Barren Earth | ‘The Devil’s Resolve’
You know, three years ago when Barren Earth’s debut popped up, it was clear that this was a band destined for great things (as we said here. We have a habit of spotting talent.)
Mixing up all the best elements of Amorphis, Edge Of Sanity and Opeth, they’re the kind of band who you can get really into – the kind of band that reward the inquisitive listener and indulge the true music fan.
This new album only establishes their pedigree further.
Opener ‘Passing Of The Crimson Shadows’ shows a greatly increased confidence. It recalls the mood and sentiment, though not the tone, of early Opeth. It draws from that same wellspring of old European modes which served Akerfelt and co so well in their formative years.
Then it’s on to the album’s whopper, ‘The Rains Begin’. It’s a huge, gallavanting track, borrowing from the folkier sides of metal and which will please fans of everything from Solstice to Skyclad and back again.
Surely however the creative peak on here is the ranging, diverse and colourful ‘As It Is Written’. It would take two hands to count the influences. Chiefly though it opens with some dainty piano before rocking out with a mix of Horslips, Thin Lizzy, Jethro Tull, and… er.. Shadow The Sun, with whom they share a member.
Don’t think however that this is some sort of jangly dance of an album. It’s got a hard metal core, in the same way cool experimental bands like the almost forgotten Subterranean Masquerade or Mindrot did. In other words, they’re underground and heavy as the best of them.
Peaceville deserve great credit for signing and sticking with this band. They’re by no means a cash cow, and in fact may only receive critical, rather than financial reward when it really comes down to it. Such is the lot of bands ahead of their game.
To widen it out yet further, it’s because of bands like Barren Earth that you can be sure metal is continuing its positive evolution – breaking barriers while respecting its roots. These Finnish lads have made a genuine alchemy of styles in here, and it really has to be savoured by any true fan of the underground.
Just hear the vaguely ‘Serenity Painted Death’ feel of ‘Oriental Pyres’ and you’ll be hooked by the dark groove.
For the rest of it, it’s at times doomy, at times folky, at all times European sounding result of a total steeping in the 90’s underground.
I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. Buy the album and set it up there with Arcturus, Solefald, Borknagar, Moonspell, Mindrot, Amorphis, Edge Of Sanity, Orphaned Land…. I could go on and on. The influences are everywhere and it’s nothing short of a pleasure.
4.6 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 21/03/12