BARROWLAND – Thane (black vinyl) 12inch

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Sick Man Getting Sick Records /// SIM014
Release date: September 22, 2014

greyscale & silver printed cover, thick printed inner sleeve, 100 white vinyl / 200 black vinyl

A1 | Alabaster | 06:47
A2 | Peering Inward | 07:10
A3 | Mother of Storms | 06:36
B1 | 1107 | 08:48
B2 | On Bent Boughs | 11:35


#blackmetal #cascadianblackmetal #atmosphericblackmetal

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Review –

Barrowlands is a black(ish) metal band from the Pacific Northwest (Portland). Barrowlands sounds like a black(ish) metal band from the Pacific Northwest. The sprawling atmosphere, brooding melodies, and largely restrained nature for which the scene is known are all present. In other words, some of the area’s most well-known acts (Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, etc.) can be heard on debut full length Thane—often in small doses, but sometimes directly. Mix in small touches of Ireland and Eastern Europe, and you’ve got a quality, if sometimes insanely derivative debut.

Thankfully, the band’s formula reaps rewards more often than not. Opener “Alabaster” sounds fairly Agallochian and “Cascadian” at times, while offering moments of moody doom and gorgeous tremolo harmonies. Vocals are harsh and desperate, and blast beats are present, but nothing about the song ever feels intense, rather pleasantly restrained. On most of the album, this approach works to great effect, and at times brilliantly, such as during the absolutely stunning “Mother of Storms.” With a slight injection of Primordial’s rhythmic tendencies and a couple chilling moments of unforgettable tremolo harmonies, the track truly shows Barrowlands’ full potential.

However, the Agallochian tones occasionally reach beyond mere homage (leads in “Peering Inward,” motifs all over the place) to become direct plagiarism. “1107” sounds so much like something from The Mantle that it would be easy to convince an Agalloch fan that it is a studio outtake from those sessions. This is not an exaggeration in the least. From the rhythms and atmosphere to use of vocals and ghostly lead lines, it sounds exactly like Agalloch. It’s still a rather pleasant, engaging song, but the degree to which it copies its source material is a distraction. You can ape a particular style (as most of the album does) and get away with it, but ape a very distinctive band, and it will not go unnoticed.

If this is Barrowlands’ lone sin on their debut, then they’re still off to a pretty darn good start. Thane succeeds enough in its execution to overcome even its greatest of plagiaristic tendencies. An enhancement in distinction and songcraft, a refinement in certain elements such as the doom, and Barrowlands might really have the fires burning.