Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Barren Earth: Curse of the Red River (2010) Review

Barren Earth is a supergroup formed of members / former members of Amorphis, Swallow the Sun, Kreator, and more. Their first full-length, Curse of the Red River, was released recently. Decibel's review said it sounds like a mix of the styles of those groups. Before you go on, reflect for a moment on how absurd it is to say that anything sounds like a mix of Amorphis with just about any other kind of metal. Amorphis is a mix of nearly every kind of metal.

Regardless, they definitely do sound a lot like Elegy era Amorphis, the incarnation of the group when they achieved a balance between their melodic death metal origins and their later progressive leanings.

The songs are well-written and memorable, with notable highlights being the title track, "Flicker", and "Cold Earth Chamber". The production is tight as well, but the keyboards may be turned up a little too much in some spots.

The only member of the group I don't think fits is vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (of death/doom outfit Swallow the Sun). While his death growls work extremely well, his clean vocals tend to get overpowered by all the different things going on. And because they sound so much like Amorphis, it's tough not to make comparisons to Tomi Joutsen, who has a much stronger clean singing voice.

The Verdict: It's really a very good album, but it's tough to know exactly how to feel about it. There was already an Amorphis out there--do we really need another one?

Those who like the progressive direction Amorphis has taken will probably do better to leave this one alone. But those who like the old Amorphis better should be all over this one. I give Curse of the Red River 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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