Contrary to our first posts’ claims our first feature, as you can see, will be with Barshasketh, and not Abwehrschlacht (who will indeed still be featured in the future). This is no reason for disappointment though, as one great band have replaced another in this feature spot, as our review found out. We received two CDs from Barshasketh and endeavoured to review both somewhat thoroughly, in order to have a nice full starting post for Ultimate Ululation. They are a gigging band, and you can find the gig dates and updates from the band on the Barshasketh facebook page, and download both of their albums on their bandcamp page. Although the band declined the chance for an interview, they provided a small, autobiographical history, which you can see below.
“Barshasketh was started as a solo project by Krigeist in Wellington, New Zealand, in 2009. Two demos were released within the year via Wolfsvuur Records and in 2010 a full length saw the light of day, featuring drummer Maldoror. After travelling throughout South East Asia, Krigeist settled in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Barshasketh began to perform as a full band with the help of a live lineup. Out of this live line up, GM was made a permanent member and Cnocantursa was recruited to record the second full length ‘Sitra Achra’, which was released in 2013 through Todestrieb Records. After recruiting bassist Σao, the band embarked on a UK tour to promote the album. Finally after this series of shows, the band parted ways with Σao and replaced him with bassist Falloch. Work soon began on two split releases, details of which will soon be revealed.”
As you can see, their provided autobiography talks more about the history of the band members and their releases than the origins of their music. But as an introduction to this band I can’t just talk about their albums or bandmembers, but try to explain their inherent style as well, without the opportunity to ask about where it comes from.
‘Defying the Bonds of Cosmic Thralldom’ was released in 2010, and when everyone here at UU first heard it we were really quite impressed. The seven track album is cold and gritty, which is something I wasn’t expecting from dealing with a New Zealand black metal band. From track one, Entzauberung (‘demystification’ auf deutsch for those wondering) we’re introduced to slow tempo, rough and sinister music. The precision drum beats and occasionally clean guitars do nothing but highlight the fading vocals and almost melting quality of the songs, with sounds merging into one another really well. This music is solid grit with an air of precision. A little to my dislike a few tracks on this album verge a little to far into thrash territory. If this is to your taste then there’s no problem. But after listening to the album as a whole, the short, choppy riffs of these thrash tracks break up the wonderful meshing sounds of the rest of the CD. I was glad when things seemed to get back on track for the rounding up of the album. All in all I thought this was a top-notch release. It covers all bases and the only point I would pick in the assemblage of it is that the vocals seem to be great, but they’re so quiet ‘seem’ is the best I can muster. ‘Whisper of the Abysmal Winds’ was a favourite.
Before I go on to talk about their second full-length album, I should state by the time ‘Defying…’ was finished I was already a fan. So when I stuck ‘Sitra Achre’ on and the first song (the title track) was even better than where ‘Defying…’ left off, I was hooked. The band have carried over the feeling of cold, old-style, slow-motion evil right onto their second release and it’s worked beautifully. The vocals, to my delight, are much more audible and just as good as predicted. The precision somehow helps to form the noise, both being noticeable and forgettable… These guys are great musicians. The downside, and once again you can tell this is something I’m picking at out of my own preference, is the tendency to lapse into the occasional, relatively slow-style picking solo’s. But, even though I’m not a fan of this, the band harmonises them really well. I urge anyone who’s able to check this band out live, and to give both albums a thorough listen.
Thanks again to Barshasketh for the co-operation, and a serious well done on two great albums.
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Until next time.