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Barishi - Old Smoke

Old Smoke
by Martin Knap at 21 May 2020, 9:52 PM

BARISHI are three-piece from a small town in Vermont, that has debuted in 2013. The success of that album has secured a contract with Seasons of Mist for the band, both their sophomore album "Blood from the Lion's Mouth" (2016) and "Old Smoke" have been released by the French label. The band’s sound could be labeled as Progressive Sludge: the music is riff-driven and it the dense crunch and fuzz of bands like MASTODON or HIGH ON FIRE, but the compositions are broad, not hook-driven, but rather atmospheric. There are no big dynamic shifts or bold experimentation, but the combination of angular, noodly riffs and the dense, brooding atmosphere is captivating, the hypnotic grooves suck you in.

The opener “The Silent Circle” is a more then 10 minutes long twisting, claustrophobic beast of a song, it shifts between sections with a sinister angular riffs and chuggy riffage backed by a tension building drum beat. Things calm down in a relaxed, almost soothing section in the second half of the song. There is a nice interplay between the “relaxing” riffs introduced in the second half and the heavier, chugging riff in the final part of the song. The following track “Blood Aurora” is equally crushing and claustrophobic, but the repeating phrases with a fast drum beat that have an almost Death Metal-like harshness bring up the heaviness a notch.

“The Longhunter” is a six minute rager, it’s the shortest song on the album (that is not an instrumental), it combines groove and melodic intricacy very nicely and there are some brisk, Death Metal sections too. “Entombed in Gold Forever” is another dark, mid-tempo song with brooding atmospheric breaks and ominous buildups, but it features an insane guitar solo backed by blast beats, which hits super hard. The album closes with a dreamy thirteen minutes long title song, in which lulling, melancholic atmospheric breaks contrast with uplifting, almost cheerful sections. The contrast to the rest of the album is really stark – actually we do get a little respite during the instrumental “Cursus Ablaze”, but that’s just a moment for taking a breath before BARISHI dragg us down into their musical catacombs again – it’s like seeing the blue sky after a monsoon rian.

This is a well written and executed album that is very easy – at least for me – to like. The album can feel slightly monotonous in certain moments, but when you appreciate the details of the songwriting, it can’t bother you too much. And that would be my only reservation about this record, otherwise it’s very enjoyable and has high replay value. So kick back and let those sweet, heavy riffs and the bass's low-frequency rumble cascade over you.

Songwriting: 8
Memorability: 8
Musicianship: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. The Silent Circle
2. Blood Aurora
3. The Longhunter
4. Cursus Ablaze
5. Entombed in Gold Forever
6. Old Smoke         
Jonathan Kelley - Bass
Dylan Blake - Drums, Percussion
Graham Brooks - Guitars, Vocals
Record Label: Season of Mist


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