Barren Altar - Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth
Self released
Black Metal / Funeral Doom
5 songs (44'43")
Release year: 2018
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Barren Altar is another band you have never heard of which combine black metal and funeral doom. This blend is not something most intuitively added together, but others I recently tried to introduce you to – Isenordal – were doing it on Shores of Mourning. Barren Altar, however, is a completely different animal than Isenordal. There is no folksiness, no sweet sadness to their music. But the very first time I heard Nexus of Grief my mouth was wide agape, not quite comprehending exactly what hit me, but I felt it with my skin I am witnessing something high quality.

Sure, harmonized funeral intro of Nexus of Grief grabs attention, but you certainly have no idea where Barren Altar is going from there. This “where to” question is a theme throughout on Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth. First blasting and then more spread out delineated chords bring everything out of somber hibernation and the ugly face peers in through the smoke. Supported throughout the Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth by beautiful guitar harmonies, Barren Altar manages to capture the face of pure emotional evil on Nexus of Grief. This is the serpent writhing underneath with crackling vocals, the cloud of black toxic smolder seeping from somewhere underneath. This is an epitome of negative emotion, an explosive mixture of terror, anger and sadness. A quick acoustic pause, another slower funeral drag and madness returns, as if you are stabbing the pillow with a knife seeking release. Listening to Nexus of Grief live is probably devastating, and from what I understand Barren Altar are a road presence, at least on the West Coast.

Submerged, title fitting, is a gloomy muffled acoustic coming from afar, transitioning to Call to the Waves in similar fashion, and just as I started thinking the pause after Nexus of Grief may have been a little overextended, Barren Altar plunged back into heavy negativity without warning. The fantastic dark harmonies are very prevalent on Call to the Waves, the tempo zigzags up and down. There is frequency blowing sludge, some acoustic quietness, and parts seem to be rather disparate, until interesting percussion brings unity, and extended solo finishes the composition.

The Great Awakening of Death and Delirium Vivens also move from contemplative to pounding and present a number of interesting moments with a wide range of emotion, but the unbelievable amalgam of Nexus of Grief is hard to replicate. The flow between disparate parts and genres Barren Altar touches upon is something not easy to maintain through 10 min songs, and Barren Altar is certainly a band to watch in that regard. The Great Awakening of Death pours on the heavy death/doom molasses until the warriors are sent off to their last battle, resigned but stoic, lunging towards their last breath. Delirium Vivens on the other hand tends to lean more into the direction of melodic black metal to close the proceedings.

Unsettling and taking an emotional toll, if Disembowelment or Swallow the Sun had a collaboration in the Pacific NorthWest located studio with Lurker of Chalice, and gave a nod to old school Swedish masters, like early Katatonia, then something like Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth could have emerged.

Killing Songs :
Nexus of Grief, The Great Awakening of Death
Alex quoted 80 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:29 am
View and Post comments