It's with great joy that I get to write this review. I started drafting this review in May and have been waiting to unveil it for you guys to enjoy. Cara Neir have long been favorites here at Black Metal & Brews, so having the opportunity to share this album with my readers after a bit of a wait is pretty exciting. In every way possible, this album is an expansion of their previous works. The most notable changes are more growth than an alteration of formula. This material feels bigger and more punishing than anything I've heard from Cara Neir before, with average song lengths continuing to increase and some of the heaviest riffs and vocals they've unleashed to date, but all of these descriptors are essentially meaningless to the uninitiated, so let's get a bit more serious here.
The first thing that needs to be touched on here is Cara Neir's genre, or perhaps the lack thereof. Citing bands as dissimilar as Ulver, Neurosis, and Ceremony is typically a surefire way to have a cluttered nightmare of an album on your hands. Instead, Cara Neir have always been able to send their songs out to the universe with a relentlessly focused vision. Listening to a Cara Neir song is like a musical game of Twister, with one hand on grindcore, another on black metal, and another somehow on the better elements of post-rock, all without lowering itself to terms like "blackgaze" or anything with the phrase "post-" in it. Knowing Cara Neir is a shapeshifting beast doesn't really help a listener know what to expect, but it does allow one to enter with an open mind. Multi-instrumentalist mastermind Garry Brents might be the single musician most frequently featured here on BM&B due to his role in mastering albums by so many other bands I love, so it's really no surprise that the production on this album lends a crushing intensity and edge to the music. The guitars dash around vocalist Chris Francis' straight-up demonic shouts, which have only grown hoarser and more painfully human with each release. To say that this album is a head first assault would be wrong though, as the band masterfully alter pace, shift gears, and pretty much manipulate sound and feeling in any way necessary to craft the most painstaking and tragic sounding songs possible. Longing, loss, and the urgency of our finite lives all come to mind, although I have not yet seen lyrics for these songs. Still, there's a pained beauty to everything here and the song names only add to the atmosphere. There are surprises aplenty throughout the album, but I'd rather encourage you to check it out for yourself than ruin the fun. With a year full of black metal inspired hybrids already featured on this blog, Cara Neir has just released an album that keeps them clearly at the head of the pack.
The album is available in two separate bundled packages from Broken Limbs Recordings (either with a shirt, or Cara Neir's split cassette with crusty madmen Ramlord) or simply by itself from either BLR or Halo of Flies. One hundred copies will be pressed on smoky green vinyl and four hundred will be pressed on traditional black vinyl. Pre-orders are already selling quickly and this album will ship out on October 31st. Order yours now, because I don't think these will last long enough to purchase after the shipping date. Listen to the preview below and then hop on this one.