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This band is unknown to most including myself up until about a month ago. Hailing from New Zealand it's no surprise that nobody has ever heard of them. I was quite impressed by their first album and even more so by this, their second release. This is the type of album that needs to be listened to in it's entirety because it is not just a collection of songs, but more of a full experience where every song complements or builds upon the last.
Barshasketh plays a refreshingly unique style of black metal that is constantly changing, yet still fits and flows together as a dark atmospheric presence without sounding chaotic. There is so much going on in this album that it is hard to remember individual riffs or songs, but this is a good thing. This CD will get quite a lot of spins because you will hear or notice something different with every listen.
As with most black metal, the guitars are the main focus on this album and they are played with great precision. There is often one guitar playing a higher tremelo picked riff that has a clear metallic sound to it while the other guitar is playing a lower more standard sounding black metal riff. The sound of the guitars is quite thick and layered, at some points it sounds like there are 3 guitars instead of 2. They do an excellent job of creating a haunting atmosphere with a touch of melody and aggression. Overall the guitar work on this album is very unique and technical, there are even a few parts that could be considered guitar solos. This is not an easy style to pull off without sounding like a lot of noisy chaos, but Barshasketh pull it off and excel at it.
The drumming is a great compliment to the guitar work and played with just as much precision and technique. Between full out blasting to fast pounding double bass to a few slower parts the drums serve their purpose to carry the music along and add that extra layer of punch. There are plenty of fills and variations that fit perfectly with the ever changing guitar riffs. The drums are a bit lower in the mix, but completely audible and clear so they are not overpowering or underwhelming, but just right.
The bass guitar is there, but on my first listen I didn't notice it doing anything out of the ordinary. I'm sure it adds to the thick layered overall sound of the album and adds that extra heaviness to the great guitar riffs.
The vocals definitely take the background on this album which I think was a good call. Only a little louder than a harsh whisper in the background, the vocals can be heard no problem, but they are more of a supporting instrument to the darkness than something to focus on.
Overall this album is played and produced perfectly. I believe the band achieved exactly what they wanted with this release. I highly recommend this band to any black metal fan.