Welcome to Paradise and not the kind that Guns N’ Roses talked about either. A paradise where we have no sign of palm trees, no sign of marvelous ocean life or cold alcohol to sip on while we fall asleep underneath the sun on a breeze filled beach. We’re talking about a paradise where certain bands comes together to creat a record or a project that will set your mind at ease while you wonder, “Did Rush pick up three extra members and change their look and the way they play?”. The correct answer to that assumption is no but you guessed very close to something similar. Barren Earth is a “super-group” with members from bands such as Moonsorrow, Kreator, Swallow The Sun, October Falls and ex-members of Amorphis. “Curse Of The Red River” could be considered a record that nobody might be able to touch, even to the point that it’s borderline classic material. I can split that argument two ways and in this review I’ll cover both. Also, as much as I hate to admit it, with me being a pretty big fan of progressive death/doom stuff, this record blew me away but two things really brought me back to ground zero and smacked me in the face.
“Curse Of The Red River” has beyond hit a soft spot in my heart with it’s very melodic, open structure scales from the flow of the record to the guttural impact that Mikko can bring to the table. “Flicker”, the fourth track, might be the example I’m trying to spew out of my ugly mouth. Keyboards play a somewhat decent size part in “Flicker” but not so much that it’s to the point they overwhelm everything in on the track. Another great thing about “Curse Of The Red River” is that no matter what you think might be in the next section, you’re probably wrong 99.99% of the time. The whole record pretty much has twists and turns as if you were stuck in a Alice in Wonderland maze with cards chasing you with pitchforks, never a boring moment at all, that’s for sure. The other positive thing about “Curse Of The Red River” is that it has the progression of my favorite band of all-time, Rush. It’s as if Barren Earth were only a couple decades earlier, they might be in the position Rush is now. I won’t go as far as to say that Barren Earth is the new Rush because that would be insane and unrealistic, in forms that are none-existent. They are however, skilled to the point that they might have something if they want to keep pushing with this project.
Now, the huge negatives that almost killed the record for me but I can over look them since they are few and far between on the release. The first is a problem that won’t bother most people but it does me because I can’t stand In Flames for one second. The growls are on point and the other forms of screams are greatness to my ears but once you get to sounding like some horrible “modern metal” band with your clean vocals, we might have a problem and it’s a problem that can ruin shit really quick for me. The other thing is that the last track on the record, “Deserted Morrows” seems to be nothing but keyboards and lame riffs. It’s as if they kind of slacked on the final track just to get it over with which with me means no bueno and I was close to hating this record after that track.
Now, as much as I have a strong opinion on the negatives, the positives outweigh the negatives by a couple lbs.. It’s not my job to bash a band on the negatives points and look over the positives because then I would be like some reviewers that just want attention, no names will be be mentioned. I have to look at the overall picture and the overall picture shows me that I dig this record a ton. In the end, I can see myself spinning this record a couple of times a months, if not more, it’s just that I’ll have to block out the In Flames influence in the clean vocals from time to time.
Listen to “Flicker” below: