Barrowlands’ progressive push colors their black metal, splits path toward nature on ‘Tyndir’

The worst thing that ever happened to Earth is the human race. Yeah, I know. All the technological advancements, the rise of the industrial age, all the things we have learned about ourselves and other worlds. Where would that be? It likely would be a place without wars, pollution, rising climate change, defaced forests, you name it. We kind of suck.

When we humans are out of here, the Earth likely will go through a phase of inactivity, when the land is unkempt and unseeded, a sort of recovery period after what we did with the place. Hopefully we leave something behind worth re-growing. The concept is called “Tyndir” in the old Norse language, and it’s the name of the second record from progressive black metal band Barrowlands. Formed six years ago from the remnants of black metal band Mary Shelley and prog-infused band Lykaia, this group formed about six years ago, and their debut record “Thane” was released in 2014. This new record is a five-track offering that enraptures your mind, violently at times, and allows you into their portal to be immersed in their world. The band—guitarist/vocalist David Hollingsworth, guitarist Jay Caruso, bassist Chris Gaye, cellist Ray Lorenz, and drummer Martti Hill—spreads their power over 43 minutes and mangles your guts, spinning back and forth from violence to introspection, chaos to melancholy.

“Hyperion” gets the record started with a prog-fueled black metal mind frame, as strong melodies and carving growls chew their way into the scene. The track then gets ugly and vicious, as the pace swims back and forth, and the guitar lines twist and turn, potentially giving you vertigo. Nasty vocals return as the hammer drops, and though a moment of calm rises at a point, we end in more pain and a tornadic final few moments. “Light of a Dead Star” opens calmly, letting you soak in serenity before everything bursts wide open. The pace enraptures, while the growls crush your soul, and from there, the guitars catch fire and begin revolving around you. Hollingsworth’s vocals scrape the ground, while the tempo just detonates and drubs harshly. The low end rumbles like a storm, but caught up in that are infectious melodies, guitars that just go off, and an assault that rips hard until it reaches its end point.

“Wind and Rain” begins a run of three nine-minute-plus songs that end the album, this one coming in on acoustics before the drums rumble, and the vocals tear holes all over again. The cello slips into and then behind the chaos, adding different textures, while the band group shouts behind Hollingworth’s fierce shrieks, which push this thing over the top. Atmospheric pressure returns, letting the music get spacious, and heavy emotion pours over the back end, as rustic beauty adds character, the leads cut through, and the melody flows away. “Woodland Rebirth” gives a chill at first before sunbeam-emblazoned lead guitars burst through, and then the bottom drops out. The band pushes their might forward, as the music floods the senses and destroys any hint of calm. The pace later changes and slips into a slow-driving mauling, as clean guitars drip over the pit of sludge and then catch fire and burn through that. The band hits hyperdrive for the final blast, ending in thunderous fashion. “Empty Hands Grasping” closes the record, getting off to a rousing start, as Hollingsworth’s growls lacerate, and the storm comes to a head. The intensity falls back a bit for a while, as the cello work rises, the melodies mesmerize, and then everything erupts anew. The vocals wrench while the music pummels, and their penchant for overwhelming you with melody again becomes a factor. Moody playing rolls in, the fires rage high, and the grisly power gives way to quiet acoustics and fades into the trees.

Barrowlands journey to where they are now hasn’t been the smoothest one, as they’ve re-sown their own field a few times to get where they are today. The band paints a volatile picture between nature and humankind on “Tyndir,” one that posits we are not long for this place in a struggle the Earth eventually will win over one of its main inhabitants. That, itself, is a morbid thing to think about, and this music adds volatility and imagination to that topic in a way that could have your senses quaking.

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