My my, there’s a lot of talent in this band. With members from notable groups such as Amorphis, Moonsorrow, October Falls, and Kreator, as well as many others, you know this isn’t going to be a dud. Special note should also be made of the band’s singer; fresh from his role in the extremely impressive Hamferð, his performance on this album is just as luscious and rich as it is when he’s in his main band. Yes, he’s definitely one of the stars of this album and his vocals shine brightly.
He isn’t the only star here, of course. The music that wraps around the gorgeous vocals has a multitude of star qualities all of its own. Full of emotive melodies, intricate musicianship, progressive extravagance, and dark emotion, the songs on this album are well-written and have an infectious depth to them; they’re obviously catchy and have plenty of hooks, but there’s also a depth of substance here that will keep you returning to this album and prevents the songs from becoming stale.
The keyboards are a distinctive aspect of Barren Earth’s sound, providing an evocative extra layer to their affecting music. It’s important to note, however, that this instrument doesn’t stand apart from everything else, and is firmly embedded in the band’s sound. The keyboards also help to cement the 70s progressive rock influence that can be heard across the album, although this era is invoked in other areas of the music too.
The songs betray an obvious labour of love and passion, and it’s clear that time has been spent on this music with loving attention and care. This is one of the many reasons that A Complex of Cages is as enjoyable as it is; this music means something to the people that are creating it. This is not simply the latest Radio Friendly Unit Shifter to them, but something much more.
If you mix together various elements from Amorphis, Opeth, Scar Symmetry, and Nevermore, you’ll have a decent starting point for Barren Earth’s latest opus. A Complex of Cages is impressive, enjoyable, and very satisfying.