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Breichau Hir "Hir Oes I'r Cof" – Album Review

Cardiff’s Welsh language post-hardcore pioneers Breichiau Hir deliver a staunch and stand-out debut album with “Hir Oes I’r Cof”, a cathartic and bittersweet exploration of the comfort and heartbreak of memory and nostalgia.

Throughout the album, there is a tried-and-true early-2010s post-hardcore sound, with acts like More Than Conquerors and Freeze the Atlantic coming immediately to mind. The guitars have just the right balance of bite, drive and growl and the tight rhythm section holds it all together. Steffan Dafydd’s heartfelt lyrics are well-crafted yet unforced, presenting an interesting and modern take on hiraeth, laden with post-angst rumination and (anti-)nostalgia. Translating roughly as “Long Live the Memory”, “Hir Oes I’r Cof” carries a sense of trying to recapture something fleeting, whilst also trying to leave it behind. Dafydd emphasises: “The theme of a river as a metaphor for time runs through the album… the more you replay your memories the more they reshape and reform.”

The musical progression is transparent and natural, with change-ups of rhythm, timing and inflection never forced, all serving the great songwriting and narrative at the centre (marked with some great choruses I should add). Amongst this, there are some true stand-out moments: For me, it’s tracks like “Ni’n Hapusach”, “Y Pwysau Mawr” and “Glasoed Tragwyddol” that shine the brightest, the vocals moving between a softer (perhaps more indiepop) delivery and something with a grittier hardcore edge, subtly lacing in just enough heart-wrench. However, it is the single “Ofni Braidd” that crowns the album, distinguishing itself at the beautiful coincidence of post-hardcore and post rock, capturing the feeling of apprehension and loss found throughout the music of Explosions in the Sky or Envy. While the build-up could have been bigger, it’s a cleverly concise piece perfectly fitting for the album.

My only criticism (and a very minor one at that), perhaps down to personal preference: it sometimes feels like the rhythm section is sitting ever so slightly behind the mix, when I’d perfectly happily get punched in the stomach as hard as possible. With that said, it still sounds great, not to mention enormous when needed.

While it doesn’t go anywhere musically post-hardcore hasn’t gone before, “Hir Oes I’r Cof” is a satisfying true-to-genre experience with zero padding that further addresses the long-standing Welsh language gap in Welsh music. It’s an important album, and arguably overdue given Wales’ post-hardcore credits. From a more casual point of view (or if you simply need a break from the mathcore), the melodic and emotive content of “Hir Oes I’r Cof” is effortlessly enjoyable and moving. Hir oes i Breichiau Hir.

“Hir Oes I'r Cof” is out now on Libertino Records: Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

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