Vera : With the inception of Barren Earth in 2007, huge expectations were created in the metal scène, since (ex) musicians from Amorphis, Moonsorrow, Kreator, Waltari and the vocalist of Swallow The Sun united under this moniker. The EP ’Our Twilight’ (2009) made our mouths water, next the Finns were swamped with superlatives when ’Curse Of The Red River’ (2010) and ’The Devil’s Resolve’ (2012) saw the light of day. Unfortunately the band did not play often live, but the undersigned was lucky to see them on stage at Brutal Assault and Summer Breeze (right within a week in 2010). Consequently we were a bit worried when hearing about the departure of vocalist Mikko Kotamäki and their hunt for another singer. Fortunately this problem is solved now and the band makes a proper new start with a new singer, a new label and a really amazing innovative sound.
On ‘On Lonely Towers’ Barren Earth showcases a remarkable progression in infiltrating progressive influences in their melancholic doom/death metal. With the recruitment of new vocalist Jón Aldárá they took the opportunity to write very challenging, mostly lengthy, compositions around his multilateral voice. It results in a record that is less easy to fathom, but finally we are rewarded for our perseverance with seven mighty pieces of top notch art. The successor of Mikko Kotamäki is native of the Faeroe Islands. Those who once saw the band Hamferð live as support of Týr can conceive something. The guy has a rolling grunt, but he also stands out in momentous, sometimes nearly operatic vocals. We thought of Noekk from time to time and in the enchanting title track even of Scott Walker. The album – having a loosely concept about a wounded hunter and a girl who ran away from home – has an agreeable flow with a serene intro and firstly some shorter songs. ‘Howl’ is quite heavy with its intermittent chants and a fervent acceleration that passes into a guitar solo. ‘Frozen Processions’ is the catchiest track, in which we can hear Amorphis influences in the music, while the heartfelt vocals remind a bit of Dan Swanö. With two (ex)members of Amorphis (and Moonsorrow) in their ranks that’s not so odd.
Yet this six-piece happens to be most brilliant in the detailed crafted long compositions. For instance ‘Set Alight’, that captivates from start to finish with a pure progressive outburst with solos on keyboards and guitars in the middle. Keyboardist Kasper Mårtenson got a more prominent role, his skills on Hammond might be called legendary by now. Other amazing examples of an introvert beginning with contemplative vocals towards instrumental experiments to lick one’s chops are the title track and occluding song ‘The Vault’; both good for eleven minutes progressive extravagant highlights. This album, recorded with Petri Majuri at the Finnvox Studios and mastered at Swedish Fascination Street Studio, leaves us in awe and speechless. Who expected such a progression, at this level? Epoch-making, original and daring!