Tag Archives: Barshasketh

Underground Sounds: Bròn – Зарђала Круна/White City, Black Circle/Ruins/Where The Leaden Dawn Meets Iron Shores

Label: Kunsthauch/Independent
Band: Bròn
Origin: New Zealand

The project Bròn originally released an album with a very natural vibe to it. It had the eerie magic of the night sky over the mountains as depicted on the cover of ‘Ànrach’ and I absolutely loved it. I wrote a little about previous release ‘Fògradh’ too.  Bròn is the project of Krigeist, or Andrew Campbell, from New Zealand. Campbell relocated to Scotland and there’s a definite connection between that move and the sound of Bròn it seems. He also plays in the amazing Barshasketh and Belliciste.

I missed the fact that Bròn had become a prolific outlet for the musician in the past year, so high time to catch up with the astonishing 4 releases of last year. I was reminded of this, because of the live show I saw in Little Devil recently. All exploring new aspects of nature and different sounds that express that passion and beauty found there. So this is 4 reviews of one artist. Never do words like this do justice to the full force of these albums, but I feel that I need to cover all for completion.

Bròn – Зарђала Круна

January 2017 saw the release of this record, which sticks close to the familiar Bròn sound with a lot of soaring guitars and tremolo riffs. The inspiration comes from the devil in nature, that is the only info given. The choice for a Cyrillic font does say more than that though. A later notification on Facebook said that it was inspired by the Serbian wilderness and the darkness within. There’s a definite darkness to the Balkan forests that is caught in the looming, dark sound of this new EP. The untarnished sky above it at night, the shades of the trees.

The record is a multi-part atmospheric black metal piece, with a definite Burzum doom and gloom vibe to it and the grandeur of an Elderwind.  The crisp clear production sometimes borders on overly polished but keeps on the right side of the track in all its overwhelming force. At other times it has the gentle trickling of an empty forest, where all you hear is the gentle sounds of the natural world around you. Pure magic and all of that in one long piece of over 32 minutes. Unfortunately, it’ll be the last black metal release, thus wrote Krigeist. His newer soundtracks take on different shapes.

Bròn – White City, Black Circle

Living in an urban environment requires a different soundtrack, wrote Krigeist on Facebook. He explained the sound of ‘Зарђала Круна’ while introducing this new release. The organic sound of the previous releases is vastly more fitting for the verdant realm indeed. The album signifies a radical turn in sound for Bròn. With a groove that is more triphop we enter the realm of tarmac and concrete, with lamp posts illuminating the grey jungle around you. Meandering between the aforementioned, synthwave and maybe a little dungeon synth, the sound is peculiar but fitting.

The titles are in Croation, referring to central themes revolving around that of Bròn (sorrow). It offers songs of those dark, nameless places we dwell in. Whether that’s a city in Croatia, Norway, Scotland or I wager even in New Zealand, there’s a sort of nameless grief there. The mixture of beats and ambient drones conveys that feeling very well. I particularly enjoy the mixture of that with the synths, which is always the sound of the urban environment. Towards the end of the record, the music is lighter, warmer as if the sun has broken through the smoggy haze. We leave the city here to the free part of the world.

Bròn – Ruins

On Ruins we find the same instrumentation, but a more Ulver or even folkish vibe at times with spun out tones and long passages of melancholic music. The music is calm and soothing and does, like the title tells you, remind of the tranquility you find in between forgotten ruins. That is also what the song titles refer to, to various locations of ancient ruins in corners of Europe, places that make you think and imagine. The vocals are gentle as well, almost chanting in a meditative way. The record even includes a folk cover ‘Twa Corbies’ from Scottish lore.

The sound has a clarity to it, everything is wavering and calm like an easy breeze. It’s almost like listening to an acoustic performance with various musicians, all delivering the minimal bits of sounds that make out the complete tapestry.For me, this might be the most beautiful album that Bròn has created this far. The music is so intricate, without ever sounding difficult or overly contrived. It’s a natural expression of the feeling in easy flowing, but still heavy music. After this record, Krigeist announced a hiatus for Bròn. That was definitely not meant to last after this june 2017 release.

Bròn – Where The Leaden Dawn Meets Iron Shores

A trip back to New Zealand was the impulse that Bròn needed. Krigeist was revitalized and inspired to make music again under that banner and three tracks expressing the untapped dark energies that dwell in New Zealand’s wild places. There is definite darkness on this album, which almost faded on ‘Ruins’. A long murmured intro with foreboding synths leads us into this new record. Eerie synths slither out of the speakers, while a creepy, scifi tune is played on the keys in the most bombastic tones.

But then there’s also the guitars and the screams. It would appear that Bròn comes full circle here and finds a sound that truly embraces the atmospheric output that Krigeist is looking for. The melancholy of the synths, combined with the harsh, ruggedness of the guitars. The ragged fury of the vocals, like that furious sea wind biting at you, while ver in motion on the waters. Three tracks tell the story that is both beautiful and grim at the same time. I guess it makes sense what Kant once said on the sublime in art, which really goes for nature. It’s overwhelming force can overwhelm us with awe and wonder in a sense. This is well conveyed in this piece of music by Bròn, which I really enjoy.

Let’s see what the future holds for this explorer in both the geographic and artistic realms.

Barshasketh, Dysangelium and Devouring Star live at Little Devil

Live shows are definitely something I can’t get enough of, but unfortunately, black metal is not the most often done live in these parts. This is probably relative to the fact that I live in the Netherlands, where ‘rare’ has a much different meaning. Anyways, Barshasketh dropped by at the Little Devil and that is definitely not one I’m going to skip.

Pictures by Herman Stehouwer (with kind permission)

Barshasketh is a project of Andrew Campbell, also known as Krigeist. I’m a fan of his work, particularly the project Bròn hugely appealed to me. Campbell originally is from New Zealand but has relocated to Scotland since. He’s been taking Barshasketh on the road now and it’s something I am very excited about. Little Devil is one of my favorite venues for shows like this. I do enjoy the fact that it is simply less crowded there. The new DJ booth does make the space even smaller though.

Opening act for tonight on this Little Devil Black Ritual night is the Finnish group Devouring Star, who are signed to Terratur Possessions. Like many of the bands on that label, their sound is dense, layered and complex. The performance, therefore, feels slightly static, with very little movement on the stage. They make it feel like the air is reverberating with ever so tiny movements and complexities. Their music is a tapestry, rich and thick with slight changes to immerse yourself in. The band did lack the meticulousness that they display on the album in a live setting, but there’s a limit to what three members can do. A great warm-up for the evening. Not too many visitors seem to show up, but the tiny venue feels full and appreciative of the bands. Something any big venue seems to lack these days.

Dysangelium is a different beast, with much more dynamics in their show. The band plays fiercely and seems to create a turbulence in the small venue. The group from Germany released one album three years ago, but by this live standard, a next one is wanted. They tap into a specific, vibrant branch of that occult black metal sound, with a lot of intensity and a lot of shifts in tempo and sound. I particularly liked these guys after the performance of Devouring Star for their more direct and raw approach. Highly enjoyable, these guys from Kiel!

But what I came for was definitely the final act of tonight. Barshasketh has a particular sound of violence to it. There’s a particular intensity to the delivery of Campbell himself, who really seems to drag up his vocals from his toes in a visceral, venomous bursts. Twisting and turning as if in agony he spits defiance at the onlooking crowd. Barshasketh sounds urgent and intense in a way that captivates as if you’re being grabbed by the throat and dragged along to hell. For me the whole center of that force is Campbell who as a frontman appears to be possessed. The band around him functions as part of a funnel around him and the group really gave it their best, making this a memorable night.

This show is over way too soon and I luckily did manage to show my Bròn shirt (ever the fanboy) and pick up some vinyl from the band. Awesome stuff.

Underground Sounds: Barshasketh – Ophidian Henosis

Label: Blut & Eisen Productions/ Darkness Shall Rise Productions
Band: Barshasketh
Origin: New Zealand

By now, the band Barshasketh has relocated from the Lord of the Rings-y New Zealand to the similar, but more rainy Scotland. The man behind the band is Andrew Campbell, more well known under his moniker Krigeist. He’s been active as well in bands like Belliciste and Bròn. It actually seems that Campbell has now relocated to the Czech Republic even, but it’s a bit hard to tell. Maybe Belgrade, based on the info on the Belliciste page? I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter that much either when we get to the music.

The sound of Barshasketh defies the local anyways, even more so on this new endeavour. To create a full band members were found in FallochHaar and Finnish Hautakammio. It allows for an album that will not soon be forgotten. Of that I’m sure. I’d like to point out that there’s some excessively amazing art work in use by Barshasketh, done by Daniel Valencia of Fomeno Design.

There’s a hint of melodic black metal bands like Keep of Kalessin hidden in the music of Barshasketh, thanks to the combination of familiar elements of distortion, tremolo guitar play and feisty blast beats with a thoroughly melodic element and a willingness to create a harrowing type of beauty through sound scapes. This is all woven into the fabric of the album and overridden with the bestial, raw roar of Krigeist himself.

In the music, one often hears that a repetitive static is created. This allows for other elements in the music to paint fantastic realms in the sound, allowing the listener to really sink into it as in an almost meditative state. Even the most furious parts have that calm hidden behind it in the form of melodic lines that gently weave through the ferocity that is Barshasketh. Sometimes the static sound almost feels like doom metal in its slow, foreboding progressions.

It combines the old and the new in the sound, which has excellent production. Interesting fact is that the titles are numbered, which creates the feeling of one piece of art, based in chapters. It works very well to express the long stretch in separate elements. This is an album that will surely appear in some End of Year lists. Great stuff!