Nigredo is the debut album from Adelaide-based sextet Bronze Chariot. The release also represents the latest of a slew of output from the ever-more-intriguing and diverse South Australian record label Capitalgames Records, who in recent past have featured albums from Coerce, Night Hag and God God Dammit Dammit.
We drop into Nigredo with a beautifully hushed introduction piece played on a lap steel. After this brief mood-setter we move straight into the title track; a driving, hypnotic dark folk/country piece which provides the perfect bedrock for vocalist Benjamin Cooper to bellow out his tale with a characteristic weathered, throaty voice.
From there we fall into Cant Win Em All - which holds a more sedate, melancholy tone, while the fourth Down at the Bar see the group move a little closer to a 'classic' country pub drinking song.
It is from Down at the Bar that Nigredo begins to meander; as if the band is unsure of where to take the listener. By the fifth track By The Crossing I can't help but feel lost.
If there was one criticism of Nigredo then this is it: the album feels not so much like a journey as a collection of songs of similar style. The album closer Horseshoe Bend acts a euphoric, building album-closer, but by then my attention has waned and the journey is already broken.
The musical foundation of Bronze Chariot is solid. Their style of dark, low-gain, folk/country tinged with sedated post-metal and doom provides a nice amalgamation of US Christmas, Earth, Nick Cave and Cult of Luna. However, by referencing these epic "post" bands, I expect to be taken on a fairly clear emotional journey -- at the very least with high and low points. However, the flow of the album doesn't support this journey; and the moods end up being just a little too similar to fulfill my expectation. The 'epic' aspect of the sound falls short.
Make no mistake, Nigredo is an interesting and worthy debut recording from Bronze Chariot. There are songs which most certainly stand out as highlights, and continue to stick in my head. The sound and style of the band is refreshing.
Nigredo is a good launching point for the group; and I look forward to hearing how they progress their style, their tales and their obvious passion for music further in the future. Worth checking out, but not one of the essential releases of the year.