(On October 22nd Memento Mori will release Drowned, the debut album by the French band Barús, and in this post Andy Synn reviews the album and presents our premiere of a track from it named “Dissever“.)
It’s always gratifying to see a band you love grow and evolve, especially if it’s a band you’ve been into right from the very start.
Case in point, we’ve been fans of French Death Metal quartet Barús ever since the release of their self-titled EP back in 2015 (you can read more about that here) and I’m pleased to say that, despite having to wait over three full years, our patience is about to be richly rewarded with the advent of their long-gestating debut album, Drowned.
Now, as the album is set for release in only a few short days, this means that I don’t have to spend too much time talking about the specific details and directions of each song individually, as you’ll all be able to discover their many twists and turns and prodigiously heavy riffs for yourselves very soon, and can instead focus more on the overall flow and feel of the album as a whole.
The original touch-points I highlighted in my previous coverage of the band – Triptykon, Meshuggah, Gorguts – are all still relevant throughout the length and breadth of this record, with the music continuing to express a unique blend of angular, gut-churning riffage and ominous, oppressive atmosphere (just take a listen following the end of this review to weighty, wounded opener “Descry” for an immediate example) as well as an uncomfortable dose of both brooding melody and writhing dissonance (“Graze”).
But this time around the levels of aggression and unsettling discordance seem to have been ramped up a couple of notches, granting these songs a sense of pummelling, punishing heaviness and calculated, barely-controlled chaos reminiscent of Ulcerate at their most apocalyptic, making Drowned one incredibly intense, not to mention incredibly dense, listening experience for pretty much its entire run-time.
There are, however, a few carefully chosen moments where the quartet allow the almost asphyxiating atmosphere they generate to open up and breathe a little, exposing a calmer and more ambient side of the band than we’ve seen before, which stands in stark, dynamic contrast to the rest of the album’s practically overwhelming aura of soul-crushing intensity.
All of these elements are present, to a greater or lesser extent, on “Dissever”, the track which we’re pleased to be premiering today alongside this review, which serves in many ways as a microcosm of the whole record.
The booming riffs and pounding drums batter away at the listener’s ears with an almost physical, palpable force, offering no quarter and no escape, while the bellowing, raw-throated vocals continue to eschew the traditional death-growl in favour of a spiteful, sadistic snarl reminiscent of Tom G. Warrior at his darkest and most domineering.
Yet the song also incorporates a plethora of haunting, ambient undertones and humongous, doom-laden grooves into its bubbling cauldron of metallic mischief, resulting in a cruelly compelling concoction of ingredients which, when imbibed together, don’t truly sound like anyone else.
If there’s one (minor) potential flaw here it’s that, following the blast-fuelled fury of “Vitiate” and the unsettling ambient interlude of “Benumb”, the final leg of the album proves to be almost too demanding for its own good, particularly considering how physically and emotionally exhausted the listener is likely to be at this point, as the pairing of “Perpetrate” and “Forsake” (the record’s longest and most intricately arranged tracks) makes for one truly devastating, but undeniably draining, finale.
That being said, the ebb and flow of the album up to this point has been practically flawless, and perhaps this is exactly the band’s intent here, to leave their audience totally and utterly broken, in both mind and body, by the sheer, unyielding weight of these two tracks.
Make no mistake about it, this album is going to be held up as a true underground classic in the years to come, so you might as well jump on the wagon right now, just so you can say “I was into these guys before they became cool!”