Our fascination with Barshasketh began with the discovery of their remarkable 2015 album Ophidian Henosis, which in turn led to the exploration of their two preceding albums, 2013’s Sitra Achra and 2010’s Defying the Bonds of Cosmic Thraldom, and then carried us forward to their 2017 Sein/Zeit split with Poland’s Outre (which we premiered here). It was thus with a mixture of excitement and intrigue that we learned W.T.C. Productions would be releasing a new 54-minute Barshasketh album in January of next year — and that it would be self-titled.
Self-titled albums sometimes have a way of signaling a band’s re-birth, or of reaching a different kind of turning point in their progression. In this case, given the nature of the music on the album, it seems to represent not so much a re-invention of the band as it does a new zenith in what Barshasketh have achieved.
The band’s name, chosen by its creator Krigeist (who started the project as a solo effort in New Zealand and then assembled an impressive full line-up after moving to Scotland) is a derivation of Be’er Shachat, a term (we’re told) that “roughly translates as ‘Pit of Corruption,’ a multifaceted esoteric idea concerning the self existing in a cyclical process that goes through phases of destruction, purification, and ultimate adversarial rebirth.” And the new album, as suggested by its name, is conceptually centered on those ideas.
The first sign of what Barshasketh holds in store for all of us is the song you’re about to hear, the album’s opening track, named “Vacillation“. The significance of the title may become apparent to you when you hear it. The music channels feelings of tension, turmoil, violence, and unearthly splendor. It seems poised on the brink of destruction, but grasping toward visions of terrible transcendence. Or at least that’s how I hear it.
There’s an unmistakable connection to second-wave black metal in the music of Barshasketh, but as this new song vividly reveals, the band also reach beyond those traditions toward new (and extravagant) methods of expressing both frightening power and otherworldly mysticism. The song is both explosive and spectral — it sends the listener’s pulse racing, drives the head like a hammer, and spins the mind in a whirl.
There’s wildness and chaos in the sound — wild, pummeling drums (thanks to a blistering performance by MK); equally wild dissonant notes and boiling riffs; bloody, unhinged howls and shrieks. The riffing rises higher and higher, erupting like shining rays spearing through the dark and ominous undercurrents of the music. A bleak, wraithlike melody also rises up through the methodical percussive pounding and the frenetic bass lines, perhaps hinting at a new occult presence waiting to be embraced.
But you may discover different sensations when you listen. However you interpret the music, it’s unlikely to leave you as it found you. It’s the kind of track that ignites the imagination.
There’s much more to be discovered in the album as well — 7 more tracks and a lot more minutes of music (which were again recorded at Necromorbus Studio with Tore Stjerna). It’s going to be a great way to begin 2019.
For further info about the release — which will take place on January 15th and will take the form of digipack CD, double LP, cassette tape, and digital download — keep your eyes on the spaces linked below. The cover art and additional illustrations were created by Black Typography.
3. Consciousness I
4. Consciousness II
5. Ruin I
6. Ruin II