Bloodbark - Bonebranches - (9.5/10)
Published on July 2, 2018
Though rumors of the band’s origins persist (some claim Russia, others Belarus), Bloodbark’s roots and membership remain a mystery. The band’s debut album, Bonebranches, was released in early 2018, first independently on the band’s Bandcamp page, and a short time later on CD through Northern Silence Productions. Bloodbark’s music fits in nicely with a majority of the Northern Silence roster, as their three track, forty minute opus is nestled firmly within the confines of majesty and ethereal atmospheric black metal.
Lush atmospherics, clean piano notes, superbly crafted, melancholic tremolo riffing, and viciously emotive growls are the order of the day, and while that may sound like any number of atmospheric black metal bands these days, Bloodbark has created one of the most immersive and ear catching albums the genre has seen in quite some time. The entire offering is serene and introspective, yet there is enough fire in the band’s veins to not wither into a parody of itself via shoegazing and post-metal schlock. Perhaps that what makes Bonebranches so enthralling; the band’s use of melody and melancholy without resorting to forced atmospherics. Sure, the piano notes, orchestrations, and strings throughout deliver a melodic footnote, the focus remains on distorted guitar passages, be it maelstroms of tremolo picking or trance-inducing, repetitive notes flitting across the soundscape.
The length of the three tracks allows Bloodbark to wax and wane between serene and chaotic, with the atmospheric tendrils of orchestration bridging the two sounds into a cohesive delivery. Differing tempos and approaches occur within each track, offering a highly diverse album despite the cathartic repetition often touched upon. With passages of melancholic black metal and calm fortitude, Bonebranches delivers everything one might want from this style.
Much like the rugged wilderness depicted on the album’s cover, Bonebranches is beautiful and awe inspiring, but there is a darkness and a danger that one must accept to fully appreciate it. From the jagged peaks and avalanches to the icy and fathomless depths of the black water, this danger entices and invites us into to bask in a sense of wonder. Don’t rest on your laurels, though, as one wrong step could upset the entire balance of nature. Bloodbark have found a way to put this sense of dangerous, rustic beauty to tape: all the listener has to do is let the icy waters wash over you.