Review Summary: Baring Teeth put out another superbly written, impeccably performed release, albeit still in Gorguts' shadow.
Brilliant as it may have been, Baring Teeth’s debut Atrophy
was hardly a statement of originality; technically accomplished, beautifully composed and tastefully produced, maybe, but rather unabashed in its homage to Gorguts’ Obscura
. The difficulty of creating an authentic tribute to such an album commands respect in and of itself, but it seems Baring Teeth are now intent on dispelling the idea that they are imitators rather than innovators. Vocalist and guitarist Andrew Hawkins is rather adamant that Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins
is not only a more complete, well-rounded piece of work than Atrophy
, but expands upon its predecessor’s boundaries in a way that is uniquely Baring Teeth’s. Although the Gorguts influence is still vividly apparent, Baring Teeth have made strides in their mission to shake off the masquerading stigma and establish an identity of their own.
It seems cliché to make note of an album’s title as a way of describing its sound, but Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins
gives off a genuinely supernatural vibe, conjuring images of relics haunted by malevolent spirits of years gone by. While Atrophy
felt like strolling through a self-aware mansion that would rearrange itself at will, Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins
casts said mansion as a dilapidated shell of its former self. The overall pace is steadier and the atmosphere is bleaker, thanks to more fluid integration between the death and doom elements that so heavily contrasted with each other on the debut. As a result, song-writing patterns are more difficult to flesh out, but more rewarding when given the time they so obviously deserve. Songs like “The Great Unwashed” are comprised of motifs that are being constantly tweaked and modified until the track’s end, while “Terra Nullius” teases the listener by gradually trickling in one idea after another. Whatever their method is, Baring Teeth consistently pull off tracks that feel cohesive as single cuts, as well as thematically connected in the context of an album.
If there is one area that Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins
falls short in comparison to its predecessor, it’s the production. The mix itself is superb and the textures are well preserved, but the lack of dynamic range damages the overall experience. Some of the more climactic moments are sapped of their potential energy, thanks to a mastering job that the band seemed very keen to avoid in the past but – for whatever reason – are okay with now. Nevertheless, Baring Teeth has gone above and beyond with regards to instrumentation, creating music that is insanely technical while avoiding the all-too-prevalent “wank” pitfall. Dissonance galore, Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins
revels in merging supposedly incompatible chords, while the quirky – often chromatic – lead work explores the limitations of tonality itself. The ostensibly wayward axe and bass work is bound together by Jason Roe’s frenetic drumming, reeling off a plethora of unpredictable tom fills and handing frequent time shifts with consummate ease.
The respective vocal performances of both Hawkins and bassist Scott Addison bear an eerie resemblance to those sported by Steeve Hurdle on Baring Teeth’s most frequent point of comparison, Obscura
. Now, although the band have begun
to break the mould and assert themselves as a novel artists, Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins
is still not going to free them from the perennial comparisons to their Canadian idols. In spite of the album’s vast quality, the core sound still lacks a sense of idiosyncrasy that will propel Baring Teeth from the status of a great band, to a legendary one. This isn’t to take anything from the band as far as their musicianship and song-writing is concerned, because Ghost Chorus Among Old Ruins
is still an expertly crafted piece of work, and I dearly look forward to seeing the direction they take in years to come.