itself turned pale and ended - 85%

jeanshack, June 25th, 2011

Not surprising that the introduction to this record happened during my doom death and progressive death phase. Anything along the lines of Opeth, My Dying Bride or Moonsorrow would have pleased my appetite. In fact, Mikael Åkerfeldt's well rounded deep growl was among my preferred styles within death metal. And one day, just like that, I came to realize that he has done vocals for another band from Sweden -- Katatonia. This prompted an immediate listen to Brave Murder Day.

The band sounded nothing like Opeth, they were more dampened, a tad more depressing and wearier. Even Åkerfeldt sounded different, very different, growls were not as deep. Either I saw a new versatile facet to his vocal abilities or it was just the overall production. Intensely deep growls were toned down and replaced with more lengthy dry sound, residing somewhere between a scream and growl. The shift in vocal style also mirrors the compositions. It’s not adrenaline pumping aggressive assaults of riffage, but rather dragged out dreary riffs; monotonously resonating and lazily shifting its ebb and flow. Quite not the progressive death style.

The whole record could be split into two halves, each having its own feel. The first two songs “Brave” and “Murder” perfectly fits the description given in the above paragraph about sluggish compositions. Really gloomy and creates an ambiance of drizzling cloudy mornings. The more sinister feel is subdued till we hit the second half of the record. “Day” is a very slow track with clean vocals which bridges the two contrasting halves of the Brave Murder Day. When “Rainroom” starts you realize that the record is moving in a slightly more aggressive direction. The growls are literally unleashed; they are more on the face and louder. Drums get more prominent, in some parts the incessant double bass pounding is heard quite noticeably. Sometimes they are interleaved with slow guitar strumming, growls or leads.

“Rainroom” is quite refreshingly heavy and probably the best track of the record. The constant background guitar strumming fills all the crevices and makes the sound sufficiently dense. Couple of minutes into the song and the heaviness withers down a bit, but it is more than compensated by the pain invoking vocals. The song slowly builds up momentum which eventually runs into some brilliant vocals culminating in drums tailored for head banging. “Rainroom” is just the kind of song which makes the album rise above its own deserving quality rating and moves it into a must listen category. When the song tapers off to an end, everything seems to pale in comparison to the reverberating Åkerfeldt growls -- “I saw it end long before it ended, Life itself turned pale and ended”.

“12” starts of slowly and halfway into the song it truly shifts its style in sync with the essence of Brave Murder Day. The heavy rhythm guitar parts with growls are interleaved with clean guitar strumming and slow drums. This pattern is followed throughout the second half till the end where the sound gets really slow and tends to the funereal side of doom. “Endtime” also starts off with slow lead guitars, which shifts to old school heavy metal rhythm sound, then goes back to clean guitar while eventually leading up to a more heavier sound. It hardly matters how this last song goes, by this time the listener would have either got into “Brave Murder Day” or would have trashed it by now. The song ends with this constant drumming and real crude deathly vocals ending with clean guitar. It stops abruptly as if someone just snapped the power cord.

Lyrics are nightmarish, surreal and disheartening. Very much blends with the style of music. Akerfeldt does complete justice to the composer, lyricist and the production crew with his point blank blasts of growling which takes the listener to ethereal depths of doom. As the record progresses his vocals also evolve with the compositions. Towards the end the depth in his growls tend to get more and more audible. Renkse’s style of writing in this record is a bit quirky, lyrics seem like bundled up lines, as if some connecting words went missing, as if the order of lines all got jumbled up. All this idiosyncrasies and the words just work fine, it screams of pain all the way. Love the fact that he never went overboard by needlessly trying to rhyme. The record reeks of lyrical crudeness and pain, of dreary hopeless compositions and of grim pale growls in vocals. All of this concocts up wonders when Brave Murder Day is played on a drizzling Sunday morning backed with sufficient quantities of alcohol, eventually transpiring into a beautifully wasted day.