Burial Shrouds: in need of Russian folk elements for a stronger sound and style

Sivyj Yar, Burial Shrouds, Italy, Avantgarde Music, CD AV262 (2015)

Sivyj Yar’s latest album “Burial Shrouds” embraces a theme of the hardships of life in pre-modern Russia, when peasants were at the mercy of harsh weather and biting icy cold, and famine caused by bad harvests was an ever-present hazard. The harsh physical environment has made Russian people tough and enduring, and the adaptations, accommodations and sacrifices they have had to make are part of their heritage which they acknowledge and celebrate.

For the most part, the music is melodic post-metal which (in my view) is a bit too fast for the more atmospheric aspect of Sivyj Yar’s style to be expressed. While the music is equal parts aggression and lament, it does tend to slide towards generic post-metal and needs more Russian folk ambient elements for a more distinct style and flavour. The shouty vocals are distant in the mix and have a hoarse worn-out quality; they need to be more upfront and have more variety so they don’t sound more like nagging and haranguing than what they intend to be.

As the album progresses, the songs do improve and take on a more individual character with the addition of synthesisers, spoken word samples and quiet interludes. “Like a Spark We will vanish into the Darkness” has some good melodies and riffs although I do think it could sound less resigned and a bit more defiant. Death may be inevitable but that does not mean we should simply give ourselves up without a fight – it’s better to die with dignity than without.

Last track “The Snow shall Fall a Long While” sounds like it should be a long ambient piece but it turns out to be more shrieking post-BM with a female chorus in the background. There is plenty of roaring fury for much of the song but near the end an extended acoustic instrumental brings in the wintry atmosphere and emotion that the rest of the album badly needs.

Please don’t misunderstand me, the music here is good and main man Vladimir is a good all-round musician, but this album doesn’t have a clear identity of its own that expresses its ideas and pushes its message fully.

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