Barren Earth
Curse of the Red River


3.5
great

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
April 10th, 2010 | 148 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This progressive death/doom supergroup are slowly finding their own sound, but early Amorphis is still an obvious influence.

Barren Earth’s Our Twilight EP was a good collection of proggy doom/death tunes, but it wasn’t anything special. In the end it was too bogged down by overly simplistic nods to Thousand Lakes-era Amorphis, average clean vocals, and a lack of original ideas to be anything more than run-of-the-mill. In fact, for most people the main appeal of the band was in the fact that it contained ex-members of Amorphis as well as current members of Swallow the Sun, Kreator and Moonsorrow. Time has shown, though, that supergroups can’t survive forever on star-power alone, and thankfully the band realized this. While the EP was simply Amorphis-worship with a slight twist, Curse of the Red River is the sound of a band more effectively trying to find their own niche while still using their influences as a starting point.

The band’s main influence is definitely still Amorphis – from the keyboard tones to the cyclical guitar melodies, the similarities are obvious. It’s a forgivable offence, though, because two of this band’s members were previously in Amorphis, and they integrate that influence more than they simply emulate it (unlike the EP). This was mainly accomplished by fleshing out the folky lead guitar melodies and using them less regularly throughout each track. By doing this, they were able to give these lead melodies a bit more individual personality as well as remove a lot of the feelings of redundancy that cropped up on the EP.

In order to compliment these fuller melodies, the band incorporated another influence to help improve the underlying riffs. This influence is, of course, the poster children for progressive death metal, Opeth. This new influence has had the direct result of making the songs sound more modern and expansive as well as a bit more energetic. Fortunately, though, the band knew to avoid the extended song lengths and meandering structures associated with Opeth and instead chose to stick to creating epic tracks that are also compact and instant.

While it seems that the band put a lot of effort expanding their musical palette, they were apparently content with the vocals as they already were. Anyone that has heard the band’s first EP (or Swallow the Sun for that matter) should already know what to expect –deep guttural growls accentuated by black metal rasps and decent clean singing for occasional variation. The problem with the vocals is that the clean singing is weak in places and has a tendency to be kind of nasally (for lack of a better term). Of course, the multifaceted music and the little surprises such as flute sections, random high-speed death parts, and things of that nature tend to overshadow any vocal deficiencies.

Despite the band’s tendency to wear their influences on their sleeve, Curse of the Red River is still a solid progressive doom/death album -- and the throwback to Amorphis’ humble beginnings is a nice addition (considering Amorphis don’t do it anymore). The melodies are catchy, the keyboards are subtle and tastefully done, and the vocals are powerful (minus some cursory issues with the clean singing). As a debut, this album is great and it definitely proves that the band has what it takes if they continue to move towards their own niche.



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user ratings (128)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
J. Ponton EMERITUS (4)
Barren Earth bypass a common failing of super groups and make an excellent progressive death metal a...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
April 10th 2010


16073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was all fired up to do this and then the weather changed and got all bright and sunny and I got in a punk mood… so, tried my best even though I lost the mood.

Edwin
April 10th 2010


1399 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sounds pretty good, enjoyed the review.
I might have to check this one out.

Willie
Moderator
April 10th 2010


16073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks. It's a really good album, but I got in the mood to listen to punk about half way through writing the review, which made completing it kind of a chore.

Piglet
April 10th 2010


4659 Comments


Looks purty kewl

Ponton
Emeritus
April 10th 2010


5808 Comments


Finally! ;)

Great review, Trey. You nailed it.

Digging: Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
April 10th 2010


20857 Comments


So what you're saying Trey, is that metal can only be enjoyed when there are storm-clouds in the sky & a hurricane is about to hit.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
April 10th 2010


16453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review Trey, this album is pretty great.

Digging: Swallowed - Lunarterial

bloozclooz
April 10th 2010


1770 Comments


gotta agree there, cold weather etc does make some metal more enjoyable

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 10th 2010


8371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review although that's kinda obvious with you anyway haha

Observer recommended me this, and I really like it so far. Has only gotten better with each listen. Dunno what rating will I eventually give it, but great album for sure.

@ Davey
well you know I'll disagree on that (obviously), but even I have been spinning some more light hearted music recently. I also blame it on the sun haha. Poppish punk rock has gotten a green light from me. I even listened to some hip hop yesterday lol

Willie
Moderator
April 10th 2010


16073 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So what you're saying Trey, is that metal can only be enjoyed when there are storm-clouds in the sky & a hurricane is about to hit.
I wouldn't say that it's the only way to enjoy it, but when the sun comes out and the temp goes up it reminds me of high school in Southern California going to surf PE every other day, going down to the independent music stores in Leucadia and seeing what they recommended, and it makes me want to throw those High School staples back on - Bad Religion, Pennywise, LagWagon, etc.

Poppish punk rock has gotten a green light from me. I even listened to some hip hop yesterday lol
As soon as you have time to take the plunge let me know and I'll load you up with rec's.

BigTuna
April 10th 2010


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wish it was winter when I listened to this.

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

toolpeth182
April 10th 2010


190 Comments


listening to the full album stream atm, and it's lookin pretty good. can't wait to hear it in it's full quality!

BigTuna
April 10th 2010


5161 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^ Do you like Tool and Opeth?

toolpeth182
April 10th 2010


190 Comments


you forgot blink >_>

jingledeath
April 10th 2010


7104 Comments


Gonna have to look into this. Super review as usual dude.

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
April 10th 2010


8371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As soon as you have time to take the plunge let me know and I'll load you up with rec's.
pretty sure I won't have that time before summer, if even then =(. I'll be sure to give you a shout or somethign if I want to listen to the occasional light-hearted album.

Irad - you'll probably enjoy this at first, but like with every other progressive melodic death metal album, I'd guess after about 4-5 spins you'll grow tired of it. Just my guess, looking as how you don't really enjoy this kind of stuff anymore much.

anotherdeadjuliet
April 10th 2010


263 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great review, I think you hit it spot on. Fantastic listen. Def will be added to my best of 2010 contender list.

jingledeath
April 10th 2010


7104 Comments


Irad - you'll probably enjoy this at first, but like with every other progressive melodic death metal album, I'd guess after about 4-5 spins you'll grow tired of it. Just my guess, looking as how you don't really enjoy this kind of stuff anymore much.

Yeah you're probably right but there's no harm in giving it a shot. I really hope I end up liking this.

Emim
April 10th 2010


26649 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This sounds decent. I shall check it out.

Baphomet
April 10th 2010


7364 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, Trey. This looks like it's right up my alley. Plus anything Amorphis-related makes me a happy camper.

Btw, who's the Kreator member putting the "super" in this supergroup?





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