Barren Earth - Curse Of The Red River

Featuring former members of Finnish metal band Amorphis, to current members of Swallow the Sun, Moonsorrow, and Kreator, Barren Earth are a metal supergroup that strangely no one seems to be talking about. Late in 2009 Barren Earth released the EP called "Twlight" and it promised great things for the future, little did i know the future would arrive so quickly. The full length album "Curse Of The Red River" is already here and its a great piece of work but it may not be what people expect. Blending death/thrash metal with progressive rock, folk, psychedelia and doom is never a easy task but they have done a great job at producing something eclectic but also very easy to listen to considering what a challenge that must have been putting this together. A intense mood along with melancholy are perfectly meshed together. The album's main strength is they completely ignored the standard metal rules by doing away with traditional song structures, the songs can switch from depressing doom to uplifting melodies and usually do it when you least expect it happen. The opening title track is a uneven slab of music but awe-inspiring in its arrangement, from doom passages to prog rock to death metal and everything in-between all crammed into its 8 minutes. This somewhat confusing blending of genres seems like a mess on the first listen, what mood am i supposed to be in while cranking this one up? Once you get used to this wild mish-mash of styles though, its a captivating CD from start to finish.

Lively guitar solos that cross across the whole of the heavy metal spectrum are played sometimes with intense melodic touches and at other times they just shred. Vocals switch between the clean to growling death vocals and the addition of classical piano in songs like "Forlorn Waves" adds yet another dimension to the wealth of sound textures already present on "Curse Of The Red River". "Flicker" hits upon a folk metal sound while "The Leer" sounds like classic power metal from the past. "The Ritual Of Dawn" has a spacious atmosphere with intricate guitar solos and on "Ere All Perish" they sound like a European epic doom band. "Deserted Morrows" is another sound again with the acoustic guitars creating a almost Gothic doom vibe, the band literally don't leave a stone unturned on this album which at times is a bit of monstrosity in musical terms but at same time, never boring or pretentious. The album was produced by Dan Swano at Unisound in Sweden (Katatonia, Opeth, etc) who commented, "One of the best albums I have ever had the privilege to mix". Not a surprising comment really, the album is one of the most un-compromising albums made in the last few years and any band that can mix Latin guitar strumming with death metal riffing and make it work gets my vote.

The bottom line is this a album with something for most metal fans out there but ones with a more narrow-minded, clearly defined taste in metal may find this album a little overblown with so many genres and styles blended together. Aristocratic, potent, epic, progressive and technical, this band may be the metal supergroup of 2010. One point though, the band has been labeled as doom metal by some websites and reviewers so if you are expecting another plodding doom release, this will disappoint. This is closer to melodic, progressive death metal than anything else but then again, words cannot describe a album like this. Check it out for yourself.

1. The Curse Of The Red River

2. Our Twilight

3. Forlorn Waves

4. Flicker

5. The Leer

6. The Ritual Of Dawn

7. Ere All Perish

8. Cold Earth Chamber

9. Deserted Morrows

Peaceville Records
Reviewer: Ed
Apr 3, 2010

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