(Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Barishi from Vermont.)
It was April of last year when I first stumbled upon the self-titled debut by these Prog-Metal ne’er do wells, and by that point their debut was already over four months old. If you’ve read my review (here), you’ll know that I was very much entranced by their unapologetic weirdness and aggressively schizophonic sound, drawing comparisons, at various points, to bands like Intronaut and Poison The Well (amongst others), in an attempt to accurately characterise and situate their cunningly kaleidoscopic Prog-Metal/Hardcore fusion.
So imagine my surprise upon discovering that the band have just released a follow-up in the form of the Endless Howl EP, along with my pleasure when I realised that this time at least, I wouldn’t be so far behind the curve in reviewing it!
Short, sharp, and savage, Endless Howl is a propulsive listen, which pares back some of the proggy psychedelia found on their debut, while retaining a welcome dose of nervous energy and frantic unpredictability.
The heavy, angular introduction to “In The Hour Of The Wolf” whirls into view like a dervish of jagged, scraping riffage and spiralling, sputtering drum work, cresting here and there in moments of strangely compelling harmony (particularly during the hooky, swaying chorus), building to a mid-section that juxtaposes touches of jangling, blissed-out melody with some suitably gnarly, guttural vocals, followed by a surprisingly focussed, blasting finale.
The twitchy, stop-start guitars that begin “Smoke From The Earth” turn out to be a bit of a fake-out, as the song switches track soon after into something much more fluid and expressive… although this turns out to be a second feint as well, as it suddenly shifts gears once more into something more up-tempo and unexpectedly melodic, drums and guitars both galloping away beneath a series of fevered, cathartic screams.
The title-track is centred around one fantastically catchy, irresistibly headbangable Prog-Metal riff, which thematically reoccurs and carries the song with its razor-sharp central hook and punch-drunk bombast, powered by some punishingly precise, lethally locked-in drum work and a caustic cacophony of seething vocal ferocity.
The final track, “Snakeboat”, takes a different tack than its predecessors, its taut, minimalist drum work introducing the song on the back of a rising tide of darkly dolorous Doom riffage and grim, gastro-intestinal growls. Yet almost without warning, it suddenly erupts into something much faster and far more aggressive, drums and guitars both battering away, hell for leather, in a frenzy of expulsive fury while the vocals screech and spasm through their own series of violent contortions, building towards critical mass only to burn-out unexpectedly beneath waves of guttering, doomy atmosphere.
While it’s definitely a more stripped-down and Spartan affair than their debut, ramping up the aggression and dissonant distortion in the process, it’s safe to say that Endless Howl still manages to pack in more than a few surprises in its taut 18 minutes.
Endless Howl is on Bandcamp — the stream is below, along with a video for “Smoke From the Earth”.