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Barathrum is back to the cellar of metal: grimy, mostly unwanted by the masses or even minor-masses, and a flawed companion to derelicts or outcasts (that entertaining, though demented friend you never told anyone about for fear of ridicule). This is overall dirtier, meaner and more against the grain than the last couple of full lengths, and is also a nod to their earlier period, sampling their prior tendencies on their first three albums and then adding a few minor twists. And even before you get a chance to hear this, give the anonymous person a hand shake who realized those upbeat and catchy riffs weren't working for them or even those nerve-grating choruses, and this is more of a last redeeming dark testament to that for the band.
The slow to mid-pace momentum is here as well as a faster oriented side that springs up throughout the span of the recordings. And they are capable of switching between speed changes without tripping over their own feet. The third track has a cool addition of slightly lowering the volume of his guitar as the band moves along in a plodding pace, then mid-way through the group switches it up to a faster oriented section and his guitar volume is raised, giving the change-over more "umph" and power; it was subtle but effective. It sounds like the drummer nearly reaches a point just before a blast beat, though snares usually get cut out when bands go faster, and he also uses pummeling double bass on occasion, masking it as well.
With the production being as soiled as it is, this sounds like organized cacophony: draping the instruments in effects, nearly shutting out light and playing with shadows on the walls. Essentially the massively distorted bass guitar fumes, sounding like it's powered by gasoline and smells just as piercing to the nose. On the fifth song ('G.I.D.'), it starts out with what sounds to be two distorted bass guitars playing different riff variations, the electric guitar strums and pauses, then eventually joins in, giving that section added dimension instead of just simply going right into it normally. The drum sound is more slurred than previously pronounced, but it gives it more added charm when it is speaking. It seems like they slightly tweak with the settings depending on the particular track. The second ('Corpse Desecration') and the eighth ('Crucifix Masturbation'), for instance, have the snare with a kind of echo or delay effect when the drums are playing slower—it literally makes his hits jump out. There are other examples with his double bass pedals, and if the song calls for more of their special appearances, the volume is slightly raised.
Sova is back showing that his many distasteful flavors of vocalizing are just as effective to get your nerves from settling down. His gnarled, variety-spewed vocals are treated with specific attention as well. Certain slower sections have massive effects drowning in its own filthy rasps, growls, shrieks and howls, and then during some faster sections it will be less drastic with effects since he might say more words in a shorter time frame. Overall, the band put care and attention to a certain mood here—not only sound-wise, but in their song writing too—where someone initially might just think that is the way it "turned out" by hitting the record button.
'Anno Aspera' is a worthy final wave from the band. It is back to Barathrum's dispiriting roots, and when they called it quits here, showed that the group still appreciated their brainsick beginning fan base. Even on the prior recordings when they tried to do catchy numbers that seemed a little too upbeat, they still mixed in those more "shadowy" aspects that were a lot closer to a pitch black darkness than simply a mild gesture to it—and now both feet are stepped in this time around. I wouldn't say that 'Anno Aspera' is a moment by moment call to greatness. It isn't chock-full of chest-grabbing surprises, they aren't exactly pulling weight with re-inventing the wheel. Though the band shuffles about worthwhile moments and delivers with consistent atmosphere and another side that brings about jerks of that head of yours. And it is right along the lines of checking off those fundamental aspects of metal listening, and even if it doesn't get all of them along the way, I can respect them for going out with a minor bang and stepping on a few more toes in the process than their last couple of recordings did.
According to all reliable sources, this is their last release as Barathrum have now split up as a band. I've never liked farewell albums that much. They always seem rushed through to meet the deadline, almost making you feel grateful the band split up. With Anno Aspera though, such is not the case.
From the intro to the last song, Barathrum shows us just how creative they can be. This album features a lot of different tempos & different styles. The intro is quite good. Multiple psychotic, eerie laughters fill your speakers, and you begin to feel a bit paranoid. Then, the opener "Corpse Desecration" kicks in. A very simple, but blackish riff starts, and then all the other instruments come along. The vocal patterns on this song are astounding. Demonos Sova has really put a lot of work into how the lyrics should be executed. He sounds more like a demon than before, like he would be suffering and shouting away the pain. Very good! The lyrics are quite obscene, but suitable for this release.
Some of the songs, like "Corpse Desecration" & "Mother of Christ" sound like they could have been written by Immortal in their early days (cirka Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism). This sort of black metal has not been heard in a very long time, and to be honest, I miss it. Chilling, eerie and cold riffs are the strength of this album. If I have to find any cons, I'd have to say I find the ultra-slow parts (like the beginning of "Into Maze of Nightmares") quite annoying at times.
There are a lot of songs that suffer from the fact that they will never be played live. It's a shame we'll never (apparently) get to see that. Goodbye Barathrum, thank you for some good times, and a hell of a final album. I strongly recommend this to all fans of old school black metal, as well as previous barathrum releases.