Gates Of Nimh EP

Written by: AP on 30/12/2014 13:32:07

Following up on the release of their excellent debut album “Terrorlight” in 2013, Copenhagen born sludge metal crew Barricade now return a year and a half later with a teasing EP in “Gates of Nimh” as they prepare to write their next full-length in the near future. I’m unaccustomed to writing such brief and concise preambles to my review articles, yet given the no-frills road on which the band has elected to continue on this effort, it seems oddly appropriate to spend as little text space as possible in analysing the thing.

Barricade have always taken pride in their own description of their music, which they feel ”sounds like a pair of speakers dying on you”; and on “Gates of Nimh”, that summary certainly holds water as the raw live sound by which they’ve become respected in the Danish underground remains very much an integral part of their style. That much is clear from the storming opening track “Erebus”, which rolls out of the gates with a heavy groove atop the signature two pronged drumming of Tejs Kyhl & Daniel Wald (who has since exited the band). Black Tusk and Kylesa have always been obvious influences for Barricade and so they continue to be here, “Hellion” for instance flashing the burning, hardcore fuelled intensity of the former, and the spaced out psychedelics of the latter to tremendous results. Understanding the need for variety, the song stomps in with an old school Mastodon-esque urgency, and then unfolds into a darkly melodic, stoning midsection in which the double percussion is given room to breathe, before recalling the punishing start in its outdo.

“Matriarch” tones down the onslaught somewhat with an approach more focused on detail than pummel, musing at times the mystical atmosphere of Mastodon’s “Crack the Skye” era (though, it must be said, never on a comparable scale) amidst its groove laden march; while for contrast, “Nomad” accelerates into bursts of distraught, simplistic lead melody that regrettably never seem to resolve. On the closing “Sunblast”, Barricade experiment with a more doom laden soundscape, shrouded in distress, and bristling with thick slabs of stoner metal; its simple yet effective crescendo putting a fine seal on proceedings which, to me, sound somewhat hastily assembled and lack definitive standout moments.

Indeed, that bellicose feeling emitted by tracks like “Traitor’s Trail” and “Abyss of Kain” off “Terrorlight” is never fully captured here, and while applause must be offered for the delightfully organic production employed, “Gates of Nimh” plays more like an obligatory offering to wanting fans than a seriously considered, carefully cultivated piece of music. It features plenty of stuff to mosh and bang your head to, but for me personally, the songs do little to raise them above the average. Knowing what Barricade are capable of at their best, I’ll thus concede to waiting for the prospective sophomore album.


Download: Hellion, Sunblast
For the fans of: Black Tusk, Herder, Kylesa, (old) Mastodon
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 20.10.2014
Black Grain Records

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