posted on 12/2009 By:
Just when you thought 2009 was finally done burying you with quality releases, along comes Barren Earth. This Finnish supergroup draws from four highly respected bands: vocalist Mikko Kotamäki of Swallow the Sun, guitarist Janne Perttilä and drummer Marko Tarvonen of Moonsorrow, keysman Kasper Mårtenson and bassist Olli-Pekka Laine of Amorphis, and just to keep things interesting, guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö of Kreator. It’s surprising that so little buzz has cropped up around these dudes, especially in light of this little gem of a debut EP.
Given Barren Earth’s lineup, it’s hardly a surprise that Tales from a Thousand Lakes-era Amorphis is the prime point of reference on Our Twilight—the disc’s four tracks all bash along at a stern mid pace, relying on gravelly rhythm guitars to support Mikko Kotamäki’s prominent vox. But Kotamäki’s glottal roar and Mårtenson’s prog-inflected keys call to mind another band—the ever-underrated Edge of Sanity, and Crimson II in particular. Some of the similarity can be traced directly to EoS mastermind Dan Swanö’s influence, as he mixed Our Twilight in a manner very reminiscent of his band’s last album. As a result, Barren Earth have a slightly grittier death metal edge than most of their Finnish peers, despite their highly melodic songwriting.
Frankly, the high point here is Kotamäki’s performance—the guy deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Swanö, Mikael Akerfeldt, and Peter Tagtgren for savage growls and equally potent clean singing. But he would be lost without the band’s impressive songwriting—“Flames of Serenity” and “Floodred” especially are masterfully constructed examples of Finn-death songcraft. Tasty shredding from Perttilä and Yli-Sirniö adds extra flavor to an already impressive package.
Barren Earth have done a remarkable job of swimming upstream against melodic death metal’s growing irrelevance here—in my opinion, Our Twilight is one of the niche’s finest hours (er, twenty minutes-es) of the year. Hopefully this talented bunch will hang together and grace us with a full-length effort in the near future.
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