BESRA – Anhedonia
As with most debuts, the music is exciting and innovative while disjointed and rough around the edges, with the second half of the disc of a more compelling constitution. According to artist’s own description, lyrically, Besra explores the human mind’s difficulties coping with other human beings, specifically psychological disorders, loneliness and abandonment. The subject matter, then, fits perfectly with music that harkens back to early Mastodon, Tool, My Dying Bride, Chimaira, Katatonia, early Machine Head and even Ulcerate, while the album long intro recalls Megadeth’s "Trust" buildup from "Cryptic Writings". Ville Kaisla’s drums follow Pekko Seppälä’s bass perfectly, but they do have moments of their own excursions (Dwell In Gloom) while Ville Kujansuu’s guitars skillfully navigate through Tool/latter Katatonia at times Meshuggah-ic rhythms and fills without distict leads per se and quiet and calm hypnotic passages, getting most impressive on the favorite "Next Chapter" that has My Dying Bride’s "The Dreadful Hours" doom dynamics all over it (5:40). Unfortunately, we don’t get to find out what Cassie’s ex-guitarist, Johannes Nygård, does in Besra, perhaps he plays a saxophone (Dwell In Gloom). As for Hannes Hietarinta ( Vocals, Keyboards), I have nothing but praise: the man is equally comfortable in clean croons, Chimaira’s Mark Hunter-esque hardcore screams as well as enigmatic spoken passages turned terrifying shouts of despair, his keyboards supporting Kujansuu’s guitar wails for added dread, insanity and horror (Pariah) of, I presume, a man bereft of human touch.
The most valluable asset, the ability to navigate between oppressive doomy heaviness and quiet psychedelia is also Besra’s flaw. The frequent changes of pace are sometimes not so smooth and quite a few times I thought I was listening to the silence between the tracks, whilst still listening to the same song. The aforementioned "Next Chapter" properly ends on such a quiet note that I thought my earbuds gave out. But I’m sure the proper balance will come with time-in-band despite the undeniable experience in previous outfits.
Besra is an interesting outfit that bodes well for the future. Their songwriting may need honing for proper balance but they are already fiercely original and able to evoke strong feelings in the listener all of which makes me look forward to further releases.