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Barren Earth - "Our Twilight" (CD/EP)

Barren Earth - "Our Twilight" CD/EP cover image

"Our Twilight" track listing:

1. Our Twilight (4:25)
2. Jewel (5:36)
3. Flame of Serenity (5:35)
4. Floodred (6:50)

Reviewed by on October 14, 2009

"Finland has done it again, giving the metal world another keyboard-rich progressive death metal act."

Finland has done it again, giving the metal world another keyboard-rich progressive death metal act. More than just an imitation group, Barren Earth is composed of veterans of the Finnish death metal scene that have been putting out quality music and defining new genre boundaries since the earliest days of extreme metal. The “Our Twilight” EP only gives a brief taste of Barren Earth’s proficiency across four tracks, but it’s more than enough to showcase what is undoubtedly going to become a new powerhouse in the arena.

The influences of each individual member’s previous bands can be clearly heard throughout the EP. The vocals on “Our Twilight” immediately bring to mind Swallow the Sun, which should come as no surprise as it features Swallow the Sun front man Mikko Kotomaki handling growling duties. Former Amorphis members Olli-Pekka Laine on bass and Kasper Mårtenson on keyboards give the clean and melodic aspects of the music the trademark vibe of their previous band. The line-up is rounded out by members of Moonsorrow and Kreator.

Whether Barren Earth is actually a “super group” depends on how much any particular fan loves Finnish death metal. Amorphis and Swallow the Sun fans should be salivating at the prospect of another high quality band in the same vein as those groups that is prepared to consistently put out new material. Death metal icon Dan Swano also makes an appearance on the album, providing keyboards for the track “The Flame of Serenity.”

Mikko Kotomaki's growls occasionally make the EP sound a bit too much like Swallow the Sun, but it’s a minor gripe. Despite the strong influences from previous work, the members of Barren Earth work together cooperatively to make a sound that is startlingly unique while still retaining a vestige of familiarity. “Our Twilight” can best be described as a dream “what if” project showing what happens when big name musicians come together to form a new project and try to create their own path.

Much like the latest Amorphis album “Skyforger,” there is a heavy emphasis on progressive and rocky elements and less care for how standard metal songs are supposed to be structured. Unlike that album Barren Earth is more consistently heavy, however, which makes the EP a must-have for fans who like progressive experimentation that doesn’t lose its brutal edge. Every now and again a few folk elements pop in the music as well, giving the disc a very well rounded feel. One of the most non-traditional moments occurs towards the end of the second track “Jewel,” as the psychedelic guitar work makes it clear why the band lists Pink Floyd as one of their influences.

The four songs on “Our Twilight” are really teasers to show what these musicians can do together. Several of the tracks will be included on the upcoming full-length album, which is expected to be released sometime in 2010. Fans of Finnish death metal who like progressive elements and an undercurrent of doom simply have no excuse not to check out Barren Earth.

Highs: Combines the trademark finnish death metal sound with elements of folk, prog, and doom.

Lows: Some parts are too much like Swallow the Sun.

Bottom line: Fans of Amorphis or Swallow the Sun need to hear this. Anyone who likes death metal with a progressive edge should make a point of checking it out as well.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)