Jul 7, 2012
Bretus – In Onirica ...
One of the key elements to the albums freshness is the organic, live sound that this release captures and really this is the kind of production that is perfect for any band within the doom metal realm. The guitar sound is dirty, swampy, filthy but with just enough clarity so you can hear every detail within the playing. The sabbathian tones might be over-used these days but when they are recorded like this, they are still ear-candy for the traditional doom fan. The songs on 'In Onirica' are crushing without being overly heavy in the context of modern doom metal and that is where the 70's heavy rock influence comes in. Taking major cues from Black Sabbath the band approach their songs in a similar way.....big on riffs without ever sacrificing melody. Keep in mind now that this full length album has taken the band three years to get out there so you would hope they have done some fine-tuning in that time and I am glad to hear vast improvements in all areas of the band. As songwriters, they have always been great so they didn't need to do much there but the level of musicianship has had a big leap forward. The guitar playing reeks of pure class on this album and the vocals display a very real sense of maturity that didn't exist until now.
That maturity leaps out of the speakers within seconds of the opening track 'Insomnia.' The riffs are gargantuan and very infectious but it is the classy songwriting and arrangement that makes lengthy tracks like this one a sheer joy to crank up loud and enjoy. On the surface 'Insomnia' is stoner-doom with major 70's rock influences but it is the little twists that are added to this track that makes it such a killer tune. There are energetic sludge-metal sections that are intense and powerful and this is a recurring formula the band uses to perfection for most of the album. 'Insomnia' is a great opening track but in many respects, the album only gets better from this point onwards. 'The Dawn Bleeds' and 'Down in the Hollow' both have twists and turns to keep you guessing and the rhythmic intensity in these tracks is captivating. Also if you can stop your head from nodding with these two tracks, you must be heavily sedated or in a coma. Like many bands in the world these days, their concepts are based around horror and Lovecraft inspired themes but it is never too obvious with Bretus so you never get the feeling you have heard it all before.
'Down in the Hollow' is the albums first big highlight even though every song is a winner on 'In Onirica' but tunes like this one are simply mesmerizing examples of concise songwriting and exciting musicianship. That track is followed by the short interlude 'Leaves of Grass' which is a eclectic guitar instrumental that showcases their diversity and proves that Bretus are not a one-trick pony. That is followed by big highlight number two, a tune called 'Escape.' This monster of a track has infectious riffing and absolutely captivating vocals and the chorus to this track is easily the most catchy moment that 'In Onirica' has to offer. The vocals come with a heavy Italian accent but that just seems to add to the warmth of their sound. The second half to 'Escape' is pure doom metal to the extreme, classic, classy with an abundance of character and personality. 'Forest of Pain' follows with deadly riffing and an engaging atmospherics. Again the energy level is surprisingly high for what is basically a stoner-doom band and it is really the mid-tempo sections this album has that ultimately won me over, they are just so damn infectious.
The album ends with another instrumental except a long one this time. Titled 'The Black Sleep' it is a perfect way to bring this album to a close. The band goes all out on this track, blending all kinds of genres, tempo-changes, and even keyboards into one jaw-dropping track. So captivating is the musicianship on this track that it is only fitting that it is an instrumental piece.....vocals are just not needed. Overall, this album is very diverse for the style that it is. There are varying tempos, acoustic sections, keyboard parts, dark ominous passages and cleaner lighter sections. They seem to be able to go from total doom to sludge to stoner rock to psychedelic on a dime and the variations are seamless. The production is just perfect, the playing is great and the album is engaging from start to finish. The only problem is it is short (under 40 minutes) and it just leaves you wanting a whole lot more. This is easily one of the highlights of 2012 thus far and needless to say, 'In Onirica' has exceeded all my expectations....9.5/10.
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