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Excellent release - 90%

defeatist, June 22nd, 2011

Barshasketh is a 2 man atmospheric black metal band from New Zealand - a country which has not produced much noteworthy black metal... until now! Barshasketh play a brand of black metal which is well constructed and remarkably melodic. The atmosphere that emanates from the music is quite dark and brooding, yet one feels as though there is a sense of optimism at it's core. This release is quite consistent throughout, although I feel as though there is a slight dip in quality in the middle of the album. Tracks like 'Imprisoned in Flesh', ' The Whisper Of Abyssal Winds' and 'Upon The Ashes Of The Betrayer' can easily withstand comparison to the work of the greatest names in atmospheric black metal. The main influences present here seem to be Cascadian and Canadian strains of black metal, although it is difficult to pin down Barshasketh's music as there is a density and layering of sounds that is seldom found in atmospheric black metal. The atmosphere is retained, but the stripped down approach is abandoned in favour of more involved orchestration, which seems to borrow from classical techniques such as counterpoint at times. The basic template used here is fairly standard, shying away from the use of keyboards in favour of a guitar-only set-up, which is probably wise as it preserves a certain rawness, which is a desirable trait for a black metal band in my view.

To conclude, I would like to recommend this release to all fans of black metal. The tinny nature of the recording may drive away less hardened listeners, but anyone who can make it past that obstacle will see that there is plenty of depth and substance to satisfy even the most discerning of black metal purists.