The Curse Of The Red River review by Barren Earth

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  • Released: Apr 6, 2010
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (21 votes)
Barren Earth: The Curse Of The Red River
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Sound — 8
After getting a taste of things to come with Barren Earth's EP Our Twilight, it was difficult to imagine how Finnish death metal outfit could pack their full-length with even more epic material than what had already been heard. But lo and behold, The Curse of the Red River delivers in full. With a team of heavy players including the likes of Kreator/Waltari guitarist Sami Yli-Sirni, Swallow The Sun vocalist Mikko Kotamki, and Moonsorrow drummer Marko Tarvonen, Barren Earth have taken their varied background to pretty much master the art of heaviness. The sextet's sound certainly gives a nod to a variety of death metal bands, but you'll also hear tinges of Opeth, Pink Floyd, and prog-metal in the mix. Starting off the CD is the title track, an introductory song that takes its time building in intensity. Rather than explode with a barrage of double bass pedal or warped-speed lead work, Barren Earth opt for a slow, heavy first few moments that eventually delivers a big payoff. Guitarists Yli-Sirni and Janne Perttil integrate creative uses for pinch harmonics during the verse, which are actually standout moments within the song. Just when you think you have an idea of what the remaining structure of the song will resemble, the band channels its Jethro Tull tendencies and brings out the flute. This surprising turn is fairly representative for The Curse of the Red River, which is consistently an engaging listen. The band wisely balances between clean and death vocals, with the bulk of the songs featuring memorable choruses that you'll likely find yourself humming (particularly Our Twilight) after one or two listens. Cold Earth Chamber creates yet another interesting vocal diversion with a spoken-word portion. The audio mix tends to keep all the vocals toned down, and in the end it is the instrumentation that comes to the forefront. Cinematic is the word that does keep coming to mind while listening to The Curse of the Red River, primarily because there are so many musical paths that Barren Earth takes. They prove their musical chops time and time again throughout the CD, whether it is via a flute or a stripped-down section with only a classical acoustic and piano (Flicker). The arrangements aren't built to sound like any particular genre and don't ever reach the kind of speed that will appeal to some avid metal fans out there, but their mish-mesh of genres should likely appeal to a wider audience in the long run.

Lyrics — 8
As was mentioned in a previous review for the EP Our Twilight, Barren Earth's lyrical content shares the same epic approach that the music takes. There's a certain doomsday vibe to many of the themes, but they don't necessarily rely on your typical rhyme scheme. The free verse form that the band does use is poetic in nature and works well, particularly considering the music isn't confined by any traditional structure, either.

Overall Impression — 9
The prog-metal nature of The Curse of the Red River in many ways overshadows the death metal label often applied to Barren Earth. There is undeniable talent among the six musicians, and it's fascinating to hear a lithesome flute in one moment, a Dream Theater-esque keyboard solo in another, and doomsday riffage in the next. Again, it may lack some of the speed or vocal intensity that drives other traditional metal bands out there, but Barren Earth's impressive, textured arrangements don't leave you disappointed.

22 comments sorted by best / new / date

    rob904
    henkka_potku wrote: A tad boring but enjoyable.
    I thought the same thing at first as well, but after a second listen my opinion changed
    ewp805
    Jethro Tull? Pink Floyd? Progressive/Death metal? Sign me up.
    travislausch
    Deathmethod wrote: travislausch wrote: I didn't like the harsh vocals. But everything else about this is brilliant. That doesn't make a lot of sense considering they listed "Death Metal" under the genres, but they are very musically talented.
    I don't see how I can't dislike the vocals of a death metal band but like everything else. Also when compared to other death metal vocalists I hear, he just doesn't match up.
    Disturbdkornkid
    I got the EP and it was awesome, some of the songs started to get a little boring after a bit but I still love the song Floodred, I'm definitely gonna have to check out this album.
    Astyan
    Unexpectedly good release. It sounds oddly familiar without feeling clich at all, and there are a lot of inspired parts throughout the whole album.
    Deathmethod
    travislausch wrote: I didn't like the harsh vocals. But everything else about this is brilliant.
    That doesn't make a lot of sense considering they listed "Death Metal" under the genres, but they are very musically talented.
    dguruishtar
    Checked out their title track so far and it is brilliant. Good review, nailed their sound perfectly. It's like listening to an opeth, floyd and dt collaboration.
    User_Name336
    there's a full length album listen thing on aol music. just google it and you'll find it. i just finished listening and i am DEFINATELY picking this album up tomorrow. i'm not one to buy metal albums new (because of the outrageous price) -only used ones for me - but i'll make an exception for this one. from beginning to end, it blew me away with catchy melodies and creative uses of all the instruments.
    BlackSymphony6
    ingames wrote: Anyone notice how similar the cover art is to Still Life?
    In that it's red? other than that, no.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Sounds like a brilliant band. I like Kreator's music a lot; I'll have to check out what Sami Yli-Sirni did on this album. Hmm...definitely gonna look into this.
    ingames
    Congratulations for the review. Anyone notice how similar the cover art is to Still Life?
    Human371
    dguruishtar wrote: Checked out their title track so far and it is brilliant. Good review, nailed their sound perfectly. It's like listening to an opeth, floyd and dt collaboration.
    This caught my interest. ive been looking everywhere for a band like this
    Jon777
    Absolutely amazing. The vocals could have been better, but everything else is great.