Barbarus – Into The Distant Light

Band: Barbarus
Album: Into The Distant Light
Release Date: 27th December 2018

My first review of 2018 is a review of an album that came out only 4 days before 2018 ended, and I heard about it through Heri Joensen’s (Týr, Heljareyga). I’ve never heard of Barbarus before, but it seems like a one-man project with a previous self-titled release.

Primordial Throne sets the scene for the story told through this album, about the ending of a race, and the potential for a new age to begin, with a rift in the sky, a distant light. Acoustic guitar accompanies what sounds like a crackling fire or the distant movement of hoardes of people. Spoken word, telling the tale of the people runs over the top of the instrumental. During the track, the pace picks up a little, and then harsh vocals, electric guitar, and drums come over the acoustic and atmospheric noise to finish. We have a slow start, but a build up into something bigger.

Dreams kicks off with a more melodic and full intro, which reminds me very much of Insomnium. The harsh vocals are the full lyrical component of the track, and there are some stripped down sections to the instrumental as well. There is an atmosphere and mystery to the track. Son begins interestingly with an organ, and then is overlayed with an 80’s sci-fi style synth. The guitar and bass come in over the top, and then we hear some choral clean vocals for the first time. The harsh vocals do come back again, and in the breakdown where the instrumentals are calmer, there is spoken word.

Death and Ruin begins with distorted guitar chugs and drums. There is a much slower tempo to this track, and it is much more stripped down. There is a bit of  a black metal feel to the track for me, and it does transition into the more melodic style later on, but the stripped back feel is still there. The track finishes with piano. Horizon is a shorter instrumental track, and there is that Insomnium feel to the guitars again. The track has a feel of a build-up to something big, a tense atmosphere.

A New Age lives up to that build-up. There is a lot of atmosphere to the track, with thunder rumbling, rain lashing down and war drums. The full instrumental kicks in with black metal style rhythms to the guitar and fast drums. There are harsh vocals over the top, and then the instrumental strips right back down again. The track transitions into more melodeath and Insomnium style guitar work, but much fewer layers, which for me really works well. The track ends how it begins with the storm.

Into The Distant Light, the title track of the album and featuring the vocals of Heri Joensen, begins softly, with piano. Then choral vocals are added, followed by electric guitar work on top. Heri’s clean vocals come in, and are then overtaken by the harsh vocals we are used to hearing throughout the album. The pace picks up, and the clean vocals are back, once again followed by the harsh. The crescendo of musical layers get stripped back a bit again, and the clean and harsh vocals harmonise for a while. We get a soft, quiet piano ending, a fitting end as the people of the story leave their old home.

For a 7-track album, there are a lot of different styles incorporated together, despite there not being an incredibly multi-layered sound, and it works,. I’d be interested to see what else this one-man project can produce in the music. I feel like the music could go one step further with a few more elements, it doesn’t quite feel as epic to me as something telling this kind of story maybe could. Having said that, I really enjoyed listening to this, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes melodeath, as well as a more stripped back metal sound.

Verdict: 7.5/10

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