Barus – Self Titled EP Review

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Beautifully packaged in a six panel digi-pack, this self-titled effort from Barus is a pummelling nightmare of technically masterful darkness that draws upon the likes of Meshuggah, darkthrone and Cannibal Corpse to deliver a dizzying, deathly experience that will have extreme metal fans foaming at the mouth.

From the very moment that ‘Tarot’ detonates like an atom bomb, this is a magnificently brutal experience that draws together stands from black metal, technical death metal and even djent to send the listener off into a new realm of dark fever and nihilistic rage. James Leonard’s production is a thing of unholy beauty, capturing the bruising riffs and shimmering solos without compromising on the power of the percussion or deathly screams. Few bands have the technical power or blazing ambition to assault their influences with such ferocity, but Barus do so with an inspired passion that speaks of late night meetings at an abandoned crossroads, and the impact of the music is undeniable. Barely pausing for breath, the band head straight into the dissonant, syncopated pummelling of ‘Disillusions’, a stuttering monstrosity that sounds as if the band spent the night doing quadratic equations just to work out the time signature. And yet, for all the band’s technical mastery, the songs remain accessible, the technicality never overpowering the fundamental power that lies at the core of each track. Moreover, the track abruptly switches focus half way through to introduce clean singing and a progressive element that perfectly augments the savagery that surrounds it. Few bands pack so much variety into entire albums, and yet Barus do so in a manner that is both eclectic and yet coherent, always serving the song rather than acting out a misguided desire to overcook the material.

The EP’s third track, ‘Chalice’ slows things down to a leaden trawl, with spoken word narration ringing out in the echoing blackness as a riff so heavy it drags the very sunlight from the sky emerges like treacle from the speakers. This is potent indeed, echoing the harrowing bleakness of Neurosis at their most extreme, and echoing a dark ceremony held in some dank clearing miles from civilisation. By the time the tension breaks and the riffs finally slam home, the listener is liable to be found quaking in some corner of the room, fearful for their very soul. Another prog-infused piece, clean guitars emerge at the song’s heart, only to be obliterated by the riffs of the damned, and it is clear that for Barus, respite is merely an illusion, soon to be snatched away once more. The EP concludes with ‘cherub’, by which time the short, twenty-three minute run time has started to feel like a life time such is the wealth of material crammed into these four tracks. A slow, doom-laden beast, ‘Cherub’ lumbers away from the ceremonial chants of “drink it!” which conclude the previous song, and, partially sung in French, manages to sound even darker and more threatening. It perfectly concludes this none-more-brutal EP and promises great, if terrible, things for the future.

Barus a band that can be legitimately described as awesome in the literal meaning of the word – they inspire awe, but it is both great and terrible in equal measure. The band’s dark motivations are matched by blazing ambition and unsurpassed technical skill with the result that this self-titled EP draws the listener in for the duration, blotting out the sun and evoking images of a dank, dark forest where all is rotten and poisonous. This is extreme metal at its best – passionate, dark and deliciously dramatic and the band’s faultless execution is matched by a production that perfectly realises their dark vision. Essential listening, ‘Barus’ is a masterclass in brutality.

10/10

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