Barbelith, a quartet from Baltimore (US) has an intensely screaming vocalist and a very energetic drummer, which should place them within the black metal scene. However, since Barbalith excells in elaborate soundscapes and guitar passages that breathe post-rock all the way, we're not so sure where to place this anymore. This combination of black metal and post rock reminds me of bands like Deafhaven, Wolves In The Throne Room and our own Belgian youngsters Drawn Into Descend. It's this surprising blend of genres that renewed interest in the extreme underground genres, at least for me.
Yet, before we even begin listening to this blackened post-rock, we have to deal with an intro. 'Beyond the Envelope of Sleep' is a four minute lasting mix of noise rock, black metal, noise and experimental metal. This surely is a weird track to open this album but it's a stunning one nonetheless. Within a few moments you've been drenched in the insanity that drives Barbelith. Shortly after opening, the song turns into a very decent black metal song, reminding me of another Belgian band, Wiegedood.
In 'Astral Plane' the post-rock influences become the main part of the music. Here the drums creates quite complicated patters while the guitars create the typical post-rock sound. Slowly the song builds towards blast beats driven black metal while also incorporating some heavy metal riffs. The result is massive and simply epic. 'Black Hole of Fractured Reflections' follows a similar path and quickly becomes my favourite song on this album. In this is song it becomes clear that Barbelith doesn't just alternates these two genres. No, they blend them together into one mesmerizing trip, constantly swaying the listener between different emotions and atmospheres.
The album closes with 'Reverse Fall', a track that also shows the sludge-side of this American quartet. Here too the level of intensity is extremely high. The heavy passages are simply crushing pieces of music. Somehow I think I've been witnessing a glimpse of the evolution of this band. In the past 37 minutes they've stunned me with their unique atmospheric sound and their writing skills. This makes me already look forward to the future of this band and certainly to live performances. Wit hstuff like this, they will surely be able to convince audiences far and wide.