Barbelith - Mirror Unveiled - (8/10)
Published on June 22, 2015
Mirror Unveiled, the debut full-length by Baltimore, Maryland four-piece Barbelith was originally released in late 2014 by the continuously impressive Grimoire Records. However, in mid 2015, this wonderful album is seeing a vinyl release, which also happens to be a first for the label. Full of beautiful melody, abrasiveness and a lot of replay value, this album was and is still a great show case for the post-black foursome.
The first thing many would notice about Barbelith and this release is a sense of familiarity. The band does fit well within the post/atmopsheric black metal category that is fairly prevalent. Sounding more like a Bosse-De-Nage than a Deafheaven, there is no denying though that this sound is not the most original. Never-the-less, Barbelith manage to separate themselves with some well thought out song structure and some incredible musicianship with emphasis on the drumming. The production on the album is pretty raw sounding, while still being able to pick up all the various nuances in the guitar, and never looses the underlying melody which helps to drive each track. The riffs are biting, and catchy as well, while the drumming is impeccable. from the chaotic fills and blasts to the groove laden slower sections, the highlight definitely lies in the drumming.
That is not to say the rest of the musicians are bad, in fact, far from it. The vocals are usually shrill screams, but there are a few growls here and there on “Black Hole Of Fractured Reflections” that add a nice change to the sound and help to stand out a little more after nearly 20 minutes of throat shredding screams. Further, the rest of the band is well adept at what they do, to again bring up the melody on the record. The songs feature plenty of sharp riffs and tremolo but there is always a melody underneath it all that drives the songs, and makes up the crux of the material as opposed to being just “something to add”. The pieces are clearly worked within the frame of the melody, and it works wonders. Also, the transitions from the fast and heavy sections into the melodious and slower parts goes off without a hitch. The change is always seamless and allows the songs to have more of an impact on the listener.
Mirror Unveiled is such an accomplished work for a young act. The influences are not at all hard to spot, but the band has a knack for stepping outside of their influence and making a name for themselves on their own. The raw production from Grimoire Records owner Noel is unmistakable and he has managed to really capture the band in the best way possible. Soft when it needs to be and fast when it should, Mirror Unveiled should stand out as a major accomplishment in the post-black metal sub-genre for long-time fans and newcomers alike.