BARREN EARTH – On Lonely Towers
This is a very pleasant surprise. This offering contains a little bit of everything I love about metal: now a Borknagar-like "Frozen Processions" (the best track on the album) through My Dying Bride-ish "Set Alight" and "Vault", with a bit of Opeth thrown in "Howl" but not as much as they used to, "On Lonely Towers" is a massive construction of excellent death/doom metal. Those who prefer more doom in their death/doom will appreciate how the vocals vary from growls to ballad like near-operatic cleans, in a relatively equal measure.
Barren Earth started as an interesting Opeth-inspired outfit and after three albums is really coming around as a very original and creative set of artists. While musically probably not quite as powerful as Opeth, they are doubtless better and more interesting songwriters. Indeed, my recent scan through Opeth catalog left me overall unimpressed for this very reason, songwriting. Where Opeth tends to noodle around seemingly endlessly, Barren Earth sticks around for a little while and then quickly changes pace or climate before you act on the desire to skip to the next track. But no worries, you won’t get that desire with this album. The original riffs and melodies are bound to suck you in and, as with any great piece of music, the album gets better and tastier with every spin. I have only played it twice and am already seriously considering purchasing it. Needless to say, I am very impressed.