Friday, March 18, 2016

Album Review: "Cult of the Empty Grave" by Barbarian

Cult of the Empty Grave
This past week in my house it's been a little rough.

Both my wife and daughter have been sick and stayed home from work. I had to suffer through a Tori Amos LP. The cats are not behaving at all and by "the cats," I mean a certain polydactl mudblood kitty that is neither mine nor my daughter's cat.

Our cats behave like champs.

Even when things aren't going swimmingly in my personal universe, it always feels like a breath of fresh air to cross the threshold into our 115 plus year old house.

That's because it's my home. Be it playing video games in the living room, listening to hockey games on the sunporch, cooking in my kitchen, or listening to records in our sitting room, I feel like I have always been there, even if it's only been eight of the 40 years I've been walking this earth.

Barbarian is from the boot shaped country of Italy.

Italian Death Metal has yet to create a scene, but there's enough of a subtle difference here to create a distinction.

The vocals are semi-decipherable similar to one David Vincent's and they're in English.

The bass player demonstrates some of the strong songwriting and galloping basslines of one Steve Harris.

Not only the playing, but the tone is the best heard by these ears since Harris's own seminal Number of the Beast. The strings have that delightful metallic sound during the gallops. Perfection.

The drums sound like they were recorded in 1967. They're warm and full. What's even more the same drum beat isn't repeated over and over like Pete "Commando" Sandoval did on the seminal Covenant. So rarely does death metal allow the drummer to mix it up.

This is a modern take on vintage death metal with an irrepressible bassist. Why even bother to have a bass player if you tune down to Dropped B anyway? (Amirite?)

This is the kind of death metal I seek out. It's heavy without feeling like we're in a Cold War Arms Race. It's dynamic but maintains the groove. It's got some speedy moments, but doesn't sacrifice some slowing down to add some much needed variety.

The guitar riffs and solos are death metal defined. Many bands in 2016 would take these riffs and play them at about 400bpm and lose the flavor.

Barbarian stays true to the genre without coloring by the numbers. This is the type of metal that makes me feel at home and it's going into my vinyl collection. It's that good.

Release: 4/15/16
Genre: Death Metal
Label: Hell's Headbangers

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