Sunday, 24 March 2013

Bretus - In Onirica (album review)

Cover artwork by Sgraffito / Elaine Ní Cuana (IRELAND)
We all had that one special tweenie summer where possibilities seemed limitless and ignorance of the future left us blissful.  Mine was full of going to places where I shouldn't have been.  One place in particular was a vacant two-story house down and across the street from my friend.  Shrouded by tall trees and bordered by an easily breachable chain-link fence, the house held no particular interest aside from its fortification which lent it a forbidden aspect.  So of course, we set forth to investigate.

After making sure no one saw us we opened the back door and entered a dark and topsy-turvey world.  This all has to do with Bretus, believe me.  The house was full of ... stuff.  And when I say full I mean nearly stuffed to the brim.  The bizarre thing about it was that the whole of the upper floor had been taken down and was lying dismantled amidst the detritus.  The walls were still up but no floor.  The house was a shell and its interior stuffed with ... stuff.  Ladders, half-used paint cans, rusted appliances and work tools, stacks of newspapers (it appeared the newspaper boy had gotten there before us), soiled mattresses, drywall, two by fours, you name it.  What really stuck out to me were the ladders.  There was something incredibly eerie about a house with no upper floor and ladders climbing to nowhere.  Or descending from nowhere.  Either way, whatever the hell it was that my friend and I were expecting to find this wasn't it.  This was a thoroughly dead house, gutted and stuffed like an Egyptian mummy.  A corpse home full of trash for maggots and possessed by some demonic junkyard spirit.

I guess, looking back, I was looking for stacks of old comic books or a box of rare and valuable hockey cards, thoughtlessly discarded as I knew sometimes happened.  Something to fire my pre-teen imagination.  What we found was a vision of the Dyatlov Pass incident in the form of a house, mysteriously pulverized on the inside but otherwise intact.

***

What if we had climbed those ladders?  Is it possible we'd have entered a portal to a harsh and brutal world of flying boulders and swinging axes in a swirling purple void?  Would we have caught a glimpse of the force which pulverized the house and presumably destroyed not only the bodies but the spirits of it's inhabitants?  Doubt not for Bretus have tapped into this force and recorded it.

Bretus play high energy, high voltage doom.  They lead the listener along by the nose and snap necks with their turn on a dime song structures and liquify brains with devastating force.  There's an anger in the guitar tone, a deep growl of warning of a hair trigger than might snap at a moment's notice.

***

It should be emphasized that Bretus play doom metal.  When the riffs are slowed down they cause whiplash, when there's speed involved the band snaps necks.  Their song structures are top notch, usually starting with a terrifically hypnotic riff, then changing direction playing at half or double speed for the bridge, then changing back just as suddenly.  The most striking example of this is in the superlative "The Dawn Bleeds".  I've tried to replicate that bumpy yet exciting structural ride in this write-up to -ahem- mixed results, but Bretus are expert at it.  Such structures create the impression that this band write many songs, then boil them down on record, fitting the pieces together like a jigsaw, just like Black Sabbath used to do it.  The band is Italian so of course there's an element of horror doom in there as well with ghostly swells of organ at just the right moments.  "The Black Sleep", the instrumental track that closes the album, takes this part of the band's sound and runs with it.  This is where they put on their Goblin shoes and go skull kicking.

If there's one single impression I expect listeners to walk away with after listening to this album it's the kick ass heavy riffs, that fall into place one after another like dominoes.  The next thing the listener will remember are the energetic vocals and song structures that will have you turning your head and doing double takes.

***

What is it about a band and their music that sets off certain and particular memories or images in the mind?  There's an oaken, organic quality to 'In Onirica' that reminds me of the old tall tree-lined gravel road that led to the strange hollow house.  The structures certainly evoke the spirit of the unexpected and an overall feeling of old horror flicks from some golden summer.  However they do it, Bretus takes me to some strange places.  Real places, or places that were real but are now long gone.  Bretus gives those places life, makes them real once again by piercing the veil of dimension by way of sheer concussive force.

Highlights include: "The Dawn Bleeds" and "Down in the Hollow"

Rating: 4.5/5



Tracklist:
1). Insomnia (7:50)
2). The Dawn Bleeds (5:38)
3). Down In The Hollow (5:28)
4). Leaves of Grass (2:04)
5). Escape (5:29)
6). Forest of Pain (4:46)
7). The Black Sleep (7:54)
Total Run Time: 39:08

Ghenes - Low Guitars/Bass
Zagarus - Vocals
Faunus - Guitars
Striges - Drums

From: Catanzaro, Italy

Genre: Traditional Doom Metal, Horror Doom, Prog

Reminds me of: Death SS, Gates of Slumber, Las Cruces, Mage, Pale Divine, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Sideburn, Terra Firma

Release Date: May 9, 2012

Suggested listening activity for fellow non-stoners: Climbing ladders to furiously weird dimensions.

Better Reviews:
Doommantia
Temple of Perdition
Perkele in Italian
Sludgelord

Bretus official website
Bretus on facebook

GET IT HERE

+OUT SOON ON VINYL FROM BLOODROCK RECORDS

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