Based on their Gaelic name, one might assume that Bréag Naofa (which translates as ‘holy lie’) hail from Ireland. In reality, the band calls Seattle home, and you can hear a lot of that city’s trademark gloom in the two epic tracks that make up their Cearo (also Gaelic, translates as ‘candy’) EP. Described by the band as “a painful journey of loss and betrayal with no resolution,” it’s a pretty intense listen.
I mean, just consider the opening lyric from each song:
“Every day starts with pain.”
“There’s no fucking hope.”
Both songs end at the bottom of a bottle.
Musically, however, there’s a lot more going on than one might expect from just glancing at the lyrics, which had me expecting some creeping, caustic doom in the vein of Primitive Man. Instead, Bréag Naofa utilize a three-guitarist lineup to create expansive, textured soundscapes tat draw from atmospheric sludge, post-metal, and even the occasional bit of depressive black metal.
Of the two songs, the 10+ minute “The Morning Of” covers the most stylistic ground. A slow builder of track, it opens with several minutes of moody clean guitar before the rest of the instruments join the track, culminating with a nifty little two-hand tapped melody line at about the 4-minute mark. The whole thing has a very romantic feel about it – almost like it could have been the score for a morose lovers’ tryst on a windswept cliff in an Alain Resnais film. Once the vocals come in, however, it’s pretty much pure post-metal aggression for the rest of the song’s length, and it ends with a slippery little riff and some creative drumming that makes the time signature sound a bit more fluid than it probably really is.
By contrast, “Phosphorous” begins in an almost disappointingly straightforward fashion with its driving, hardcore tempo and relatively simple riff. It does open up a bit in its second half, though, when it slows down considerably and the guitars are given more room to play off each other. The crescendo ending is a pretty nice touch, and the way the track kind of falls apart definitely fits with the record’s overall theme.
All told, Bréag Naofa manage to make music that’s challenging and without being inaccessible, and temper the bleakness of the lyrics with music that draws from a wider emotional palette. If you’re into post-metal or sludge, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Cearo is currently available digitally from Bréag Naofa’s Bandcamp page. It will be available on vinyl directly from the band on September 1.