Blackbriar
A Dark Euphony


4.2
excellent

Review

by Trey STAFF
September 27th, 2023 | 10 replies


Release Date: 09/29/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A Dark Euphony is the full realization of Blackbriar’s sound; consistently hitting a level earlier albums could only hint at.

In the world of Symphonic metal, Blackbriar has always been a unique outlier. Rather than engage in the folky, whimsical, and melodramatic topics of a lot of their contemporaries, Blackbriar always carried a prominent gothic influence and a predilection for the macabre. This focus was also fused into their music, preferring morbid atmospheres over epic bombast. They also featured one of the genre’s most distinctive vocalists in Zora Cock. Zora’s voice was dynamic and piercing, delivering beautiful melodies one moment, while filling the listener with dread the next. This unique combination led to more than a few undeniable gems (usually the songs with videos), but there were also just as many songs that were simply good. The problem has always been the band’s excessive reliance on Zora’s voice, with individual musical performances lacking flair or identity. A Dark Euphony doesn’t suffer from that problem, taking their theatrical gothic metal foundation and integrating it with a classic Within Temptation-style symphonic bombast that highlights the entire band while giving Zora much more to work with.

The enhanced dynamics and musicianship are apparent throughout the album. From the shifting tempos of “An Unwelcome Guest” to the modern Amorphis folk-leanings of “Far Distant Lands” to the crushing closing on “Bloody Footprints in the Snow”, there are plenty of examples of the band enhancing the songs and not just supporting Zora’s vocals. This enriched musical accompaniment goes a long way towards giving each song its own feel and identity while also lending an air of unpredictability and momentum. Of course, this huge new sound-palette has diminished some of the unique elements that always made Blackbriar feel quirky and warped, but it is a trade worth making. While I have always enjoyed previous Blackbriar releases, the songs were often a little too predictable and minimalist for my tastes, leading me to revisit my favorites while ignoring everything else. A Dark Euphony’s huge dynamics, symphonic bombast, stronger individual performances, and catchier songwriting coupled with the best of Blackbriar’s previous releases ensures this album is captivating from start to finish.

Of course, no matter how much the band steps up, the star of the show will always be Zora. Her vocal style integrates the vocal acrobatics of Leprous’ Einar Solberg, the delicate power of Within Temptation’s Sharon Den Adel, and the goth/folk poignant story-telling that is entirely her own. It’s this significant talent that allows her to deliver the huge hooks of “Cicada”, the vocal gymnastics of “Bloody Footprints in the Snow”, and the delicacy of “The Evergreen and Weeping Tree” with equal levels of conviction and flair. Personally, my favorite tracks are the ones that do the best job of mixing all the elements. Of course, “Cicada” has been stuck in my head since the day the video was released and is easily one of the most emotive and catchy songs in the band’s discography. I also love the huge melancholic weight of “Bloody Footprints in the Snow”, the Aegis-era Theatre of Tragedy meets The Silent Force-era Within Temptation feel of “Spirit of Forgetfulness”, and my personal favorite “We Make Mist” which is the culmination of everything that makes Blackbriar compelling.

Throughout A Dark Euphony, there is an abundance of new elements married to the macabre gothic metal Blackbriar have always been known for. Most significantly, the band has stepped up their game exponentially, delivering a wealth of guitar harmonies, melancholic keyboard melodies, huge crescendos, eerie goth interludes, and epic symphonic moments. These new elements provide a life and energy that previous releases just couldn’t offer, and they go a long way towards allowing A Dark Euphony to maintain its momentum while providing Zora much more to work with – and she was up to the challenge. It’s no stretch to suggest that Zora delivers a career-defining performance throughout this album. From huge hooky choruses to spine-tingling vocal trills and acrobatic vocal runs, she delivers it all with grace. It’s not often a band makes this huge of an advancement between albums, but that is what Blackbriar have accomplished. A Dark Euphony is the full realization of Blackbriar’s sound; consistently hitting a level earlier albums could only hint at.



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user ratings (14)
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
September 27th 2023


20198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4 | Sound Off

Some of my favorite songs haven't been released yet, so for now:



Cicada: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKYTrDM2mpw

Spirit of Forgetfulness:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8lAGpklYjw

My Soul's Demise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvPS2Cf2VNw

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
September 29th 2023


31782 Comments


Oh shit so this is good? Nice, I'll add it to the list.

Surprised also that pizza is not here yet.

Willie
Moderator
September 29th 2023


20198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4 | Sound Off

Yeah, it's abnormally quiet here... even for a lesser known band.



Anyway, now that the album is released I can post links to my two favorite songs:



We Make Mist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5Gz9W7OchE

Bloody Footprints in the Snow" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k07YuRz3W2c

mkmusic1995
Contributing Reviewer
October 2nd 2023


1552 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is very solid. Had a really nice time with this!

Willie
Moderator
October 3rd 2023


20198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4 | Sound Off

Nice. I think people into this style of music would really like it, but it's kind of flying under the radar.

Pikazilla
October 3rd 2023


28930 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a fun listen in tandem with a nice rpg sesh



The only thing holding this back for me is the homogeneity



But the vocals are very good

Willie
Moderator
October 3rd 2023


20198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4 | Sound Off

Musically these guys have always needed to diversify, but this is easily the most diverse release they've done, IMO. Of course, Zora's voice still does most the heavy lifting here.

jc3494
October 5th 2023


31 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"FOR ALL YOU KNOW I COULD BE A TREEKSTER!"

Willie
Moderator
December 25th 2023


20198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4 | Sound Off

Clearly Symphonic Metal isn’t what it once was, but it still has a fairly large fan base in part due to bands such as Nightwish and Epica, and the reaction scene. There’s also the up-and-coming artists such as Ad Infinitum that seem to making waves within the genre. So, why did A Dark Euphony fly so far under the radar? I honestly don’t know. Zora certainly has the vocal chops to drive fans of the genre crazy, and with record label support (finally) they have a great production and better symphonic elements. I just don’t know…

AgentMadhatt
December 26th 2023


12 Comments


I have an odd criticism ( which isn't really a criticism) The high points of this album are SOOOOOO good that it makes some of the other tracks feel a little weaker by comparison. But overall still a solid 4 or 4.5 outta 5 for me. Fav Tracks: My Soul's Demise, Far Distant Land, Forever and A Day and The Evergreen and Weeping Tree.
Least Favorite: Crimson Faces( this maybe because of it's placement in the tracklist, I felt Forever and A Day packed a big emotional punch that would be perfect for a closing track) Still great album tho. Def top 10 material for me



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