Barren Altar
Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth

Oakland California’s Barren Altar have built quite a buzz with their unique style of funeral doom tinged black metal.  Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth is their first full length effort and is quite a memorable one at that.  Opening up with “Nexus of Grief” which starts off with a solo guitar line that builds into a second line added harmony and depth.   The guitars continue to build with percussion kicking in and the song feels as if it’s going to remain at a slower tempo.  The vocals kick in and all of the sudden stylistically it goes from funeral doom to black metal.  Having not been familiar with Barren Altar I went back and checked out some of their earlier Eps and this definitely sounds like quite the maturity in their sound.  I would think fans of Mournful Congregation and Skepticism would appreciate the funeral doom elements of this.

The track length varies throughout the forty three minute release.  Submerged the second track on the album is only two minutes and nineteen seconds and really is a bridge to the third track in that it is an instrumental.  The arpeggiated clean guitar lines provide some unique contrast to the opening track on Entrenched. “Call to the Waves” starts the huge middle section of this record.   It starts much like the track before in a continuing build. Once the drums and distorted guitars kick in Barren Altar have a unique sound that at times reminds of older Summoning.  Specifically the way the guitar parts and vocals work together. Maybe a bit more up tempo. Then at about four minutes into the song the floor drops out and you get sucked into a heavy, brooding vortex.  I got to hand it to these guys.   They put enough different hooks into their material where it does not stagnate and offers a pretty unique sound.

This is an unbelievably strong debut.  Earlier this year I reviewed a band from Oakland called Abstracter that I thought was quite unique as well.  Definitely a scene to continue to watch over the years to come.  “The Great Awakening of Death” opens quite heavy and then the layered guitar lines come in and there is the interestingly chaotic blend of sound coming out of this five piece.  For only being five years into their existence Barren Altar definitely sounds like a grizzled veteran with a comfort to their songwriting that is rather refreshing and interesting to listen to.  The production is really well done in this and I am quite excited to see what the future holds for this group.  Give it a spin and let it take you on a ride.  Well done Barren Altar.  Well done.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick K
September 18th, 2018

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