Brymir – Breathe Fire To The Sun
Breathe Fire To The Sun
It’s a Catch-22, getting your break at musical stardom by imitating a popular band, and then proceeding to write in a pretty similar style. For Brymir, covering the mighty Ensiferum got them their big break, but they are likely doomed to forever end up being closely compared to that band as well. In my opinion, this isn’t such a bad thing, because I always feel that the world could use a few more uptempo, Scandinavian folk-inspired, highly melodic groups, but I’m sure that somewhere out there exists a group of devoted Brymir fans that despise the constant comparison (however accurate) to the group’s sword-bearing ancestors (har har). Well I aim to please both groups with this review, because while Brymir’s style is unquestionably highly influenced by Ensiferum, Turisas, Wintersun, etc., they’ve set forth with a host of strengths all their own on 2011’s debut Breathe Fire To The Sun.
Every great influence has been handed down: memorable guitar leads, some lovely strings that float gracefully in the background, and bright synth horns to accompany the warriors into battle. Heck, Viktor Gullichsen even SOUNDS a fair amount like old Petri Lindroos. However, it is here that Brymir takes the first step in distinguishing itself. The group chant/vocals on Breathe Fire To The Sun are perhaps less “natural” or “Viking” sounding, but they are far more polished, clean, and professional, and I enjoy them immensely, probably even more than that-other-band-that-I-keep-bringing-up.
Another, almost immediate difference (*sigh*, I just can’t get away from this, can I?) is the tempo. Rare but stupendously effective are the moments (like “Burning Within”, especially in the intro) where Brymir kicks things into overdrive with relentless double-bass and tremolo picking. The remainder of the time, a moderately quick pace is the norm. In the diverse and explosive “Withering Past”, the band switches up tempos and sounds faster than a middle-class American woman with expendable income trying on shoes in the clearance section of the shoe department. This song features a slow, whistful intro (a reflection on the past?) before bursting into dark and malignant riffing (with some truly excellent symphonic support), after which it bounds all over the place where tempo and harmonic changes are concerned.
While most of the aggression and melody is born by the guitar and rhythm section, the quality of supporting musical elements is what truly makes this album stand out. The lushness of the brass and strings, the flash of keys, and the addition of orchestral hits takes to the harshness of Brymir’s guitar and vocal tracks like a fine chocolate and wine pairing. I feel that neither would be as enjoyable without the other. I also believe that, isolated from these other elements, Brymir’s guitar and vocal work would likely not retain the same memorability and richness that comes through clearly on Breathe Fire To The Sun. While this isn’t the catchiest melo-death album that you’re ever going to hear, it is quite an interesting and varied listen.
If Ensiferum are sword bearers, then I would consider Brymir to be the shamans of the Viking melodic death scene. The slower, more introspective and milder approach of this album indeed makes for a novel listen that fans of Ensiferum, Turisas, Skyfire, and the like will surely enjoy. If they advance their songwriting skills from here, they have nowhere to go but up!
Dan’s Rating: 3.75 out of 5