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Music Review

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Artist: Barbarian Hermit
Label: APF Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 29 January 2021

APF Records announces the re-release of Barbarian Hermit’s 2016 debut release, One. It is remastered by Chris Fielding, and now features the never-before-released 9 minute 'Through the Periscope of the Deadly Sub' – one of the first songs they wrote as a band (and one of the heaviest), and inspired by a nuclear submarine. The Sludge/Doom Metal group hails from Manchester, and incorporates Mike Regan on guitar, Adam Robertshaw on guitar, Chris Wood on bass, Loz Brindley on drums, and Simon Scarlet on vocals. The album is available on CD and for download...

'Mermaid' kicks us off with a slow but raucous introductory riff with guitar melody. It’s down-tuned Sludge with Doom-laden vocals reminiscent of the Black Sabbath style. Let’s face it, this is where it all started. The instrumental break has off-beat drums and a repeated piece which works quite well, before we return to the reverb, slightly set-back vocals of the verse. A solid opener. 'Tigerhorse' has a bass rhythm joined by hanging feedback guitar. This segues into a thick guitar riff accompanying the whole. Again, there is a Sabbath-like quiet break, and then more drawn-out slightly growled vocals. There is no chorus, but a timing change to a slightly faster music break serves as such. A Geezer Butler-sounding bass launches 'Burn the Fire' to a down and dirty guitar. This one is so low it has one foot in the fires of hell. It never loses its melody, however, and rises to a riff break which is quite tuneful without ever breaking from its foundation.

'BEA (Barbarian Enforcement Agency)' musically announces that riff Metal is the order of the day here, with the opening one quickly being replaced by another – only to return to the first as a chorus of sorts. The vocals are a more standard growled Metal format, but not unclear. This is long-form, with several Metal music tricks being implemented – including a harmony between guitar and bass. The track gradually slows to a crawl right at the end. 'Alma' breaks from the traps at a hundred miles per hour, which is a shock to the system based on what has come before. It’s a nice welcome change. However, this is just the case for the verses. The chorus returns to Doom/Sludge depression. There is an enjoyable frantic instrumental break.

'Widowmaker' incorporates a steady gallop, if such a thing is possible (a canter?). This is a steady, lazy beat. The vocals are more accessible in this one. It has a certain mysticism surrounding the tones. An interesting track of light and shade, with grandeur. I’ve changed my mind about what is the best track. 'Through the Periscope of the Deadly Sub' is brutally low and rumbling with almost called vocals from a distance. The Doom aspect extends to film soundtrack-like horror tropes and psychedelic effects, with heavy drumming. Yes, this could effectively be used in a psychotic thriller where it wouldn’t matter too much that it jumps around whilst maintaining a similar theme. In my opinion, this is a step too far. Although a tantalising unreleased track is often grounds for celebration, here the original choice of leaving it out was the right one. Nevertheless, this album proves pleasantly surprisingly and intriguing for a Doom/Sludge countenance.


Ty Power

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