Branikald is undoubtedly the finest child of Blazebirth Hall along with Forest. The band is known for its repetitive black metal with very raw production, provided by around ten releases during the 90s. The second album (or demo), To Kampf, is no exception and it’s definitely not the easiest Branikald release to get into.
To Kampf contains five tracks of which only two are proper black metal songs (”By the Breath of the Murder” and ”With the Only Eye”) though they’re both around the 10-minute mark. The production is utterly low fidelity but you can still hear the main instruments (guitar, drums and vocals) clear enough. I would recommend headphones, though, otherwise To Kampf might sound a total mess with no point at all. Anyhow, the two tracks contain noble and evil sounding riffs with even some clean vocals (which, however, don’t try to be anything sweet exactly, so don’t expect something Alcest-like). The tracks sound like they were recorded outside somewhere in forests at night time and this is exactly one of Branikald’s best features, because no other band can create exactly this kind of atmosphere. Twisted, dark, cold and trance-inducing in the Blazebirth Hall way.
Guitar-only interlude ”Painest Sea a Kosmfarne” brings the rawness to another level, but still remaining audible and it is surprisingly melancholic piece, belonging to the standout tracks along with ”With the Only Eye”. Intro and outro consist of an out-of-tune piano which fits to the eerie nature of the album. The outro goes for almost 9-minutes which might be a bit too long, but after all, To Kampf runs just for 36 minutes so it never feels too prolonged.
To Kampf is by no means an easy bite to digest. It’s also not the finest output of Branikald, but it’s still a succesful Branikald release and should not be missed by Blazebirth Hall fans.