Jun 26, 2012
Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve ...
There are many progressive rock elements and always has been with this band but they seem to have made that their primary direction for this new album titled 'The Devil's Resolve.' While Mikko Kotamaki (Swallow the Sun) still has the death-growls in check, there is a hell of a lot more melody and power behind his voice these days. The other side to his vocals is of course is his "clean-voice" and you can hear a lot more of that on this album too. However if all this talk of prog-rock and melody has got you worried, don't be, this is still a very dark doomy album.
The main ingredient to this approach is vintage sounding and very prog-laced keyboards that really are the main driving force behind the atmosphere for this release. What I find so great about this album is it sounds nothing like any of the bands the members come from so it sounds fresh despite the 70's rock elements.
'The Devil's Resolve" really sounds like a musicians album. It is an album put together by guys with many years of experience and they seem to be having fun in stretching themselves musically in ways they might not get to do in the other bands they are a part of. Barren Earth set a pretty high-standard right from the start with 'Passing of the Crimson Shadows' that opens this album. This epic track is doomy, melodic, progressive and death-metal but not necessarily in that order. They blend death doom riffs and vocals with prog rock instrumentation without going too far in either direction but they certainly can't be accused of playing it safe either. As the album progresses through songs like 'The Rains Begin,' 'Vintage Warlords' and 'As it is Written,' it is clear the band is still very much a guitar driven band with the keyboards there just to thicken the sound just that little bit more. At times the keys are pushed forward as the lead instrument, hear the mid section of 'As it is Written' for an example and that is when it gets really proggy but those moments are relatively rare. This is still a death doom album, just a lot more adventurous than most.
'The Dead Exiles' is the albums heaviest track and easily the most straight-forward in its doom appeal but it is the different interludes within songs that make this such a great album. Songs like 'Oriental Pyre' with its mellow acoustic breaks is what makes this such a captivating album and as much as I love pure crushing riffage, the wonderful use of light and shade is what keeps this so interesting. They also unleash several catchy riffs throughout the album so there is plenty for riff-heads to enjoy so this album is full of twists and turns. 'White Fields' and the mellow but also doomy 'Where All Stories End' brings the album to an end all too quickly for my liking. 46 minutes is far too short for an album that is this mesmerizing. 'The Devil's Resolve' is a diverse, multi-dimensional masterpiece in many ways and even the production is almost too good for words. The biggest surprise for me is in some of the sounds, especially the keyboards. At times it reminded me of Deep Purple and the great Jon Lord while at other times, it has an Keith Emerson kind of quality but again, I don't want to scare people off with all this talk of keyboards. The album is not quite 100% perfect but even still, it has to be a contender for album of the year....9.5/10.
Words: Doomm@niac ( Special thanks to Ed for his writing inspiration for this album review )
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