For Fans Of
Barren Earth are known for producing death metal infused with prog and folk elements. It’s consistent and versatile, if nothing else. Having now undergone a lineup change, with Mikko Kotamäki replaced by new singer Jón Aldará, the Helsinki band brings us their latest work ‘On Lonely Towers’, which provides some of the group’s most progressive work yet.
Things are calm and humble from the beginning, yes, strange adjectives for a metal album, but the real energy which introduces itself in ‘Howl‘ ensures this doesn’t last long. The rightfully named track shows off the prominent vocals that Aldará now brings to the table, so powerful and filled with raw emotion. Switching from angry and deep metal growls to high, howling cleans, the vocal range is simply impressive.
Contrasting dark death metal with the progressive guitar work gives the album an edge. There is both skilful and meaty riffs mixed with death metal’s trademark ferocious and fast intensity. Tracks like ‘Frozen Processions’ show Barren Earth taking on a lot more progressive rock influences than they have in the past. The track feels rock heavy but mixed with those hearty, angry growls to give it a menacing edge.
Moreover, the piano makes another appearance in one of this album’s stand out tracks, ‘Set Alight.’ It takes the pace down even further but offers the listener a memorable crescendo. Equally, the song moves between slow, sombre cleans and a powerful influx of heavier, complex guitar and growls. This is the track that aptly shows Barren Earth‘s ability to move out of the box…and, simply, they pull it off phenomenally.
Contrastively, ‘On Lonely Towers‘ offers two lengthy songs. The title track exudes beautiful melody, but probably didn’t need to be as long. While, closer, ‘The Vault’ is a sweet, well-timed 11 minutes of slow and haunting melodies with more hints of prog rock that leave you more than satisfied.
‘On Lonely Towers’ shows Barren Earth taking on a more progressive and experimental sound. If you want something in your face and heavy to blast and head bang to then this probably isn’t it. But, if you want slower yet skilled, beautifully melodic and progressive metal this is an absolute winner.
From the Depths of Spring
A Shapeless Derelict
On Lonely Towers
Chaos, the Songs Within