Review: Bretus ‘Magharia’

Magharia is Bretus‘ fifth full-length album and the official follow-up to 2019s Aion Tetra as 2020s Self-Titled EP, which I reviewed back in November, was a reissue of the 2010 original. The band, who hail from the city of Catanzaro or ‘the City of Two Seas’ (as it overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west and Ionian Sea on the east) are made up of Zagarus (vox/FX), Striges (drums), Ghenes (guitars/keys) and Janos (bass).

Bretus ‘Magharia’

The cover art (by DamianaMerante Art) taps into the band’s fondness for horror with ghoulish figures in the foreground and the agonised faces resembling the protagonist in Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch’s The Scream. This fondness expands further as according to the promo notes Magharia is ‘based on some of the frightening Italian ghost tales. Between legend and myth…’.

Celebration Of Gloom opens with some spooky atmospherics before some awesome crunchy guitar riffage comes to the fore. The track is a mix of the heavy blues metal of the first Danzig album as well as the spooky death-rock intonations of Samhain III: November-Coming-Fire. This makes for a vibrant and energetic opening track, so far so good. Cursed Island‘s main riff will give you neck ache with all the headbanging you’ll be doing. There is a definite Sabbathian vibe present and features the kind of riff Iommi would kill to write again at his now more advanced age.

Moonchild’s Scream reminds one a little of the epic doom metal of Candlemass, while Zagarus‘ vocals bare more than a passing resemblance to Messiah Marcolin. There is something overwhelmingly joyous about the sheer bombast of the track and hopefully Bretus will record their own Bewitched style music video as a result of reading this. Necropass the shortest track on the entire album at 1:18 is the first of two instrumentals, a somewhat mellow yet eerie piece that sounds like it was recorded in a cavern, and serves as something of a breather.

a mix of the heavy blues metal of the first Danzig album as well as the spooky death-rock intonations of Samhain III: November-Coming-Fire…

Nuraghe is a megalithic tower with a truncated cone shape that existed during the bronze age on the island of Sardinia. The track bearing its name has a ‘megalithic’ feel to it with a sound that reminds one of the NWOBHM intonations of Trouble. Headless Ghost keeps up the momentum and excitement while the inclusion of Zagarus‘ vocals gives you an idea as to what it would sound like if Glenn Danzig ever decided to front a traditional doom metal band.

The Bridge Of Damnation is a nod to The Obsessed and their brand of biker doom metal, especially on that band’s The Church Within. It certainly captures the chemistry that existed between Greg Rogers, Guy Pinhas and Wino at that time, with a meaty sound that has been perfectly captured here. There is even some Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds style darkness present too. Sinful Nun reminds me a little of Slayer in places, the track definitely has a little more speed than we have heard so far.

Finally, we have Magharia, the second instrumental on the album and by far the most experimental, seemingly an out of place number on here. The track demonstrates a proggier side to the band with synths in tow and volume toned down in favour of technicality. The track brings to mind Zombi’s retro 80s prog-synth work and makes for a curious, yet effective, conclusion to the album.

With this album Bretus demonstrate they have come a long way from the days of the Self-Titled EP being far more musically confident and accomplished, making this an album well worth investigating.

Label: The Swamp Records | Burning Coffin Records | Overdrive Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills