Breag Naofa comes from the Irish Gaelic and translates as ‘holy lie’. The Seattle band that operates under this name is quite clear about their anti-religion stance: it is the unifying ideology of the band. The other unifying force at work here, and something to which everyone on this site can relate, is music. Religion makes great use of music, and with good reason: it’s something that can have an immediate effect on our minds and emotions. You could say it’s in the genes.
So while the religious can lay claim to music’s considerable powers, then why not also the non-religious? After all, music does not discriminate along lines of faith: it just is.
Breag Naofa’s particular style of music is heavy, with driving riffs, extreme vocals and post-metal dynamics. There are definite influences of Cult of Luna, Isis and particularly Fall of Efrafa here; and while the likes of Isis will use both clean and dirty vocals, Breag Naofa fall very much into the latter camp, using the human voice as another instrument pushed to its extremes.
So while the anti-religious stance of the band is taken as a given, and the subject matter of the record’s artwork (particularly the cephalophore) is an interesting juxtaposition to the band’s message, the four songs here also leave the listener in no doubt as to their musical philosophy. It is immediate in its intent, pounding out an assured sonic message. What’s interesting about this band is that were the music to be slowed down, there are passages which would work very effectively as doom. Instead, however, Breag Naofa keeps up a steady tempo, varying from song to song and indeed within the songs themselves.
Song “I” (no names here, just numbers) uses a well-chosen vocal sample to introduce the piece before the driving, main riff which forces the song forwards. It’s a strong start and covers much post-metal territory during its 10 minute duration. Things slow down a bit in song “II” (this is one of the instances where it could easily have mutated into doom), before a mid-paced gallop as things become heavier, faster and a little more thrash-like. There are definite, discrete sections to this song, each contrasting with the previous one. In song “III” the listener is treated to a chugging metal riff, showing Breag Naofa to be at the metal end of the post-metal spectrum, with less of the ethereal, shoe gazing aspects of the form, and more of the straight ahead heaviness about their work. Having said that, the listener can still lose oneself in the long, complex pieces that they create. Song “IV” slows down the pace again beginning with a clean guitar sound over a slow rhythm section. Again, given a little less pace and it would move into doom territory.
With a spate of post-metal bands around at the moment, the question is will Breag Naofa carve themselves a niche; do they have what it takes to stand out from the crowd? Well, on the strength of these songs they certainly have lots of promise and potential; the next year will see them consolidate their position and – hopefully – develop their sound even further. This is an assured starting point for the band; mark Breag Naofa as one to watch for the future.