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Barren Earth: The devil's resolve

16/04/12  ||  SwornToTheBlack

As a music reviewer I feel it’s not only my job to extol the exceptional, but also to deride the failures. One such exceptional band is Opeth. There really isn’t anything I can say to add to the discussion about this world-renowned outfit. With this notoriety comes the inevitable wave of imitators – most of which fall under the “failure” category. Typically, this is the result of young (or dense) musicians not embracing a more personal voice, instead opting for that of another artist that resonates strongly with them. Occasionally, however, there comes a “super-group” (if you have a fetish for Finland) that somehow manages to ignore its cumulative identities and produces something completely derivative and mostly worthless. Such is the case with Barren Earth on “The devil’s resolve”.

Comprised of members from Swallow the Sun, Moonsorrow, Amorphis, and Kreator, one might be led to expect melancholic doom with soaring leads and a bit of a bite. What one actually gets is a bad imitation of the aforementioned Swedish melo-giants Opeth.

It’s not as if I think anytime a band tries to combine clean singing with death vocals they are shamelessly ripping off Evil Mike. But when you go so far as to emulate song structures, riffs, and another band’s entire repertoire of musical hooks and transitions, it sort of stands to reason that you haven’t put much work into finding your own vision.

Oh sure, Barren Earth manages to blend in some bland Finnish folk influence and creepy synths (creepy like the uncle that likes to rub your shoulders, not the cool kind of creepy like the graveyard in which you fingerbanged Goth chicks in school), but it never comes off as more than a tease that the band will sound like something new, as these sparing elements are always used to transition into an even more Opeth-etic segment.

And in case you were wondering if they stuck exclusively to the old “Blackwater Park”-era Opeth that is so dearly missed, they do not. “As it is written” deviates from the expected approach onto a more recently foraged path with its inclusion of a proggy guitar/keyboard solo section. Don’t fret, they suck at that too (I guess they managed to meet Opeth on the level in this regard).

“The dead exiles” introduces a few new desperately needed tricks to the songwriting. It actually manages to carve some of its own sound out. Had the whole album been approached this honestly, I certainly wouldn’t be ripping on it this hard (though I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t like it). Sadly, the next song “Oriental pyre” returns with more of the same BWP riffing done less proficiently.

In summation, “The devil’s resolve” is little more than a bad approximation of “Watershed” that got a Finnish venereal disease. Both Swallow the Sun and Moonsorrow have consistently worn their influence on their sleeves, but this one goes a bit too far into their common influence. If you’ve got a super hard Opeth or Swallow the Sun/Moonsorrow boner (the latter indicating that you actually have a moist vagina), you might consider giving this a spin, but I still predict you’ll be disappointed.

4

  • Information
  • Released: 2012
  • Label: Peaceville Records
  • Website: www.barrenearth.com
  • Band
  • Mikko Kotamäki: vocals
  • Sami Yli-Sirniö: guitars
  • Janne Perttilä: guitars
  • Olli-Pekka Laine: bass
  • Kasper Mårtenson: keyboards
  • Marko Tarvonen: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Passing of the crimson shadows
  • 02. The rains begin
  • 03. Vintage warlords
  • 04. As it is written
  • 05. The dead exiles
  • 06. Oriental pyre
  • 07. White fields
  • 08. Where all stories end