Windbruch – No Stars, Only Full Dark (Hypnotic Dirge)Sunday, 16th March 2014
Bordering on the “is it metal or not” fence is Russia’s Windbruch, a one-man musical project. Combining atmospheric black metal, shoegaze, and a sense for the cinematic, No Stars, Only Full Dark is described as a “soundtrack for the heart of winter.” The follow-up to 2009’s Collision of the Worlds, No Stars, Only Full Dark was originally issued independently in 2013 but pressed to CD for the first time early this year by Hypnotic Dirge Records.
Beginning and ending in white noise (which carries on for a bit too long at the end of the disc), No Stars, Only Full Dark is a captivating journey if you are prepared to take it. With sparse vocals, keyboards and guitars that seem to share equal parts leading the music, and a knack for the experimental (that works more often than not), this isn’t an album that one can necessarily listen to each day. Often somber and melancholic in nature, it rarely turns visceral; seemingly more at peace with providing a bleak yet sometimes strangely uplifting mood.
The songs themselves include a number of risk-taking measures that break up the album’s lengthy tracks (three of which clock past the 10-minute mark). There is the uplifting middle section of “No More Entry, No More Exit,” the funeral doom marked by “A City on Fire,” and sampled dialogue from the Russian film Stalker on the track “Only Full Dark.” The song “Neswa-Pawuk” is inspired by James Oliver Curwood’s novel Nomads of the North (as is the cover art) and switches things over to some Pink Floyd-esque feelings and a dreary clean vocal approach. Perhaps the most cinematic and impressive is that of “No Stars<” which repeats a music box-like line throughout the song instead of vocals (though there is one quaint roar to be found).
The repetitive and often hypnotic nature of the music, along with the sometimes questionably “metal” framework will probably alienate this from much of the metal crowd. However, if you are game for some truly avant-garde material that doesn’t shy away from experimentation, No Stars, Only Full Dark is an album worth visiting, even if it’s just as an escape from the more typical, destructive offerings.