Apr 022018


(The fourth album by Finland’s Barren Earth was releasd by Century Media on March 30, and TheMadIsraeli gives it a very positive review here.)


What IS metal exactly? Or rather, what is metal as expressed on a metaphysical level? I’ve always felt that metal is consistently the expression of the beauty, the angst, and maybe the anger that come with the nihilistic realities of life. This powerful music exists as a product of man’s attempts to transcend the complacent, but also to lash out at those who are comfortable with the mundane, or even worse, who seek to enslave or oppress others to maintain their mundane complacency and to satisfy their own whims. In a sense, life should ultimately be beautiful, and the truest anger and despair is directed at that which seeks to prevent, snuff out, or degrade that beauty however nebulous it may be.

Barren Earth have always been a band who’ve followed very intensely in the footsteps of one of my musical heroes, Dan Swanö. Their music is dedicated to a nihilistic fusion of past, present, and future metallic complexity and bite, ’70s progressive melodic ambitions, and a sense of despair and anger that seems timeless, future-bound forevermore. Continue reading »

Jan 232017


(As part of his continuing effort to make his NCS colleagues jealous, Andy Synn attended the performances of Insomnium, Barren Earth, and Wolfheart in Birmingham, England, on January 16, 2017, and files this tardy report.)

Last week I managed to snag myself a guestlist slot on the Birmingham date of the Insomnium/Barren Earth/Wolfheart tour. And a good time it was indeed.

But why has it taken so long for me to get this write-up together?

Laziness. Pure laziness. Or, you know, some other reason. Take your pick.

Either way, better late than never, right? Continue reading »

Mar 282015


I’m back at the NCS compound in the vicinity of Seattle after a month away from home, and it sure as hell was good to sleep in my own bed again last night, with the lice who know me instead of the strange ones inhabiting my hotel room mattress. I’d say they’ll miss me, but I probably brought a few of them home with me as hitchhikers.

Well, enough about me and my parasites. I found some videos that came out yesterday that I thought were cool. Without further ado, here they are, presented in alphabetical order; there’s also an exciting tour announcement in here:


A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of premiering a song named “Miscreants” by the Dutch death metal band Apophys (whose ranks include members of God Dethroned, Prostitute Disfigurement, Detonation, and Toxocara, among others). Their debut album Prime Incursion will be discharged by Metal Blade next month. And what I spied yesterday was the premiere on Gear Gods of a play-through video for another new song named “The Antidote”. According to the band,

“The song tells a story of humanity’s ultimate cure for itself, a final solution as people start to transform into beings that are focused on nothing other than consumption. This gives it a twist one could see relevant to our current society. Eventually the urge to consume backfires resulting in humanity consuming itself and thus, providing the answer to the final problem; us.” Continue reading »

Oct 162012

Let’s start this day at NCS with a contrast — two new songs from forthcoming albums that are on opposite ends of the speed spectrum. The first comes from a new Finnish band — Kuolemanlaakso — whose members include some names I’m pretty sure most of you will recognize. The second is from a new release by a French band — Destinity — whose last album I really liked and whose new one is also sounding excellent.


This band’s Finnish name means “Death Valley”. It began as a one-man project of guitarist Markus Laakso (Chaosweaver). After recording a handful of demo tracks, he recruited a group of additional musicians to flesh out the band:  vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun, Barren Earth), guitarist Savon Surma (“Kouta”) (Chaosweaver, ex-Verjnuarmu), bassist Tuomo Räisänen (“Usva”) (Elenium, The Nibiruan), and drummer Toni Ronkainen (“Tiera”) (Discard, Cult of Endtime).

Together they recorded an album at Woodshed Studio in Germany with V. Santura of Triptykon and Dark Fortress fame, who also mixed and mastered the music. The album is named Uljas uusi maailma (“Brave New World”) and it’s now scheduled for release by Svart Records on November 23. The cover art by Maahy Abdul Muhsin is a real eye-catcher — it’s right after the jump. Continue reading »

Aug 032012

(DGR has been on a reviewing tear lately. In today’s installment, he breaks down the latest album by Barren Earth, which was released earlier this year on the Peaceville label)

My story with Barren Earth is pretty goddamn simple, but I feel that it needs to be told…if for no other reason than to explain why I suddenly seem so excited about a relatively ‘new’ band.

Barren Earth had been under way and gathering some steam, but it wasn’t until Scott (EvilLive, proprietor of Hookinmouth.net, currently writing for ThatDevilMusic) reviewed the group’s Curse Of The Red River release on TheNumberOfTheBlog and gave it the almost-never-used perfect score that I gave it a listen.

It impressed the hell out of me. I wasn’t aware they were a superstar side-project group of various doom and goth artists who had decided to do something a little closer to progressive death metal, with the occasional folk aspect and something a little bit retro-sounding, so the band came as a pleasant surprise. They are one of the few groups who can break out the 70’s-styled synths and keyboard sounds without sounding overtly cheesy. They also delved into some heavy, heavy stuff, too.

Less of a surprise when I heard the album and figured out that it was Mikko Kotamäki on the main vocals. The guy is almost instantly recognizable, and his participation in Barren Earth may have been part of why it took me so goddamn long to get around to this review. He is also the vocalist for Swallow The Sun, and their 2012 release (reviewed here), like this one, is incredibly long; it felt like I was overdosing a little. No fault of the album though. The tandem of new releases just affects the specific niche of people like myself who may have made the idiotic mistake of listening to both bands’ albums while attempting to stammer out some sort of review for both of them in close proximity. Some gentlemen from Amorphis and Moonsorrow have also been in Barren Earth for some time, handling backing vocals along with guitars and such.

Curse Of The Red River hit in 2010, so the release of The Devil’s Resolve just two years later, even with some production delays, and being of equal quality, has been fantastic. Also, just a heads up: This review is for the edition of The Devil’s Resolve that came with two extra songs. With some bands, you can usually skip out on the bonus tracks, and with some you shouldn’t. If you really like Barren Earth, you’re potentially giving up ten-plus minutes between these two songs. So if you have the regular edition, you should see if you can find those two on Itunes or elsewhere.  Continue reading »

Mar 022012

I really liked The Curse of the Red River, the 2010 debut album from Finland’s Barren Earth. I had high expectations for that album because the members of Barren Earth include such Finnish metal veterans as vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun), Olli-Pekka Laine on bass (Ex-AmorphisMannhai), drummer Marko Tarvonen (Moonsorrow)
, and Kreator guitarist Sami Ylisirniö.

With such a strong debut, I’ve had even higher expectation for the band’s second album, The Devil’s Resolve, which is scheduled for release on March 13 in North America (via Peaceville Records). It was mixed by Dan Swanö, it features cover art by Paul Romano, and it includes guest appearances by Mathias Lillmåns (Finntroll) and Jaakko Lemmetty (Korpiklaani). Based on an initial listen to The Devil’s Resolve, I’d say my expectations have been satisfied once again.

In an earlier post, we told you about a chance to download a song from the album called “The Rain Begins”, and as of today the band have now released an official video for the song. The song itself is immensely memorable, with a dramatic, piercing melody delivered by keyboard and guitar that easily takes up residence in your mind. It’s a melodic blend of doom and death marked by Kotamäki’s contrasting clean and harsh vocals.

But the video is almost as fun to watch as the music is to hear. Rather than try to explain why, I’ll just let you see it for yourselves . . . after the jump. (And unlike the song from Spawn of Possession featured in our last post, the lyrics to this song matter, and they’re wonderful.) Continue reading »

Jan 252012

The Curse of the Red River, the 2010 debut album from Finland’s Barren Earth, made quite the splash. That didn’t come as a huge shock, given that the band’s line-up is a collection of veterans of the Finnish metal wars, including vocalist Mikko Kotamäki (Swallow the Sun), Olli-Pekka Laine on bass (Ex-Amorphis, Mannhai), drummer Marko Tarvonen (Moonsorrow)
, and Kreator guitarist Sami Ylisirniö.

On March 13, Peaceville Records will release the band’s second album, The Devil’s Resolve, in North America. It was mixed by Dan Swanö (Opeth/Katatonia) at Unisound in Sweden, it features cover art by Paul Romano (whose work graces the covers of albums by Mastodon and a jillion other metal bands), and it includes guest vocals by Mathias Lillmåns (Finntroll) and . . . bagpipes! (courtesy of Jaakko Lemmetty from Korpiklaani).  (Nice timing, given our piece on bagpipe metal earlier today.)

So far so good — but there’s more. According to a press release, the music on the new album will cross through a variety of musical landscapes, ranging from brutal death metal to progressive and acoustic passages and sweeping melodies. You can get a taste of this via a montage of the album’s songs that Peaceville is now streaming on SoundCloud (and that we’re streaming right after the jump). And in exchange for your e-mail address, you can get a free download of a track from the album called “The Rains Begin”. Continue reading »

Jun 022011

Damn, I’m finally able to go outside without shivering and being beaten about the head and shoulders with high winds and rain blowing sideways. That must mean it’s June in Seattle!  And so it is. A largely dismal May is behind us, the Seattle Mariners are astonishingly only a game and a half out of first place in their division (that’s baseball for you outlanders), and the summer lies ahead.

What else lies ahead? A bunch of new metal, of course. And because it’s the beginning of a new month, we’re bringing you another installment of METAL IN THE FORGE, in which we collect news blurbs and press releases we’ve seen over the last month about forthcoming new albums from bands we know and like (including occasional updates about releases we’ve included in previous installments of this series), or from bands that look interesting, even though we don’t know their music yet. In this series, we cut and paste those announcements and compile them in alphabetical order.

Remember — this isn’t a cumulative list. If we found out about a new album during April or preceding months, we wrote about them in previous installments of this series. So, be sure to check the Category link called “Forthcoming Albums” on the right side of this page to see forecasted releases we reported earlier. This month’s list begins right after the jump. Look for your favorite bands, or get intrigued about some new ones. Continue reading »

Feb 032011

I can justly be accused of being enthusiastic about almost everything. That may not be the most metal of outlooks, especially when my enthusiasm turns out to be misplaced, or cools after a little calm reflection; I do lose my bearings sometimes.

But, with all those caveats out of the way, I have to tell you, right now, about a song I just heard.

On the way to my fucking day job this morning, I started listening to the brand new album from Finland’s Alghazanth, which is called Vinum Intus. I wasn’t familiar with this band until we started that Finland Tribute Week thing, and one of our readers (CarlSK) recommended them in a comment, noting that the band’s vocalist is Mikko Kotamäki, who also fronts Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth.

I only got two songs into this new album and then stopped and started replaying that second song. The way I feel right now, this beautiful song is blowing out of the water almost all the other new black metal releases I’ve yet heard in 2011.  (more after the jump . . . including the song) Continue reading »

Jan 102011

No, we’re not re-starting our seemingly endless series on Finnish metal. This is just a heads-up that the second installment of THE FINNISH METAL TOUR is on the horizon. The first installment last year was one of the best shows we saw in 2010, and the next one is already causing near-sexual forms of arousal here at NCS.

Okay, maybe that was too much information. Let’s just say we’re looking forward to the new tour and leave it at that.

Here’s the arousing line-up: FinntrollEnsiferum, Barren Earth, and Rotten Sound.

Up above is a video trailer for the tour hosted by keyboardist Kasper Mårtenson (ex-Amorphis) and guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö (Kreator) of Barren Earth. And in case your eyes cross as you try to read the dates and places as they scroll across the bottom of the video, we’ve got the full schedule after the jump.

Be still my beating . . . heart. Continue reading »