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Barren Earth: Curse Of The Red River

Last year I was tantalized with this EP that I received called Our Twilight by this band called Barren Earth. This Finnish supergroup managed to produce one of the best and most habit forming disc to come along in quite awhile. There is something about the way that they manage to cohabitate in many different realms of the metal world and do so as if they are natives of each and every genre. It was with eager anticipation that I waited for this full length disc to come. Simply put, these guys are going to show the world a new and totally new approach to the field of music where bands like Opeth are considered for the moment to be the rulers.

It is very hard to describe what makes this band so domineering. It could be the way that they blend the world of death metal into a menagerie of sound that has elements of 70ish era prog, pop, folk, NWOBHM, jazz and insert whatever class of music you want here _______. Your senses are in for one mental workout as these guys are totally stunning in both their approach and their delivery. Mesmerizing is the word that comes to mind as the song "The Ritual Of Dawn" plays in the background as I write this. If this band does not become the next big name in the music world, than there is something terribly wrong with this industry.

This disc opens with the almost 8 minute title track "The Curse Of The Red River". With a chunky guitar right out of the Black Sabbath catalogue, the growling vocals of Mikko Kotamäki who you might know from his other project called Swallow The Sun, sets a menacing tone that highlights the heaviness of the band before you are set on your ear as they morph into a melodic style that briefly emphasizes a lightness but which always has this churning dark underbelly to it. Mikko adds an echo effect to this light vocal style that reminds me of early Moody Blues or even a group like The Associations with their pop sense of harmony. Quite a span from the death metal bed upon which they lay! To top it off they once again do a 90 degree turn when they settle down to an acoustic outro with a flute providing the melody in a way that brings back shades of the band Traffic. The dynamics of this group is amazing and this opening barrage is just the first salvo in their quest for total sensory dominance.

They next add the one holdover from the last EP with the song "Our Twilight". This is a wise choice as those that did not catch this the first time around will wonder why when they hear it. The song was reworked and expanded for the new disc but both versions are searing examples of what Barren Earth has to offer.

No band is stronger than their weakest link. Once in awhile a group comes along that doesn't have any fallible metal in their chain. Barren Earth is that kind of group. With a rhythm section that keeps this train a running. Bassist Olli-Pekka Laine and drummer Marko Tarvonen are a force that sets the tone for this juggernaut. They don't let anyone forget how heavy the band is.

The duel guitar attack is such a vibrant presence with one of them delivering the heavy chunky bottom end while the other is performing a masterful melody line or terrific solo and even the well placed pick squeal! Sami Ylisimiö and Janne Pertilä is a pair that will be gracing all the guitar mags very soon I am sure. There is something special when you get chemistry like these two have and a pure delight for all that get the opportunity to hear them in action.

The not so secret weapon in the Barren Earth arsenal is keyboardist Kasper Mártenson. He manages to provide a gothic dimension to their sound when they are at their heaviest and is the balloon upon which they sail when the band lightens things up. He also is astounding when setting the tone as with his terrific classical piano work like in the song "The Ritual Of Dawn". He seems to have that sixth sense when it comes to what a song calls for from the keyboard department and this is an integral part of what makes them something special.

So without further ado, here is the full length debut from one of the most electrifying bands to come along. They are the class act that is going to knock the Opeth and the Opeth wanabees right off the top of the mountain. Not only are they that good…they sound hungry and are looking to feed upon the unsuspecting public. This is a must have disc and will be one that you might want to buy a spare copy in case of accident or overuse.

Track listing:

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 Parish
8. Cold Earth Parish
9. Deserted Morrows

Added: March 25th 2010
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Band's Official Page
Hits: 2596
Language: english

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Barren Earth: Curse Of The Red River
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-03-25 08:12:51
My Score:

The Finnish supergroup known as Barren Earth have hit a home run here on their debut full-length CD Curse of the Red River. Those who heard their intro EP Our Twilight last year knew that something special was-a-brewing, and it's very clear by what we have here that a very special band has arrived on the metal scene.

Combining elements of death metal, folk, 70's prog rock, and vintage hard rock, Barren Earth take their influences and experiences in their current or previous bands (Swallow the Sun, Amorphis, Moonsorrow, Kreator) and have created something new, fresh, and invigorating here. Whether it's the soaring clean vocal harmonies battling the growls of "Our Twilight", or the thunderous guitar riff-o-rama complemented by waves of Mellotron on the chilling title track, there's surprises at every turn on Curse of the Red River. "Forlorn Waves" even has somewhat of an Opeth vibe to it, as Mikko Kotamäki mixes in some wonderful clean vocals amidst the growls while gorgeous piano melodies chime in and mesh with the pounding riffs.

In fact, if you are going to make any comparisons, Curse of the Red River takes the best of vintage Opeth and Amorphis, spins it up in a blender, and comes out with a new flavor. This is that good folks, a new metal supergroup that will easily appeal to a wide variety of listeners. I can't imagine 70's prog rock lovers not falling for a tune like "The Ritual of Dawn", complete with its great analog synth lines, or the deep melancholy of "Cold Earth Chamber". While the death metal influence is apparent on each and every track, it's classy and progressive death metal all the way, tempered by the prog flavors, folk, and even some wild Deep Purple/Uriah Heep organ/guitar freakouts.

Basically, this is great stuff here, and sure to be one of 2010's most talked about metal albums.

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