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3.84 | 22 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2010


1. The Curse Of The Red River (7:52)
2. Our Twilight (5:27)
3. Forlorn Waves (4:39)
4. Flicker (6:42)
5. The Leer (4:56)
6. The Ritual Of Dawn (6:34)
7. Ere All Perish (5:54)
8. Cold Earth Chamber (5:34)
9. Deserted Morrows (6:50)

Total Time 54:25


- Mikko Kotamäki / Vocals
- Janne Perttilä / Guitar
- Sami Yli-Sirniö / Guitar
- Kasper Mårtenson / Keyboards
- Olli-Pekka Laine / Bass
- Marko Tarvonen / Drums

About this release

Full-length, Peaceville Records, March 31st, 2010

Thanks to UMUR for the addition


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A supergroup from the more progressive end of extreme metal, drawing deep from the Amorphis well and with Dan Swano behind the mixing desk? Well, it's an idea which looks good on paper, but the results very much depend on how keen you are on Amorphis' latter-day progressive style. Not that this is a clone band, mind - just that with two former members of Amorphis onboard, there's inevitably some crossover in aesthetic taste.

In particular, when it comes to its death metal influences this is very much on the more accessible side of the melodic death metal camp, to the point where there are segments of the album where Mikko Kotamäki's growls are more or less the only discernable death metal component of the mixture.

Where Barren Earth take things in a different direction is the vintage prog influences in their performances, especially in the keyboards, which are a bit more nostalgic and steeped in the 1970s style than Amorphis' more modern-sounding progressive moments. This may be where comparisons to Opeth hail from; either way, it makes the album an interesting listen, though I do question just how much fruit is going to grow in this Barren Earth.
Released in 2010, Curse Of The Red River is the debut album from Barren Earth. A band consisting of already experienced musicians from the likes of Amorphis, Kreator, Moonsorrow and Swallow The Sun.

Curse Of The Red River is a progressive melodic death metal album that seems to be influenced quite a lot by Opeth. Not only do they mix the death growls with clean vocals, they also have that light and shade and mix acoustic elements alongside heavier riffing and the music simply has a strong Opeth feel at times too. It has to be said though that while the clean vocals are adequate they aren’t in the Mikael Akerfeldt league. No problem though as Barren Earth more than make up for this with some very strong compositions, the prog elements adding plenty of twists and turns keeping things never less than interesting with many exceptionally compelling moments of musical interplay too. There’s also a heavy dose of melody. In fact even before I realised the band featured the ex-keyboard player of Amorphis – Kasper Martenson, I was thinking that those big keyboard driven melodies reminded me a lot of that band, particularly later era Amorphis. A bit strange this though as Martenson was a member in the earlier days, when they were a somewhat different beast. Perhaps his influence lives on. There’s still a healthy dose of heavy riffing though so don’t get the idea that this album doesn’t contain its share of heavy moments which is shown to best effect by a powerful production.

Barren Earth have gone on to make two more albums since this one, both good albums in their own right but I’d say Curse Of The Red River remains my favourite.
The Finnish metal super group Barren Earth debuted in 2009 with the respectable Our Twilight EP, and 2010 saw the release of their debut full length album Curse of the Red River. Their EP consisted of four tracks of melodic death metal with epic prog tendencies, and on the album the tendencies are expanded into a significant factor in the music.

One does only need to listen to the opening title track with its shifts from deathy verses to cleaner soaring choruses to an intricate-yet-super heavy instrumental section to an acoustic passage complete with a gorgeous flute solo to see that this is not a one trick band. While some comparisons can be drawn at times to for example Opeth or Type O Negative, they are only spices thrown in their very original cooking. The cherry on top of this cake of great musicians is Kasper Mårtenson whose piano gets a lot of space even in the heavier sections, not to mention the various softer parts of pure beauty, and who brings a lot of vintage prog spirit with his flying keyboard solos, naturally in addition to choosing just the right tones to enhance the mood of each section.

It could be said that both of the Mårtenson composed pieces, Forlorn Waves and the Ritual of Dawn are album highlights, but that brings out the problem of how many tracks can one name as highlights. The brightest of them all might be the only track composed by guitarist Janne Perttilä, Flicker, which has some of the most brutal and most beautiful parts of the album in perfect harmony, and even some very balalaika sounding guitar work during the instrumental section. The most prolific composer of the group is the ex-Amorphis bassist Olli-Pekka Laine, who brings in four tracks, from which especially the aforementioned opening title track, co-composed by Kreator guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö, and the fast paced, quite rocking The Leer deserve an affectionate special mention.

The best new metal album I've heard in a long while, absolutely recommendable for friends of progressive death metal. The final half star is only a matter of standing the test of time.

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