by MythofRock

Dutch symphonic metal band Blackbriar delivers a flair of dramatic and cinematic vocals, with a twist of macabre. Their stories in their records feel like spooky gothic novels, akin to Edgar Allan Poe and fairytales. It’s as if they’ve created a unique world. After three Eps and their debut album, “The Cause of Shipwreck” (2021), “A Dark Euphony” released on September 29th, 2023, via Nuclear Blast Records, continues that same universe. It starts with “An Unwelcome Guest.” It opens with a siren-like vocal by Zora Cock before a powerful guitar solo kicks in, played by Bart Winters. Then the song turns into full speed and full nightmare. Thundering drums, played by René Boxem, complement Zora’s vocals very well, creating the ambiance the band is known for. The next track, “For Distant Land”, starts with a folk and medieval groove, inviting the listener to dance. It carries a Celtic vibe and is inspired by the popular historical fantasy novels “Outlander” by American author Diana Gabaldon. The song describes the heroine Claire’s journey through time to 18th century Scotland and her undying love for Highlander Jamie. The rhythm guitar by Robin Koezen and the bass by Siebe Sol Sijpkens are crucial here. “Spirit of Forgetfulness” is a beautiful mid-tempo track. Blackbriar proves that they can compose songs that aren’t necessarily dark or gloomy. It has a simple melody. “Bloody Footprints in the Snow” is their heaviest and darkest track on the record! It starts with powerful drumming by René, alongside dramatic strings by Ruben Wijga. This is probably Zora’s best vocal performance, as she puts all her effort into blending all the notes here. “The Evergreen and The Weeping Tree” combines Zora’s delicate vocals with Ruben’s beautiful piano melodies. A mournful-sounding cello and orchestrations follow. It’s a delicate and romantic ballad. “Cicada” delivers some intense melodic hooks with soaring vocals. A very poetic music. “My Soul’s Demise” is a dark tale about a sin-eater crafted with all the Blackbriar trademark elements. It has dramatic orchestration that complements Zora’s voice, ending with a powerful guitar solo. “We Make Mist” flows between ethereal singing and instrumentals that ground in heavy sounds, encapsulating all that makes this band so alluring and gripping. “Thumbelina” has superb choruses and hooks that captivate the listener from the first minute. “Forever and a Day” is a Gothic romance with a tempestuous guitar solo that elevates to the stratosphere. The closing track, “Crimson Faces,” has swelling orchestrations and powerful orchestrations that leave the listener wanting more. Not only does “A Dark Euphony” deliver gloomy melodies, ominous soundscapes, and dark poetic lyricism, but it is also an all-killer no-filler type of album. Blackbriar shows maturity and growth, delivering powerful guitar riffs and interesting mid-tempos. Also, Zora Cock has an amazing voice that can be compared to Simone Simons (Epica), Amy Lee (Evanescence), and Liv Kristine from the Theatre Of Tragedy era.

♦ 9/10

Raquel Miranda

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