Echtra – BardO (Review)

Echtra - BardOEchtra is a one man black metal/drone band, and this is his fourth album.

All Echtra songs clock in at 23 minutes, and BardO contains two of them. Across these sprawling tracks depth and texture is achieved through a variety of instruments that are used in conjunction with each other to create a tapestry of atmospheric darkness and light.

Blending the acoustic and the electric, esoteric black metal and spectral droning doom collide to produce music that is both and neither at the same time. The blackened ambience of the compositions is striking in the sense that it immediately gives the impression of consisting of layers upon layers of feeling and depth, despite how sparse the music may actually be on occasion. Sometimes music can say a lot with very little; BardO has moments like this, and these are mixed with other times when it’s simply saying a lot with a lot, and I honestly don’t know which I prefer. Of course, it’s a false dichotomy, as it all blurs into one, and I like what BardO has to say regardless of how it is saying it.

Expansive and beautifully crafted, these two songs are steeped in nuanced intricacies as well as filled with broader themes and feelings. BardO comes across as a creation crafted by a master artist, coming alive from parts of disparate entities to flow together into something that’s half-thoughtfully considered, and half experimentally wild.

Apparently BardO originally came into being ten years ago during a live ritual which was captured and is being released on an accompanying DVD to this album. The visual recording adds yet another dimension to music that’s already full of raw, visceral, and atmospheric appeal. It truly allows the listener to get caught up in a personal-feeling intimacy that most live shows could never approach. Draped in darkness and candlelight, it enhances the music endlessly. I wish I had been lucky enough to witness it in person.

Of course, the music on this album more than stands up on its own two feet, but the added visual dimension is a definite plus.

If you’re a fan of the darker atmospheric realms that exist in extreme metal’s underground, then this is an essential listen.

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