November 26, 2014

Barbelith - Mirror Unveiled

Written by Matt Hinch.

Art by Art by A.B. Moore

Regular readers of Metal Bandcamp should know by now that this writer has a bit of a love affair with just about everything coming out of the Grimoire Records camp. They've got a stable full of well-bred stock competing hard in the USBM race. The latest charger to burst out of the gate is Barbelith and Mirror Unveiled.

The horse metaphor comes into play as Barbelith combines unbridled power with an inherent beauty as they marry up blistering black metal with spacious post-rock melodies over the course of four tracks and 27 minutes.

In general, the band dynamic relies on athletic percussive violence, harrowing vocal delivery and guitars that weave amongst themselves in fierce opposition while synchronous at their core. Barbelith's dichotomous nature works to not only scorch the earth to eradicate the negative but cleanse it as well allowing a fresh perspective to take its place.

On the longer tracks a cyclical pattern emerges moving from pure raging fury to serenity and back again while incorporating a mix of tempos. Galloping jaunts, skittering shuffles and a pseudo-groove all find a place alongside the ensuing madness and empyrean melodies. Among the obvious black metal comparisons (WITTR, Bosse-de-Nage) one can hear gentler passages reminiscent of Yakuza, Explosions in the Sky and even Pallbearer.

Most often the emotional cacophony builds to a crescendo as it spirals high to unleash a venom across the astral planes between bursts of energy and recovery. The rage seems necessary to clear clouds of melancholy and let peaceful, healing light bathe the listener. It's the juxtaposition of blasting drums and soaring, intimate melodies that really connect on multiple levels. Such as the anger that follows in the wake of hurt, or the fear that precedes opening up your heart and the relief that results.

One can feel a determination and drive to rise above the despair as Barbelith cycle through emotional states making minor changes along the way as no two experiences are exactly the same. And their tendency towards the mix of scorching black metal hatred and emotional melodies mirrors human nature in that the world is not black and white and nothing is fully understood on the superficial level.

Mirror Unveiled is a convincing and compelling album full of emotions both destructive and passionate. It hits the sweet spot balancing the furious with the halcyon, the raw with the refined. It's quite obvious that a broad palette of influences colour this majestic and triumphant work of art, filling all available space to create a surreal, enveloping and at times transcendent experience.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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