Windbruch - _No Stars, Only Full Dark_
(Hypnotic Dirge Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (6.5 out of 10)
Thanks to technology, a single person can become a band of musicians; one instrument, human or musical, can become an orchestra, especially if you're an aspiring musician residing in the remotest regions of the planet. Like Siberia, for instance.

Windbruch is a Russian one-man band hailing from the coldest, most desolate parts of Russia, namely Siberia, but the blessed technology has enabled the artist to produce a full album (his second, if anybody cares) that fits the intellectually-inclined musical vision of its label, the prolific Canadian Hypnotic Dirge Records.

Musically, _No Stars, Only Full Dark_ centers around gentle and highly contemplative soundscapes that can be either traditionally structured or abstract, harnessing electronica, sampled motifs and some spoken passages, while the metallic essence roams between shoegaze rock and synthpop, to standard, by-the-book black 'metal' that's mostly benign and pedestrian, but owning a dreamy, hazy character that matches the whole album's etiquette.

_No Stars, Only Full Dark_ pays its dues to the likes of Tiamat's _Wildhoney_ and even more-so to _A Deeper Kind of Slumber_, in that it uses the same formula of highly melodic, simple and linear arrangements and uninspired, steady-state, slow-to-mid-paced tempos playing over and over again the same euphonious riffs. It does not sound as organic as the aforementioned however, because of the objective limitation in manpower forcing the musician behind Windbruch to fill the gap by using synthetic sounds and instruments in addition to a warm, fuzzy and captivating guitar sound.

_No Stars, Only Full Dark_ is somewhat interesting because it is purely ear-friendly, and as such raises no obstacles or challenging factors in front of the listener, just those highly relate-able, sweet lullabies of mild melancholy, enabling an immediate assimilation and pleasure for the habitual listener. So if you're into the sole enjoyment, this album will cater just that for you, without making you break your head and without the need of multiple listening sessions in order to 'get' or 'understand' the music. On _No Stars, Only Full Dark_, what you hear is what you get.

As was the case with Windbruch's label mates Eptimia, this album is more of an excursion into the shoegaze realm and less of an all-out black metal album; some parts are totally Alcest or Klimt 1918-inspired, and even though the guitar owns a metallic edge, in the end what qualifies the album as being associated mildly with the black metal aesthetics are the vocals, which are, in essence, kept to a necessary minimum; and even those are more of a hybrid belonging to the dark metal school rather than to the pure, distinctive black metal screeches.

The alleged cold atmosphere described by the label (or the album's title, for that matter) can be misleading; to these very ears, the music on the disc sounds for the most part quite the opposite: sun-baked and life-affirming, and the rather jolly keyboard-generated tunes don't help either. It's all very basic and formulaic, yet a formula that works every time, because it establishes a dialogue with the most basic, common human needs and desires -- and in the end it all boils down to the pursuit of happiness and nirvana. Those aspirations are sonically overflowing from the album's parameters and keep on flowing copiously until the end. Colder and bleaker albums have been recorded, and you can take that to the bank.

The best moments on the album are the ones that flirt with funeral doom and death metal, and even though those are few and far between, they create a massive, dark atmosphere for a short while, reminiscent of Raventale's best slow moments. Not only that, but the mellower parts, where a complete tranquil sonic dusk descends upon the listener, are also not bad at all.

Distortion-free, darkwave / synthpop compositions adorn the better part of the recording, creating a highly contemplative experience and sublime bliss. When those are followed by long Russian spoken verses and explode into a bright and polychromatic emotional barrage of keyboards, guitars and a basic rock rhythm, the band is at its peak, showcasing the true art of emotion-inducing, emotion-generating and emotion-crushing music; a heightened sense of melody that has been fused with apt songwriting that is simple yet effective.

You wouldn't believe how efficient and potent the simplicity displayed on _No Stars, Only Full Dark_ is. It's not the most original album out there, nor the darkest or the most complex, to say the very least. However, Windbruch does own what it takes in order to tickle any music lover's fancy, creating a personal, intimate, gentle and thoughtful album (but never bombastic, despite the potential, nor sentimentally saccharine-sweet) with the potential of making every single human being out there tick with religious appreciation.

Contact: http://hypnoticdirgerecords.bandcamp.com/

(article published 6/5/2014)


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