Barren Earth - _Our Twilight_
(Peaceville, 2009)
by: Mark Dolson (9 out of 10)
When I received this promo from Peaceville, I had no idea what to expect. After looking at the cover (courtesy of Niklas Sundin of Cabin Fever Media, and also the guitar player for Dark Tranquillity), I thought to myself: interesting, I love the colour contrasts with the pale, watery yellows, striking oranges and contrasting blacks -- they're quite autumnal, if you ask me; and so perfectly fitting for this time of year, especially here in Canada. The cover concept also resonated with me inasmuch as I'm an anthropologist, and so I loved the inclusion of the Burmese-looking woman sans her characteristic neck rings -- very interesting, indeed. And the logo looks great, too; it's got that old-school feel to it. So, then, who are Barren Earth? And, more importantly, how is the music on their _Our Twilight_ EP? I'll deal with the former question first, and then move on to the latter.

Barren Earth, from Finland, may indeed be considered a consummate super-group. The band consists of two ex-members from Amorphis (Kasper Mårtenson, who we last heard playing keyboards and Moog on the mighty _Tales From the Thousand Lakes_ and _Black Winter Day_ EP from 1994, and Olli-Pekka Laine, one of the founding members of Amorphis who left after the recording of _Tounela_ in 1999), and current members from Swallow the Sun (Mikko Kotomäki, vocals), Moonsorrow (Marko Tarvonen, drums), Kreator (Sami Ylisirniö, lead guitar), and Rytmihäiriö (Janne Perttilä, guitar -- who also plays session / live guitar in Moonsorrow).

The music featured on the _Our Twilight_ EP is nothing short of fantastic. I'm loath to label it using conventional tags -- such as "atmospheric and progressive death/doom", or "avant-garde extreme metal with touches of prog-rock" -- only insofar as Barren Earth's music exceeds and overflows these constraints the second you start to listen to their music. So, then, what I will say with utmost confidence is that, to me, Barren Earth's music is "autumnal" ("autumnal-metal"? Nah...) in the truest, most poetic sense of the term. As a brief aside, insofar as the colours of the swaying trees outside my office window consist of flame-reds and sun-burst yellows (set against a brooding grey sky), I actually felt I could "hear" the colours in accompaniment to songs such as "Jewel", "Floodred" and "Flame of Serenity" as they played in the background -- an amazing, albeit rare, experience (what some might call "synesthesia"). So, then, _Our Twilight_ is the perfect soundtrack to a cold and mercurial fall day.

More specifically, though, throughout the four songs which span just over twenty-two minutes, we've got heavy desolate passages, with touches of death/doom here and there (not unlike what you'd hear on one of Rapture's or Unholy's albums). The heaviness is punctuated at times with bright, emotive and atmospheric breaks consisting of epic solos, tasteful use of piano and Hammond, and very un-metal sounding clean vocals -- which might be characterised as upbeat, hopeful, and quite unlike Kotomäki's typical crestfallen croon for Swallow the Sun. I'm hard-pressed to find a comparison, but if I must, just try and imagine a combination Lars Nedland's clean vocals for Solefald / Borknagar and Jonas Renkse's from Katatonia. What's really great, though, is that they differ from song to song so maybe the aforementioned comparison is futile. The lower-register death growls are excellent, too, with just a hint of aggression and distress to keep the music balanced and charged.

What I like best about the songs on this EP, though, are the highly characteristic melodies featured therein. They're soaring, beautiful, and sound remarkably akin to Searing Meadow and Amorphis -- especially from the _Tales From the Thousand Lakes_, _Elegy_ or the _Tounela_ eras. Just listen to the track "Flame of Serenity" to see what I mean: you won't be able to get this song out of your head. Oddly enough, this song features keys played by none other than Dan Swanö, who incidentally remixed the last two tracks on the EP. To close, then: if you are a fan of bands Searing Meadow, The Blood Divine, Amorphis (their older material), Opeth, Rapture and Swallow the Sun, then definitely give Barren Earth a try; you won't be disappointed with the _Our Twilight_ EP. This is the perfect time of year for their music, and I'm glad I found out about them. So now I've really got something to look forward to when they release their full-length album through Peaceville sometime in early 2010.


(article published 4/11/2009)

10/10/2010 P Azevedo 9 Barren Earth - Curse of the Red River
3/6/2011 J Carbon Finntroll / Ensiferum / Barren Earth / Rotten Sound Finnish Pride Parade
RSS Feed RSS   Facebook Facebook   Twitter Twitter  ::  Mobile : Text  ::  HTML : CSS  ::  Sitemap

All contents copyright 1995-2024 their individual creators.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission.

All opinions expressed in Chronicles of Chaos are opinions held at the time of writing by the individuals expressing them.
They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, past or present.