Saturday, February 19, 2011


A black metal band sharing members with the hyper-prolific Thou, Barghest come from a completely different space sonically, a marriage of hypnotically fast raw black metal tinged with rusty barbs of of aching melodicism and dreary yearn. So much has been made of Thou's relation to New Orleans that it becomes difficult not to mention it in relation to Barghest as well, but whereas Thou drag their listeners through the greying mucked up waste of Baton Rouge and sour them with dumptrucks full of depressive torment, Barghest highlight the sick neon violence and drunken malicious revelry of the Big Easy, showing a city of gleaming knives around every corner and an infinite, cracking system of streets stretched out forever. This is a physical record, heightened by the simple, distant quality of the recording.
For a practice session this record is amazingly well-played, as though the members were giving it their most honest attempt at crafting a demo. Why this release isn't official in some capacity is beyond me because it's fucking amazing. Six massive, epic songs ranging anywhere from 5 minutes to near 13, Barghest come off like Gorgoroth crossed with the more melodic side of Les Legions Noire. It's raw and unrefined but possessed with an elegiac elegance and a magisterial sort of forlornness found only in the deepest French underground. These comparisons are made not for hyperbolic illustration but rather to define the quality of the music found here. This is one of the most accomplished sets of pure, raging USBM that i've heard in a longtime and while the influences are apparent Barghest rework them into something uniquely North American, with an emphasis on the feelings of decay and regret that tend to inhabit the output of bands from this side of the ocean. Perhaps we're too far into a new decade for black metal to truly hearken back to the rebellious outbreaks of Norwegian violence, and maybe USBM in particular is too infected with post-everything to really stake a claim to a piece of the true black metal legacy, but bands like Barghest are giving it a tremendous, throat-ripping effort. This is angry, haunted, devastating rage. Violence can shred time as easily as it can shred guitar strings and Barghest take that notion and lay utter waste to the concepts they're exploring. For me, this destroys everything that Thou has ever committed, or ever will commit, to tape. Maybe i'm being unfair, especially since the two embody different genres so strikingly. But if less Thou meant more Barghest i'd be all for a little less sludge in the Orleans and a lot more blood-soaked dirt and dust. Obviously this is recommended.

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