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Barbarian - To No God Shall I Kneel

To No God Shall I Kneel
by Sean McGuirk at 25 June 2019, 6:08 AM

Italy’s BARBARIAN plays an archaic form of battle metal that the group has coined “Obtuse Metal” in the opening track of “To No God Shall I Kneel,” their fourth full-length that sees the band plunging deeper into the crypts of the old school. The band has replaced their rhythm section, adding bassist Blackstuff and drummer Sledgehammer to the ranks who – true to their names – add a throbbing sonic attitude that the band was lacking on previous outings. On those albums, you feel the band trying to grasp onto a throwback sound with an almost ironic approach, but that irony is shed here, replaced with an earnestness and ambition toward annihilating the posers of the scene.

“Obtuse Metal” is a statement, that these guys aren’t playing by anyone’s rules – their sound is distinctly feral with no allegiances.  The song has a charging hardcore beat and blackened gang chorus that feels simultaneously old and new. These guys dig deep in the treasure chest of one of my favorite bands, RUNNING WILD, pulling out songs like “Birth and Death of Rish’ah,” and “Hope Annihilator,” that are replete with militant pageantry and vocal melodies delivered with the darkened panache of Rock-n-Rolf on his earliest recordings. Grifting from those metal pirates also serves the album thematically, as the album is a declaration of musical independence, heard clearly on “Sheep Shall Obey” and the glorious title track. Akin to bands like CIRITH UNGOL or MANOWAR, it’s all about the attitude and crowd participation here. “The Old Worship of Pain” is a meandering sometimes-ballad, that recalls those mighty New Yorkers, while “To No God Shall I Kneel,” is a perfect album-and-show-closer that would get even the most hardened metal warrior to sing along.

The production of this power trio gives great weight to the bottom end, with Blackstuff’s distorted bass tone clearly audible on all tracks. Sledgehammer’s drums standout with some huge reverb that adds heft. Borys Crossburn’s riffs are sparse and epic with some grandiose open chords and palm-muted Power Metal runs thrown in when needed. It’s rewarding to see a metal band come into full form with the confidence displayed on this disc. They’ve planted the flag with a glorious rally cry and a horde of original, well-constructed battle songs at their disposal. If you’re looking for pretty melodies and AMON AMARTH theatrics, there is thankfully very little here, just molten globs of darkened proto-metal. Obtuse Metal!

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Obtuse Metal
2. Birth and Death of Rish'Ah
3. Hope Annihilator
4. Sheep Shall Obey
5. The Beast is Unleashed
6. The Old Worship of Pain
7. To No God Shall I Kneel
Borys Crossburn – Guitar, Vocals
Blackstuff - Bass
Sledgehammer - Drums
Record Label: Hells Headbangers


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