Every once and a while a label puts out a release that is contrary to the majority of their prior releases.  Such is the case with Memento Mori’s 2018 release of Grenoble France’s Barus full length debut Drowned.  For one, these guys are from the same hometown as Andre the Giant. Number two, when a band compares their sound to Ulcerate, Deathspell Omega, Gojira, Gorguts and Akercocke I am going to take an interest.

To say Barus play a meticulous form of progressive death metal would be an understatement. The opening track, “Descry” opens up with a riff that sounds like it could have come off of Morbid Angel Gateways of Annihilation with finishing tinges that reverberate with a dissonant glare.  What adds to the build of this track are the diverse vocals of “K”.  Apparently, all band members of Barus go by single letters. About two and a half minutes into this track it all of the sudden shifts styles for a moment and seems to go into almost a funeral doomish section and thus adding to the complexity of the song arrangement. About a minute after that we get a brief spoken word part into blistering black metal chord progressions and blast beats and then back into the opening riff section. Pretty cool how they rotate from style to style.

The production is spot on.  The guitar cuts very well for how heavy and all over the place they are at times.  The drumming of “A” is quite on point. The second track “Graze” opens up with a chugging bass line before spoken words and layered guitar enter the fray. This track has one of the catchiest riffs on the album right around the four-minute mark. I found myself almost headbanging through my computer monitor. The groove section then builds into a heavier blast section that then ties in the previous section. These arrangements are so well thought out and seem to get better from track to track as the album goes on. “Engorge” almost opens like a brutal death song.  Throughout the album vocalist “K” does a lot of what sound like Glenn Danzig banshee screams which are sporadic throughout the album.  One of the few gripes I have.  I guess it does add some “variety” but it is only minor nitpicking on my end. This same track has an acoustic section that sounds like it could have been written by Mike Patton.

“Amass”, is one of the shorter tracks on the record and also an instrumental.  The timing of it on the album is refreshing in it gives the ears a break from all of the chaotic arrangements. “Dissever” is one of the more brutal tracks on the album and has more of a death metal feel to it but still stays within the style of Barus. This album is well over fifty minutes and took the group almost a year to make. Barus is definitely a group that takes some time to get into the song arrangements as most of these songs seem to be five to seven minutes. This might be one of my biggest international surprises of 2018.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Nick K
November 2nd, 2018


  1. Commented by: GWW

    Barus is phenomenal. Check out the insanity that is the 4 Song EP! It predicts a major new Death Metal sound and power. Top Ten for me!

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