Tuesday 19 December 2017

Bréag Naofa - Interview + II Review

After writing about Bréag Naofa's EP "Cearo" in July and knowing that the release of their new LP "II" wasn't too far around corner, I sent the Seattle six-piece an e-mail interview to ask them about both releases and what it's been like working with Cory from Halo Of Flies on the new album. amongst other things. Their message of free-thinking via the denouncement of religion is something that resonates with me and I'm honoured that they took the time to answer my questions. You can read them below.

I’d like to start the interview by stepping back in time slightly to the writing of the "Cearo" EP. Without going into too much detail (I appreciate it may be sensitive); what was Bréag Naofa as a band going through at the time when you were writing the songs?

BN - So this was a mixture of a few negative emotions. There was some loss that I had in the family that was pretty brutal to deal with. Death is never easy, but when you see people slowly waste away, it’s almost more damaging. At the same time another member of the band had been dealing with a relationship that was falling apart and some major betrayal, very blatant and outright even, so the depressed feeling as well as the anger came out in both of those songs in the mood of the writing of the actual songs, and of course the lyrics. 

"II" was released in August. Like the "Cearo" EP, it’s very heavy and emotive. Did you approach it in the same way when writing and what involvement did each member of the band have? 

BN - "II" was specifically us getting back to the progression of the band and trying to explore a new sound with different tuning, more repetition, and just all around wanted it to be heavier. "Cearo" was a slight departure from that, but we honestly would like each of our albums to be slightly different from another, so you can get something out of each one of them that isn’t something you’d find on the previous album. 

The cover art fits the album and it’s sound really well. How do you think it relates to the music itself? 

BN - For "II" I asked the artist that we worked with to portray some of the old methods of torture that those who considered themselves holy would enact on others, thus the burning at the stake. With "Cearo", the wandering person going out on their own through thick woods, I feel, was one of the best representations visually that we could have for that record. 

What has the reaction to the album been like amongst Bréag Naofa’s fans? 

BN - I wasn’t sure how people would react to "Cearo", because it was much different, but we’ve had a huge positive response for it. The album itself with one side being etched with our logo has also been popular for collectors. Everyone seems to like "II" because it’s just a continuation of all the older albums as far as heavy goes, I just feel we got much heavier on this album. 

You worked with Cory & Halo Of Flies on the physical release. What was it like working with him, given the bands he’s worked with in the past and the experience/knowledge he has? 

BN - Cory is awesome! He basically puts out what he is into, and we’ve been lucky enough to have a few releases with him. Our last release with him was the Monuments Collapse split. That was a very successful album and we owe a lot to Halo for helping get us out there. Halo is one of the best indie record labels out there and I fully back his hard work and what he’s doing 

With 2018 on the horizon, do you have any touring/gig plans? Will you be venturing outside of the States at all? 

BN - We have talked about a west coast tour in the U.S. Unfortunately we all have dad jobs at the moment, and can’t tour as much as we could when we were in our 20s, so touring is sparse. If we got asked to play a badass fest in Europe I think I’d spring some cash and go in the hole moneywise to get to play to an audience out of the states. 

I’ve been asking different bands this question in recent interviews; What advice would you give to new bands based on your experiences thus far and also, what advice would you give to 

BN - Yourselves if you were to go back in time? You have to be 100% about keeping this personal and all for you. The people that like you will come along with that. Don’t ever get too bogged down in trying to get to this level or some next level. Just play what you like and don’t let any bad experiences get you down about being a band. Some older bands I was in, we toured with boxes of ramen in the car and heated it up at coffee stations in gas stations. I lived pretty much broke through most of the early 2000s and we somehow survived touring. As a young musician it was all about the pipedream of being a big name. While I had some hardcore bands that were pretty successful, none of that mattered in the end. Writing good music, being around some of your best friends, and enjoying what you’ve put out and will be able to go back and listen to and either laugh or say “holy shit, that was still such a good song” is all that matters to me. 


2. X
3. XI
4. XII
5. Diderot

Heaviness, anger and emotion are all healthy and cathartic things when it comes to metal music. Probably more so for the bands that write it than for the fans who consume it. Bréag Naofa knows this and that’s why “II” sounds the way it does. Opening song XIII is metallic, bold and incredibly dense in its delivery. At times it’s slow and at other times its pace picks up with elements of hardcore and post-metal taking the lead. X only increases the density and the intensity further, as the harsh vocals head lower in tonality and the instrumentation the surrounds them becomes more vivid. The extended instrumental sections both paint images and stir feelings inside. This is music that allows you to interpret it in your own way, without forcing certain things upon you, which is a great skill for a band to have. 

The metallic textures flow on into XI and while they’re only a small facet of BN’s sound, they present a menacing atmosphere alongside the rest of the music. There’s something avant-garde about the band on this song as well, especially in the tuning and the melodies. The vocals are both pissed off yet also restrained and the introspective passages are glorious and clear, thanks to the engineering and mixing of Derek Moree. The further you get into “II” the more intense and enjoyable it becomes. The fact that BN don’t rush their songs and are more expansive in their song-writing makes their post-metal more natural. This point is exhibited perfectly on XII.

“II” ends with Diderot, which begins with repeating guitar riffs, subtle ambience and a French spoken word sample. The volume builds with the introduction of the drums before the instrumental section of BN blasts back into life for a shorter final piece. It feels like closure for the band and those final spoken lines say all you need to know. Bréag Naofa manages more in these five songs than a lot of bigger bands manage with double that, but then it’s not about other bands. It’s about the music and what both they and you take out of it. Stirring, emotive and brilliantly delivered. 

You can stream and buy "II" digitally and on vinyl below:-

You can also purchase copies from Halo of Flies here - http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/releases/current-releases/

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