Breathe Fire To The Sun is the debut album by Finnish metal band Brymir. Though the band seems to being branded as a folk metal act wherever I look to get a bit of background research to kick this review off, upon listening to the debut album I find myself hearing something that is certainly folk influenced, but what folk influence there is to be found is extremely minimal. Instead what I find myself confronted with here is best described as (very) symphonic melodic death metal.
One could argue that is something of a folk quality to some of the lead guitar work, but it generally doesn’t really sit right in the mix to really dominate the sound, being overpowered by the symphonic elements in the music in almost every way, and to be honest they’re too few and far between for me to consider this folk metal. One could also argue that the symphonic sounds are being used in order to create some sort of epic/symphonic folk metal, but if that was the intention it just hasn’t worked out at all well and Brymir has ended up with something completely different on their hands. To be fair, there’s a certain quality to the delivery that screams folk metal at me, but in general the execution of the music lacks enough folk sounds to be considered as such.
So despite having got off on the wrong foot with Brymir’s debut due to expecting one thing and getting another (not the first time this has happened with a band getting tagged as folk for me in 2011 – see my review for Darkest Era’s The Last Caress of Light), I find myself actually enjoying Breathe Fire To The Sun a fair bit, but not really to the point that it really captures me. It’s certainly listenable though and I’m pretty sure fans of more extreme symphonic metal styles will be able to take the most enjoyment out of it, but it’s the sort of album that when I listen to it, I think “yeah, these guys have potential, but they’ve got a lot of work to do before I’ll be really impressed”.
This said, Breathe Fire To The Sun is worth a generally praise-worthy report. Brymir certainly have the elements that could make them really great, but for me they seem to lack a unique stamp on the music and variation that would have pushed the score for this release up a fair bit. What we get basically from the off, intro track aside, is some very symphonic and melodic extreme metal with little variation to the pattern, although some folk influences do crop up, they don’t exactly add much more depth to the music and they seem kind of in the background. There’s a pretty decent growled vocal from vocalist Viktor Gullichsen though, and the symphonic elements is actually pulled off pretty well, creating some pretty decent tracks, especially the likes of In Silence and Free Man's Path, which is a song that does actually strike me as being more folk metal, with a folksy melody to the keyboards and the lead guitar, although it generally doesn’t last all the way through the piece before switching back to the extreme symphonic sounds heard prior to it.
The metal elements here are pretty much a brand of melodic death metal. The heavy riffs are enjoyable and fit well with the symphonies, and the band is very capable to produce epic rocking tracks such as Burning Within. The trouble I find with it is that it seems pretty formulated, a clear showcase of a group playing on their strengths with little variation, with perhaps the aforementioned Free Man's Path being the album’s biggest surprise because of the more prominent folk influence. There is also some nice piano in the lengthy title track, but other than that it’s still pretty much the same deal.
Breathe Fire To The Sun is a generally good first album, but I expect Brymir will be able to do better with future efforts. I recommend checking it out but seriously, don’t go to Brymir looking for folk metal or you may come away from the experience with more negative thoughts than is really just. Instead go to Brymir looking for extreme symphonic metal and you’ll find something that is generally well crafted, if a little repetitive. Each individual track is generally pretty enjoyable but there’s only a few on the album that I find really memorable, such as Cycle of Flame, with the others being enjoyable at the time but not really leaving a lasting impression. The few really good standout tracks save the album from a mediocre score and my advice to Brymir would be to take what folk ideas are here and fit them into the compositions better, while retaining the grand symphonic sounds that dominate Breathe Fire To The Sun, then I think they’ll have a much more interesting album on their hands.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 6.8/10)