Review: “An Cath (The Battle)” EP from Dratna

Belfast based Dratna are a one man band specialising in Northern Irish Black Metal. “An Cath (The Battle)” is Dratna’s third EP release in a series of Irish Mythology stories, represented in Black Metal form and follows “Clíodhna” and “Altar” which appeared in April and September last year respectively. Idol hands are the devil’s workshop after all.

There are 4 songs in total on “An Cath” however 2 of those pass the 8 minute mark so you have been warned to expect something of epic proportions! Opening with “Shadow of the Mountain”, that expectation is fulfilled immediately. A sweeping Melodic Black Metal affair with roots in Irish Folk music and Scandinavian Black Metal, it’s surprisingly uplifting. Building through harshly whispered vocals, textured guitar work and a beautiful piano element that brings magnitude and majesty to the start of the release. Title track “An Cath” uses a lead guitar flourish of building riffs to create a sense of tension akin to a film score during a car chase sequence. The drum sound isn’t as big or as clean as we usually like but works well in the context of the material, providing a driving force behind the guitars and showing off Dratna’s multi-instrumental skills. Unlike some instrumentals of the longer proportions, this one doesn’t suffer for the lack of vocals. Instead the gradual the gradual tempo shift up keeps you hooked like a Carp on a fisherman’s line.

“He Is Born of Fire” starts with an eerie and unnerving flute part that warns of the songs intent before wave after wave of Black Metal riffage charge like the cavalry over the horizon alongside some pummelling kit work. The return of the vocals are a sees a couple of interesting pitch and tone changes in a more Norwegian inspired style. Around the 5 minute mark there is momentary pause before a building lead guitar part that has an off kilter underpinning which nuances out after multiple listens. It’s a relentless beast of a tune that stops on a dime rather than fading out. “Seasons of the Eel” is the shortest of the tunes at 4 and a half minutes and has a ups the ante with faster tempos to keep the flow and togetherness of the tunes intact. A surprise short melodic break mid way before things burst back into life with a guitar solo is a piece of quality craftsmanship. The attention to detail and the atmosphere building throughout “An Cath” is simply stunning [7.5/10]

“An Cath (The Battle)” by Dratna is out now and available over at bandcamp.

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