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On disc: Bran Barr

Sidh - Mike Thompson - 9 stars


(Trollzorn - 2010)

When I first put this album on I was struck by the similarity to Heol Telwen's An Deiz Ruz. Was this the same band, renamed? After checking up it appears that Bran Barr have actually been around longer than Heol Telwen, but they do share two members so at least I wasn't completely wrong!
Bran Barr are a Celtic folk metal band from France who also have some black metal influences in their songs. Make no mistake this band do not play the more Gothenburg-influenced Celtic folk of Eluveitie or the melodic rock stylings of Tuatha de Danann. Anyone familiar with bands such as the aforementioned Heol Telwen or Aes Dana will know exactly what to expect from this band.
Sidh is actually the band's second album, the first being 2000's Les Chroniques des Naerg. With ten years between albums you'd expect it to be high quality stuff. Bran Barr do not disappoint.
Bran Barr utilises a variety of metal and traditional instruments, including all the pipes and whistles you'd expect from a Celtic folk band but the album never seems cumbersome in the way that, say, a Slartibartfass album does. The vocals on this album are great too, ranging from growls to clean vocals and even some in a style that reminds me of the German bands XIV Dark Centuries and Menhir. All the instruments fit perfectly and really add to the atmosphere the band are trying to evoke. Despite this the album is still undeniably metal. It never strays into that more-folk-than-metal territory which I find very uncomfortable – I'm a metal fan after all, not a folk fan!
This is quality folk metal of the highest order. Its heavy enough to headbang too but catchy enough to appeal to a wide audience. Now that this band are signed to Trollzorn I hope that they become more well-known. Certainly they are talented enough. I just hope that the next album doesn't take another ten years!

9 stars

Mike Thompson


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