No historical investigation of the roots and evolution of Finnish black metal would be complete without a chapter on Barathrum. The band took shape in 1990, released their earliest demos the next year, and then churned out eight albums from 1995 through 2005, pursuing a musical course that changed over time but was persistently hellish and profane. Barathrum haven’t been completely silent in the 12 years since their last album, but it’s still fair to call their forthcoming ninth full-length a comeback record. Its name, fittingly, is Fanatiko, and it’s set for international release by Saturnal Records on April 28.
The first single from the album, “Hellspawn“, was released in February of this year. If you listen to it, you might make some immediate assumptions about what Fanatiko as a whole will sound like. And you would probably be wrong. Barathrum revealed many different dimensions of their sulphurous musical interests over the decade-long span of their first eight records before their extended hiatus, and Fanatiko ranges across many of them. Compelling proof of the diversity within the new album can be found by listening first to “Hellspawn” and then to the song we’re premiering today — “On the Dark River Bank“.
“Hellspawn” is the album opener. Just as the lyrics revel in the orgasmic delights of sadistic violence and degradation, the music revels in a big batch of burly riffs that activate the reptile part of the listener’s brain. The activation process begins immediately with a clanging, throbbing, rocking bass solo you can feel in your intestines, and the song just digs its hooks in deeper from there on. The nasty, acid-spewing vocals invite you to sing along, but those lethal riffs don’t really give you any choice — you’d have to be comatose not to move one or more parts of your body.
“Hellspawn” rocks damned hard, anchored by the band’s trademark dual-bass heaviness, and it’s highly addictive as well. But “On the Dark River Bank“, which comes third in the album’s running order, is a very different beast — a more occult, more atmospheric, and yet more vicious piece of black art.
An exotic melody (which involves the use of ritual bowls) slithers and soars right from the start of the song, which is mid-paced, ominous, and massively heavy, the grinding bass and booming drums vibrating every bone in the listener’s body. And while that’s going on, the vocals will put the hair up on your arms, eventually creating a cacophony that includes demonic howling, ghastly retching sounds, and sinister abrading chants. And then halfway through, the song begins to whip, rip, and slash like a cyclone of knives, all blasting drums, torrential riffing, and scalding vocal derangement. But that savage storm abates, heralding the return of the heaving, heavy rhythm and that magnetic, exotic melody from the song’s beginning.
A hell of a track, in more ways than one.
Barathrum recorded Fanatiko at Blackvox Studio, entirely on analog, as they did in their early albums. Did I mention that it’s produced in a way that makes it sound massively heavy? The album includes not only the infernal vocals of frontman Demonos Sova and his bandmates, but also many guest appearances. The album will be released by Saturnal on both CD and vinyl LP formats, along with related merch. For more info, visit these locations — and then listen to “On the Dark River Banl” and “Hellspawn” below.
2. Pope Corpse Tattoo
3. On The Dark River Bank
4. Sadistic Pleasure
5. Arx Satanas
6. Church Amok
7. Spirit of the Damned