Artist: Bran Barr
Album Title: Les Chronicles de Naerg
This is Bran Barr's first album. They're a French band, playing pagan/Celtic black metal.
The obvious comparison here is to Cruachan's classic album, "Tuatha na Gael". Like Cruachan, Bran Barr mix traditional Celtic forms with metal. The first thing you'll notice about this album is the sheer range of instrumentation: no less than two kinds of whistle, bagpipes, traditional drums, and of course the usual metal instruments.
It might seem that so many folk instruments would bog down the album, but this doesn't hold true, since the metal parts are great. They vary between fast and more epic pieces, with elements of both black metal and more traditional heavy metal. A variety of vocal styles are used, including a death metal style growl and clean vocals, in addition to a black metal snarl. Sometimes the clean vocals seem a bit weak, but it's a minor flaw that doesn't detract all that much from the album.
The folk sections are equally excellent, quite haunting. They never lose sight of traditional Celtic roots, yet they're also a lot more original than most you'll hear on pagan metal albums. The whistle is especially noteworthy, particularly when used in the background of the metal sections. The folk aspects aren't overly serious, either - the rousing drinking song at the end is a welcome bit of levity.
It shocks me that these guys are still unsigned, because the talent level here is really quite impressive. This album is what Cruachan should have released after "Tuatha Na Gael", and is a must for anyone who enjoys Pagan or Celtic style metal.
Standout Tracks: "The Lamentable Tragedy of Deirdra", "Pride and Malevolence"