The opening to Dutch symphonic metallers Blackbriar’s second studio album is somewhat deceptive in that it starts out with a quiet plucked string arrangement with vocalist Zora Cock’s Ethereal melodies. However it is not long before the full orchestration comes into play and the soaring first track, An Unwelcome Guest takes shape. What follows is an album that truly makes the most of the band’s affinity for musical storytelling.

Far Distant Land, with its layered vocals, melodic whistles and fiddle playing evokes vivid imagery of a nautical voyage. Spirit of Forgetfulness comprises thoughtful melodies and a strong motif that is used throughout the track on both vocals and instruments.

Bloody Footprints in the Snow opens with a driving rhythm overlaid with piano which gives way to an anthemic chorus. The track seamlessly switches between the two styles, each time adding further layers to the composition. The Evergreen and the Weeping Tree is a true showcase of Cock’s vocal talents as melodic piano and solo vocals later gain string accompaniment and harmonies before crescendoing with the full band.

Cicada almost feels like listening to a flowing river as each phrase leads seamlessly into the next. My Soul’s Demise starts out slow with melodic strings, vocals and echoey piano. It eases gently into a slow track that builds up to an epic solo and ending that intertwines earlier phrases and arrangements.

We Make Mist has playful, bright vocals and moves into an epic arrangement before a somewhat abrupt ending. Thumbelina proved to be a much more grandiose affair than I was expecting. Solid riffs and arpeggios give way to stripped down bells and vocals before picking up the pace once more.

Forever and a Day is an introspective track with lilting vocals and a strong arrangement and some notably excellent guitar solo work. Album closer Crimson Faces is a darkly melodic affair that builds towards a satisfying conclusion to the album although in the end, still leaving you wanting more.

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