Friday, 26 April 2013

Barshasketh - Sitra Achra

Todestrieb Records 2013
1.Sitra Achra 2.Malaise 3.L'Ange du Meridien 4.Bitter Sagacity
5.Sonnets To Orpheus 6.Leaden Horizon 7.Schlußstück
Classical guitars introduce first track 'Sitra Achra' in quite a strange fashion as they sound a little different to what you would expect from acoustic guitars on a black metal album, but maybe that’s the intention, to be different. It's not long before the bleak black metal music opens up in a depressing malaise, slow, mournful and tortured would probably describe the music best. It's quite a strange opening track which is comprised of three elements; the acoustic classical guitar intro, the slow mournful middle section and then ending on an almost progressive note, with the guitar work sounding quite unconventional and not sitting particularly well with the rest of the song. It's not until 'Malaise' spews forth its brutal, raw and hateful black metal that musically we're in more familiar territory. Snarled rasping vocals belch their hateful rants, the drums blast unmercifully at full speed whilst the buzz-saw tremolo picked guitars really set a blistering pace. Variety is added pace wise when the track slows to an almost Burzum-esque crawl which really adds an epic edge to the song and the main riff used is extremely catchy, whilst remaining full on black metal. The songsends on a real high, returning to the hellish blast beat filled sections with some excellent guitar harmonies to be heard, again, catchy bordering on the epic. 'L'Ange Du Meridien' is another extremely catchy and memorable track with high end tremolo picked guitars and raging drums providing a brutal yet mournfully atmospheric soundtrack. As ever, the harsh snarling vocals are there, almost in the background bellowing hate and disgust. Again, if comparisons were needed, then musically newer Burzum would be not too far off the mark, Barshasketh opt for a bit more melody to their sound with the production being the right side of 'raw' without sounding purposely shit. 'Bitter Sagacity' really punishes once more, more hate-filled black metal played at break neck pace which makes for a really savage offering. There really isn’t any let up in the pace of the track, its blast beats all the way which accompany melodic, yet savage black metal guitars. As the song draws to a close, the pace is relinquished and the mid-paced epicness returns. Again, the riffs used to end the track are amazingly catchy and this is epic black metal at its best. 'Sonnets To Orpheus' is the longest track of the album, clocking in at almost eight minutes but its one of those tracks that doesn’t feel too long or that has been written this length on purpose just to impress. This is such an impressive song, so emotional and atmospherically epic it really is excellent. Different paces are used well, ranging from a doomy crawl packed full of bitterness and anger all the way through to the hyper fast blast beat filled sections. Very impressive!
'Leaden Horizon' is yet more of the same, following on masterfully from the previous track. As is becoming the norm, there really isn’t any let up, this is black metal at its most dangerous, its sounds absolutely deadly yet still manages to retain its sense of melody through the fast guitar work. The vocals are especially stand out, rasping and snarling throughout the entire album, its a cliché but they are hate-filled, full of scorn and bitterness, as you would expect. What sets the band apart from many black metal bands around today is when the pace is dropped right down; the epic atmospheres they create are ice-cold and mournfully epic – and catchy! The Kvlt may not enjoy the word 'catchy' for a black metal album, but this really is. It's a fucking 'joy' to listen to, another word not normally associated with black metal. Final track 'Schlußstück' is testament to the bands ability to slow a song down to allow the menacing atmosphere to draw the listener in to the hatred, the first two minutes of the track absolutely punishing. The song then breaks out into the faster pace which really builds the track up into a frenzy. As the song slowly draws to a close the pace is dropped once again which allows the epic atmospheres to really build the tension and end things on a high. Again, its amazingly catchy, its epic and its a fitting end to a stunning album. Barshasketh have released an amazing black metal album, packed full of harsh atmospheres with melodies that are instantly memorable and catchy. Used a lot in this review, 'epic' best describes much of this album. The musicianship on show is first rate and its not an over exaggeration to say that this is some of the best black metal i've heard for quite some time. Originally from New Zealand, but now based in Edinburgh it might explain the fact that the bands brand of black metal is quite unique for these shores and is why this album comes very highly recommended.
9 out of 10

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