Barren Earth’s “On Lonely Towers,” Reviewed by Zachary S. Valladon

"On Lonely Towers," by Barren Earth
“On Lonely Towers,” by Barren Earth

This is the first record that I have ever heard by the Finnish six-piece, Barren Earth, but I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s like someone finally decided that turning the guitar distortion up to 11 isn’t necessary to make good metal. I mean, for fuck’s sake… it’s 2015, and the current state of metal would suggest that bands have forgotten what a riff is, or what music sounded like before it was 100% guttural noise. “On Lonely Towers” is a breath of fresh air from music that has had listeners’ faces thrust forcefully into the garbage man’s asshole for WAY too long. I can hear every plectrum with every note on this record, and what’s this? Is that actual singing?! Yeah, it is, and it’s fucking fantastic. The guitar- work in songs like “Howl,” “Frozen Processions,” and “On Lonely Towers” is profound in a very individual way. Where has this group been all of my life?

My current favorite off of this record is the final track, “The Vault” — it’s equal parts heavy, experimental, progressive and in some ways, reminiscent of Strawberry Alarm Clock/Thin Lizzy type bands. You can hear the organ absolutely soar in this track, which is an amazing feat in a death metal record. It IS a death metal record, right? I’m not sure how to peg this one, and I still can’t get the musical boner down, so I’m giving “On Lonely Towers” a solid 4.5/5.

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