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Barren Earth - "The Devil's Resolve" (CD)

Barren Earth - "The Devil's Resolve" CD cover image

"The Devil's Resolve" track listing:

1. Passing Of The Crimson Shadows (7:17)
2. The Rains Begin (4:55)
3. Vintage Warlords (4:32)
4. As It Is Written (7:29)
5. The Dead Exiles (6:21)
6. Oriental Pyre (5:18)
7. White Fields (4:59)
8. Where All Stories End (5:55)

Reviewed by on February 29, 2012

"'The Devil’s Resolve' is not a massive jump from the last album, but works on tightening up the prog elements and forming better chemistry between the six musicians."

Members from bands including Kreator, Moonsorrow, and Swallow The Sun gather under the name Barren Earth yet again for a second album, “The Devil’s Resolve.” Their debut record, “Curse Of The Red River,” was a quaint surprise for death metal fans, with its proggy tone and lack of traditional structure. “The Devil’s Resolve” is not a massive jump from the last album, but works on tightening up the prog elements and forming better chemistry between the six musicians.

Where Barren Earth makes big strides is in the influences of the keyboards on fleshing out the ‘70s vibe, and how the band interacts with these sounds. This is not some reckless death metal band deciding to get all artsy and progressive by throwing a few keyboard notes in a song, but a focused unit that doesn’t overwhelm one another. “As It Is Written” is predominately driven by guitars for the first half, until the keyboards squeal in and lead the song down into a smoky instrumental jam to finish off.

Make no mistake; this is still a death metal album, though with its head in a melodic state. Flashes of acoustic guitars and passionate clean vocals from the reliable Mikko Kotamaki don’t snub out the blazing riffs and thumping blasts of drums. Kotamaki’s blistery growls make anything he says twice as evil, and he gets a lot of mileage with them on the agonizing “The Dead Exiles.” This doom-centric number segues into a noisy bash-a-thon, keeping in line with the dynamics explored throughout “The Devil’s Resolve.”

Like the band's first album, “The Devil’s Resolve” is not predictable in the way the songs are constructed. There are many unexpected avenues these songs tread on, with frequent acoustic breaks and peaceful keyboard passages to break up any formulaic songwriting. Fans of Swallow The Sun will see similarities to Barren Earth’s music, but just because Kotamaki is involved doesn’t make this a retread. Swallow The Sun couldn’t pull off the catchy swing of “The Rains Begin” or the lulling beauty of closer “Where All Stories End.”

That’s really one of the best compliment a person can bestow upon “The Devil’s Resolve”; it can’t be compared to any of the member’s other projects. Often times, members from other bands that get together for a project have their other bands wear off on the new one to the point where the differences becomes cloudier. Barren Earth is able to skirt this by making the progressive style gel with the death metal, like if Deep Purple blasted too much At The Gates on the way to the recording studio. “The Devil’s Resolve” is just as stellar as “Curse Of The Red River,” and is proof that Barren Earth is far more than just an unoriginal side-project.

Highs: Builds upon the highlights of the last album, Mikko Kotamaki puts in another inspired vocal performance, the '70s influences brought in from the keyboards

Lows: Not a huge leap forward from their debut album

Bottom line: Another stellar album from Barren Earth that shows this side-project has a lot of value behind it for the six musicians involved.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)