01. The Arrival
02. Avenues Of Manipulation
03. Holy. Dying. Lifting.
Sometimes you just have to chill out. Nothing soothes the soul like some good old fashioned down-tempo, heavy as balls metal. Lately, I’ve been really into the whole drone/doom/post-sludge thing, with bands like Boris, Sunn O))), Earth, dISEMBOWELMENT, etc. However, the one thing about the entire genre is the fact that you can only do so many things. Yes, there can be a lot done with guitars and such, but for the most part, its just all long, drawn out songs played over a drum beat that’s simply, refined, and has a BPM of anywhere from 50 to 100. It takes something really significant to stand out among a sea of other bands. Towards Darkness are a band that truly sticks out, and their second LP is definitely filled with many “special somethings”.
Adjectives can only do something so much justice, so three will sum up this record well enough: Towards Darkness’ Barren is BIG, LOUD, and HEAVY. One of the defining features about this record is to ease in and out of its transitions in such a fluid motion that the band makes it seems so simple to do. Clean guitar leads give way to thick distorted guitar sounds backed by some very ambient and moody synths that sound equivalent to the soundtrack of a movie where a character discovers some holy thing. In all honesty the best part about this album is the ability of each song to start and end in a relatively similar vein, but with a heavier sound and a much-needed back and forth of intensity and ambiance.
Not a second on this record is wasted meandering somewhere meaningless, either. It’s not like the four songs, which amount to roughly 55 minutes in length all together, are just pieces that could have parts tripped away and split into, say, eight or nine songs of shorter length. These songs need to be as long as they are for one reason: they were written to be that way. With most doom metal records, there seems to be a propensity to write a really long song, but throw some inadequate and unimportant sections throughout the middle, sometimes just for the sake of making a long song. Not on this album, as the bands rhythm section keeps the music driving forward, and the guitars ride alongside them with great ease. The vocals are also a very important aspect to the records overall experience specifically for the fact that you can feel the strain on his vocal cords, the heart and soul put into every last breath through
Over the course of four songs, this album does more than an album that has 14 songs at the same length. The album’s title, Barren, is really taken into account; everything from the artwork of a desolate desert somewhere to the sounds that emit from the speakers, you can’t get any closer to the definition of the word barren while still having music on the record. The album’s highlight in the hauntingly beautiful ‘Holy. Dying. Lifting.’ just screams excellence and while it maintains a steadily slow tempo, the sounds that are created are simply immaculate.
Barren is everything you would want out of a standard doom release. This record isn’t pushing any boundaries because, simply put, funeral doom has its limits. Simplicity aside, this record breaks necks and cashes checks. This record has grown from being a really good record to a record that has a lot of potential in my end of the year list. So for doom without frills, and with a whole lot of awesome, you know where to go.