Review Summary: Cutting away the bells and whistles tying up modern metalcore, Barrier issue a defiant challenge to return to honest, raw aggression.
I think that I can sum up Barrier's second outing, EP Dark Days
in one fairly simple phrase: what deathcore was intended to be. Now, does that make Dark Days
a deathcore album? No, not as we know it.
Deathcore, after all, has become a creature of worn-out hardcore artists tired of using their biceps and any sort of vocal range. It has become a genre lacking in innovation and seemingly born of laziness. Barrier, on the other hand, approach their music with what you'd more or less expect from the term "deathcore" without having ever heard a group from the genre before: low, aggressive, and fast-paced music topped with singing that's emotionally angry in both tone and lyric spliced together with technicality on the raw. Drumming kicking in and out of simple beats and full-on, earth-shattering onslaughts provide not only the primary technicality of the album, but an inherent dark aura accented by the low, dragged-out growls of guitars that not only provide a gloomy, hovering background to each track, but at times add the extra crunching undertone that provides the expected guttural vocal without removing the impassioned and enraged tone of the vocals.
And while this might not work for other releases, the reason it works on Dark Days
is that it is such a sincerely angry album. While it seems that there are a lot of artists that put their fingers to the crunching, fast-and-furious sound these days, a lot of that raw, furious soul has been forgotten. And it's that emptiness that's caused a lot of modern metalcore releases to be so terribly tepid and in search of bells and whistles to feign the illusion of progression. Yet, the vocal presentation on Dark Days
speaks for the album itself. There is no compromise. There are no bells and whistles. There is no question that this is the real sound, the real human emotion of fury being belted out in a gruff, howling challenge. No clean highs or pitch-corrected and mechanically altered passages are needed because anger is not only real, but unadulterated and organic.
hits like a fist to the face - fast, hard, and over before you know it, but not without leaving a mark. The exact sort of way you'd expect a sincere challenge to the way hardcore has evolved over time to be thrown down. The sheer aggression of the album marks a defiant and successful statement that there's still something to acting on pure emotion rather than taking a still beating heart and turning it into a machine. And to be honest, it's about goddamn time.