Did We Just Get Blessed With The Best Metal Album of 2023?

Did-We-Just-Get-Blessed-With-The-Best-Metal-Album-of-2023?
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The artist known as Blackbraid literally came out of nowhere last year with their excellent debut, Blackbraid I. We loved it so much that it rather easily found its way on our best albums of 2022 list.

The proudly self-proclaimed ‘Native American Black Metal’ project is the mastermind of Jon Krieger, who performs under the pseudonym Sgah’gahsowáh and writes and records all of the instruments except for the drums.

Intentionally record label-free, Krieger has amassed a devout following in no time, quitting his job as a carpenter and going full-time with Blackbraid pretty shortly after starting it. OK cool, guys. So what’s it sound like and why should I give a shit?

If you like your metal served black, with a frothing of atmospheric and melodic cream, this is very likely for you. Think Agalloch, Panopticon, Wolves in the Throne Room, Wayfarer, etc., but sharpened to a razor’s edge with tight-as-balls precision and great production.

Also, we’re going to address the elephant in the room flat out: mixing black metal with a flute sounds like a terrible idea on paper. Yet somehow, Blackbraid makes it work. It feels authentic, sounds pretty badass, and allows the album to breathe in a way that makes it all the more crushing when the heavy parts kick back in. Where does the seemingly random influence come from? Krieger told Invisible Oranges last year that everything about Blackbraid’s vibe stems quite literally from how and where he lives:

“I live in the Adirondacks, which is a huge national park in upstate New York, and that’s most of what influences my writing. I’ve lived in the wilderness and been an outdoorsman for most of my life, and I do a bunch of traditional stuff too, like I tan, hunt, fish, and taxidermy. I’m in nature 24/7, and I’m very connected with it, on a spiritual level and an everyday, basic level.

I’m looking out my window right now at 30,000 acres of wilderness. I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, and that’s always been a huge part of my life.”

Throw in a killer Bathory cover to boot, and yeah, we might, might just have us an album of the year on our hands here, folks. Give it a listen and shoot us a note if you agree. Or, if you think we’re smoking too much dope, you can yell at us on social media.

If you dig it as much as us, consider supporting and pre-ordering the album right here.

Listen to Blackbraid’s excellent new album, Blackbraid II: