Amid The Barren And Lost

Shadow Self Psalms

Written by: MAK on 31/01/2018 15:22:18

Over the last few years, the London-based thrashy death metal act Amid the Barren and Lost has been making a name for themselves in delivering a crossover sound that can be compared to the likes of Slayer, Lamb of God and Decapitated. Now, in 2018, the four-piece unveils their debut album, “Shadow Self Psalms” — ten tracks designed purely to pummel your senses.

On an initial listen, this release makes it easy to see how the aforementioned bands have influenced the outfit: the album combines the up-tempo intensity of thrash with the sheer brutality of death metal. “Shadow Self Psalms” treats us to some incredibly raw-sounding, throaty vocals; roaring shouts from Sean Gibson that instantly make you think of Randy Blythe on the very early Lamb of God albums — think the “New American Gospel” era of that band. Gibson is backed up by a range of ass-kicking shreds and bouncy grooves throughout, with a vast array of drum techniques that switch from blast beats to something a lot more intricate and mind-blowing. All of this is topped off by impressing guitar prowess from Doug Cartright, who shows off a mixture of fiddly solos and epic-sounding whines.

The opening track, “Of Blood and Bone”, showcases all of this and is a real mood-setter — it’s heavy and makes you want to destroy your surroundings. “Exiled from the Sun” contains a beatdown-style riff, unleashing a very deep chugging sound at a steady pace; however, the follow-up, “Nameless Slave”, is incredibly up-tempo in comparison. This is very much a throwback to the Swedish metal band Engel — a pure death metal groover that’s fast, bouncy and perfect for circle pits. “Embers of the Desolate” is a much more simple thrasher, like an old DevilDriver track. The back-end of the album provides more of the same, although it isn’t quite as attention-grabbing the more you listen to the release. Certain segments are ear-prickers, such as the epic face-melter of a guitar solo in “12 Hours of Violence”, or the intro segment in “Drawn to Flame”, which delivers a pure wall of sound comprising erratic drumming and monstrous riffs. Other than that, a lot of the album is a blur of pure heaviness.

The main negative to this album is how raw and dry the vocals are. With current recording and mixing technology, there are ways to improve this, but as this is however a debut album, it’s easy to let that slide. Still, it is something that the band needs to work on for future releases. It’s the only thing that shows that ATBAL is still in their early stages of its career, and as previously mentioned, it’s a strong reminder of Lamb of God in their early days. The songwriting and musical ability is sublime for a first album, and it’s the individual musicianship and overall instrument technique that really brings this record forward on top of being a monstrous headbanger.


Download: Nameless Slayer, Of Blood and Bone, 12 Hours of Violence
For the fans of: Lamb of God, Engel, Decapitated, Slayer

Release date 19.01.2018
Self Released

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