Barren Earth - A Complex Of Cages review



Reviewer:
8.2

86 users:
8.10
Band: Barren Earth
Album: A Complex Of Cages
Release date: March 2018


01. The Living Fortress
02. The Ruby
03. Further Down
04. Zeal
05. Scatterprey
06. Solitude Pith
07. Dysphoria
08. Spire
09. Withdrawal


It took a while for Barren Earth to find their own identity beyond a supergroup sounding like Amorphis covering Opeth, but the biggest step came when Jón Aldará joined in 2014 as a vocalist and now A Complex Of Cages is his second album with the band. What gives?

Other than Antti Myllynen replacing Kasper Mårtenson as the band's keyboard player, there is nothing fundamentally different between A Complex Of Cages and On Lonely Towers. The band still harnesses their mix of melodeath, melodic doom, and mid-paced progressive death, so if you already heard their previous album, there are no more surprises, at least on a fundamental level.

Compositionally, however, this is a prog album, more or less, so there are definitely some passages that are bound to surprise, especially during the longer songs; "Solitude Path" comes to mind with its over-10-minute run, finding Barren Earth at their proggiest. Whenever the band doesn't sound too Amorphis-ish or too Opeth-y, you'll find some amazing passages and it is in these distinctly Barren Earth-ish passages that A Complex Of Cages shines, perfectly progressive without being too indulgent or pretentious.

Antti's keyboards do flavour the album nicely at parts and they're thankfully not overused, striking the balance between lacking and cliché. Now obviously all the members do their jobs rather well, but nobody shines quite like Jón with both his Akerfeldtian growls and his emotive, operatic cleans. Like in Hamferð, his vocal performance brings everything together, but one thing that Támsins Likam did better than A Complex Of Cages was being more concise, at around 40 minutes, compared to this album's run time of over an hour. While it's not something gargantuan, I can't help but feel that it would greatly benefit from a bit of chopping some unnecessary Opeth worship.

So while being far from a watershed album for Barren Earth, A Complex Of Cages does see Barren Earth pushing forward towards crafting their own identity and it is best in moments when it sounds like nothing but itself.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 9


 



Written on 17.04.2018 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 107 users
17.04.2018 - 22:03
MetalManic
I really don't understand why I've kind of lightly (if not at all) followed Barren Earth over the years. I really like(d) their first release. Perhaps it is indeed the featured similarities to other bands that made it (sadly) easier to just listen to those other bands.

Paradoxically, Opeth-y really isn't Opeth-y these days
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MetalManic
www.MetalManic.com
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17.04.2018 - 22:28
Risto
Wandering Midget
There are only a couple of Opeth-y riffs on the entire album.
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18.04.2018 - 10:07
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Risto on 17.04.2018 at 22:28

There are only a couple of Opeth-y riffs on the entire album.

Yeah a lot more of the time they sound more Amorphis-ish, but I can't really blame them as much for that since they got members from Amorphis as well
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Is it future of is it past?
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19.04.2018 - 21:32
tea[m]ster
Au Pays Natal
Only their debut is really good. Excellent review and thanks.
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rekt
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20.04.2018 - 09:32
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by tea[m]ster on 19.04.2018 at 21:32

Only their debut is really good. Excellent review and thanks.

For me it's the exact opposite. I only like the latest two.
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Is it future of is it past?
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20.04.2018 - 15:41
tea[m]ster
Au Pays Natal
Quote:
Written by RaduP on 20.04.2018 at 09:32


For me it's the exact opposite. I only like the latest two.

Interesting. Not many share your feelings. I will have to go back and see if anything has changed.
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rekt
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20.04.2018 - 18:21
Risto
Wandering Midget
Written by RaduP on 20.04.2018 at 09:32

For me it's the exact opposite. I only like the latest two.

Assuming it's for reasons mentioned in the first paragraph, I've repeatedly brought up that especially the argued Opeth influence is often exaggerated throughout their discography (continues to be a general review flaw, it seems). I attribute many things I assume people think is Opeth influence to different prog bands altogether, like The Living Fortress.

Curse of the Red River still stands their best album for me as well.
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