Barren Altar – Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth (Review)

Barren AltarBarren Altar are a US blackened doom band and this is their debut album.

Well, this album just exudes apocalyptic vibes from every corrupted, malignant pore on its infected body. Sheesh. Better not get too close to this one.

There are some truly harrowing, end-of-the-world style moments on this release when it really does feel like something unnatural is about to come bursting from the speakers and destroy absolutely everything. In many ways this is mainly a function of the guitars themselves, as some of the riffs are really quite affecting.

Barren Altar mix their black and doom metal very well, with both aspects of the band’s delivery complementing each other and synchronising in a very mesmerising manner. Where does the black metal end and the doom begin? Of course, it’s not as straightforward as that, and Barren Altar’s music is a delightfully depraved hybrid style, making the most of both parent styles to create engaging, authentically grim music.

Taking influence from both old and new styles of black metal, these are given extra shape and substance by a healthy dose of dark, nihilistic doom. The doom part of the band has the despondent, desolate feel of funeral doom, while the black metal is as hateful and as vicious as anything out there. Merged together, the resulting 45 minutes on Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth is a highly engaging and compelling beast.

Melody is a vital component of the Barren Altar sound, although it’s not omnipresent. Colourfully lonesome and brightly depressive, while still retaining a lot of ugly graveyard dirt spread liberally over the top of everything, the songs on this album take the kind of melodic despondency associated with depressive black metal and funeral doom and drag them down into the uncaring earth. What happens to them next is probably best left unsaid.

This is a compelling and captivating slab of underground misery. Is it black metal? Is it doom metal? It’s both; covered in filth and the occult, Entrenched in the Faults of the Earth is a monstrous release.

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