Guest Review: Stan Gets Barbaric with Cult of the Empty Grave

Barbarian are a three-piece hailing from Florence (Italy), and they’re about to lay waste to the world’s great civilizations with the gargantuan, primitive might of their new album, Cult of the Empty Grave. Grab your bluntest instrument and your hardiest leather, because our main man Stan is going to walk you through this tour-de-force in style.

CotEG is Barbarian’s third album, and it continues the progression away from the Celtic Frost veneration of their eponymous debut and their crushingly heavy interpretation of NWOBHM meets thrash displayed of Faith Extinguisher. While still harnessing and upholding all of the traditions of 80s metal, on CotEG Barbarian have taken the finest elements of the epoch and forcefully crammed them through an injection molder, producing something that is surprisingly fresh, lively and heavier than a concrete elephant. Simply put, what we have here are seven battle-ready anthems capable of inducing involuntary fist-pumps, coarse grunting and various other forms of erratic behavior.

Opening track “Bridgeburner” sets out the stall in fine fettle. The rampaging opening riff and deathly roar that lead the charge are followed closely by galloping guitars and pummeling drums. Tempo changes abound, and although none are particularly brisk, their structure creates urgency. Textural elements are provided by the heroic backing vocals of the chorus and a resonating solo, both of which add a nice counterpoint to all the bashing and bruising.

The next two songs, “Whores of Redemption” and “Cult of the Empty Grave”, are a tad less riotous, falling predominantly into the category of mid-tempo stompers, but don’t let that description mislead you. They are both full of dynamic riffs that could cleave your cranium clean off. Bludgeoning rhythms are intertwined with soaring leads and brief speed metal forays resulting in instantly catchy, diverse and rabble-rousing little ditties.

If you love metal, then you’ll absolutely love “Absolute Metal”. Tongue in cheek title aside, this is a banger of a tune that opens with one almighty Tom G Warrior “ooh”. Speed metal is the name of the game, although the chugging riff just before the two-minute mark will have you violently nodding your head in approval. In short, this song rips. Interestingly enough, there’s a song on Faith Extinguisher called “Total Metal”. I’m gonna petition the band to include “Sheer Metal” on the next album. Or maybe, “Outright Metal”. Leave other suggestions in the comments.

Next up is “Supreme Gift”, and we find the band returning to the more mid-paced arena in which guitar tones and bass lines are as thick as whale omelets.  While there’s plenty of tom-tom clobbering and powerful down-strum riffing, this song falls a little flat. The riffs and solos are there, the gruff vocals are there, the battery is there, but it feels like it’s missing some oomph. Maybe it’s just the come down after the colossal “Absolute Metal”.

Nevertheless, “Bone Knife” gets us back on track with one of the biggest sing-along choruses in the band’s repertoire. If you’re not shouting “Barbarian” during the chorus of this number, the CSI unit are going to have a hard time finding your pathetic corpse with one of their fancy metal detector things. This song will surely become a live favorite, and I can already envision the pit kicking off when the dynamics take a turn midway through.

Album closer “Remorseless Fury” is exactly what it says on the label. Everything that I like about Barbarian has been distilled into a potion so potent that it would etch steel. Riffs are piled upon riffs, each one complementing and enhancing that which came before and none ever outstaying their welcome. If there’s such a thing as a riff feast, this song is the last supper. The turbulent tempos constantly change every few bars, driven by the magnificent rhythm section and highlighted by numerous short but sweet leads.

1457503_1012780878764760_7662368033813085822_n

CotEG is so immediately catchy, I initially had to question how long it would take for me to tire of it. Well, iTunes tells me that I have listened to it a little over thirty times while writing this review and I still want to put it on again. It is only thirty-four minutes long, so either its brevity is acting in its favor, or the riffs are just that good. Adding to the album’s replay value is the stellar production job. It’s dense, it’s heavy, it’s got just the right amount of distortion, and the spaciousness of the mix allows every note to be heard clearly.

So having said all that, I do have a couple of gripes, the first one being the prevalence of mid-paced tempos. I just wish there where a few more songs, or even extended sections of songs, that focused more on the band’s speed metal influences. Sure there are moments of unchecked aggression, but I want more! Secondly, the album feels quite controlled, especially when compared to their previous releases. As their name implies, I prefer Barbarian to sound a little less polished and a lot more unruly. These are only minor quibbles, and when all is said and done, CotEG delivers.

4 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

NEW_TOILETSCALE_4_of_5

Cult of the Empty Grave is out on April 15th via Hells Headbangers. You can pre-order it here and give the band a like here.

(image via Hells Headbangers and Facebook)

Written by:

Published on: March 9, 2016

Filled Under: Reviews

Views: 881

Tags: , ,

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Looks like another Shagrat album cover too.

    • COAL ROLL

      you’re really slacking on the hatred lately. you need to die harder

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        We’re already living in hell.

        • I am throwing you a bone with this one.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BqudwP9q0s

        • Rob M

          I thought there’d be more fire

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            See, everything is a let down.

        • Have you ever managed to see Yngwie live?

          • Disclaimer: The intention of this guide is to easily make DVD-compliant copies of discs, in an ethical and responsible way.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Nope.

  • Offtopic(feel free to downvote): GERM. check these guys out. Pgood sounding if you ask me.

    GL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLb_PnSFWNc

    • Eliza

      I’m digging this.

      • I am glad. I came across it by chance, no regrets!

        GL

  • Dubs

    Good work on this review, Stanley!

  • Surprised they have not been confirmed for Hells Headbash yet.

    • Maybe visa problems?

      • DVRKBEVRD

        shoulda used mastercard

        • maybe they will credit that idea to you.

          • RJA

            I CREDIT this review with helping me DISCOVER barbarian.
            (I don’t know how to do the italics thing)

          • Was it you that was talking about their guilt over enjoying the new After the Burial?

          • RJA

            It was not – I had to look up who that was actually. I have lots of guilt over enjoying other things though.

          • Dubs

            Confess to me.

          • RJA

            Ha, I meant musically! I’ve long stopped enjoying the other types of things in life you might feel guilty for….cuz old.

          • Dubs

            Confess your musical sins then.

          • RJA

            I’m sure I have a lot of little ones, the biggest one being I saw Phish 50+ times in the late 90’s. I wouldn’t say I’m ashamed but I’m not exactly proud of it either – still listen to them from time to time.

          • DVRKBEVRD

            should i downvote?

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            You should upvote for his honesty

          • RJA

            I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do. I can take the heat!

          • Dubs

            This would be very upsetting to JJD.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Why have you forsaken me?

          • I’ve seen Phish 5 times, no apologies.

          • RJA

            I knew somebody else would come out from the shadows!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            You all already know most of them.

          • Dubs

            This confession is for RJA.

          • hmmm. Anyone remember who that was??

          • DVRKBEVRD

            that sounds more like you GL

          • HA I did buy it today. It is banging!

            SOMEONE else was into though. It might have been Waynecro, now that I really think about it….

          • Dubs

            without spaces

          • ( . ) ( . )

          • I think you mean ( . ) ( . ) with spaces.

            huehuefartz

          • DAMNIT it took out the extra spaces. sheeet

          • Dubs

            Link, those are too big for you.

      • Maybe bro. Maybe.

  • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

    This review has me salivating with anticipation. I can’t wait for April 15th. This record is going to kick much ass and cleave much skull. Good work Stanley!

  • Spear

    These riffs are mighty meaty.

  • Rob M

    Awesome…was completely unaware they had a new album coming out

    • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

      And now you know.

      • Rob M

        Goddammit..I know where your going with this and Im not going to fall for it

        • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

          Going with the image that was included?

          • Rob M

            … stupid Disqus and their spotty embedding just completely failed me there

          • if only Disqus knew how many fights start because of its failings…

          • Rob M

            ..or does it?

          • ..

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            So is that what you were going for?

          • Rob M

            Image didnt come through for me originally…I thought you had only posted the first part and were trying to get me to finish the quote

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            Ah, just checking. YO JOE!!!!!!!!

          • Rob M

            …and now I can never show my face here again

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            But why?

          • Rob M

            Kidding…

            …sorry about that..just a bad joke. Im actually digging this site, dont know why I didnt spend more time here before

          • HERE>>>>>>>>>> OVERTHERE, SLOTHMAN.

          • Rob M

            Got that right

          • ha!
            ..

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            I dunno man, there’s no fucking filthy Finns over there.

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            Welcome to your new home.

          • Sir Tapir The Based
          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            You bastard

          • DOWNVOTED

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            I’d be concerned had you upvoted.

          • YOUR LOGIC IS SOUND AND TRUE, FRIEND.

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            Stop yelling at me.

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      Oh you didn’t know? Your ass better call somebody!

  • Good work, Stanley!

  • Stanley

    Protip: Don’t sneak off to the gym when your article is published. Have fun and enjoy the record. Those plates aren’t going to lift themselves.

    • Dubs

      Stay. Joe will left them for you.

      • DVRKBEVRD

        *try to

      • Stanley

        I’m back now and there are no donkey kong memes in the comments. I’d consider that a success.

  • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

    Utter Metal
    Arrant Metal
    Unmitigated Metal
    Thorough Metal
    Consummate Metal
    Optimum Metal
    Ne Plus Ultra Metal
    Utmost Metal
    Supreme Metal
    Archetypal Metal

  • DVRKBEVRD

    OT: im going to be buying a new deck here soon. i know this has been asked in here before but i was wondering what players everyone here used.

    • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

      What game are we talking here?

      • DVRKBEVRD

        record players (turntables)

        • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

          Fuck I’m a dingus. That’s twice today. Time to clock out and go home.

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            Boss the Dingus Ross

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            I’ll reserve that for when i really mess up

        • COAL ROLL

          Onkyo CP-1150f w Acutex 320III STR cartridge

          • DVRKBEVRD

            thats an oldie but a goodie then? what kind of preamp are ou using?

          • COAL ROLL

            As far as I can tell, it was last sold around ’80 or 81.
            My receiver is a Sony STR-AV770 and has a built in preamp.

          • DVRKBEVRD

            im hoping one of the local pawn shops will have a similar receiver with a preamp

          • COAL ROLL

            You might have better luck at a thrift store, or looking on craigslist.
            I looked and looked and looked at pawn shops for months for a set up only to be repeatedly told there was no market for any electronics except flat screen tv’s and video game systems. I bought my entire set up off craigslist from a retired CFO who was getting outta here and moving down where you are.

          • DVRKBEVRD

            i guess ill just try all of the above

    • COAL ROLL

      tape deck? I have a Technics RS-T25 and it’s so so
      I also have an older silver Onkyo that was the tits until the drive belt melted. They don’t make the belts anymore

      • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

        I have a tape deck… with some Creedence.

        • COAL ROLL

          I’ve seen it rain on a sunny day

    • Ion Tape2PC USB Cassette Deck

      • DVRKBEVRD

        sry, i was talking turntables

        • Nothing special. Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive .

          • DVRKBEVRD

            gotcha. im looking for something a tad pricier i think

          • DVRKBEVRD

            perhaps one of the lower end Pro- Ject tables. the AT120 has a built in preamp tho

          • Stanley

            And the USB out, so it’s dead easy to rip your vinyl for listening on-the-go.

          • DVRKBEVRD

            i assume you have one too. is there a lot of motor hum or flutter?

          • Nope. Really quiet.

          • Stanley

            See comment above. Maybe it’s just mine.

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            How does that treat you?

          • It makes noise so, it treats me well.

          • COAL ROLL

            but does it sounds like distant raspy mouth breathing through the business end of a sewer pipe?

          • Sometimes.

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            Ha! I bought the LP60 as my first player, and was thinking about upgrading to the 120

          • DVRKBEVRD

            the only big issue with the 60 is the the arm isnt coubterbalanced

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            Yeah, it’s not a bad player, but that is a con. It was on sale when i bought it though. I feel like it’s a decent starter

          • Stanley

            The only downside that I’ve noticed is, because it is direct drive, you can hear the motor.

          • I guess I just never really listened for it. The blasphemous noise coming from my speakers overpowers that shit anyways.

          • Stanley

            True. Obviously when the music’s playing you can’t hear it, but I notice it when i’m paying attention ripping vinyl.

          • Ah, I see. I’ve never ripped any of my records.

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            The 120 is direct? My 60 is belt. That’s weird that they’d do that. Does it affect your usb recording?

          • Stanley

            Yep, it’s direct. How would it affect the recording? Noise?

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            You said you could hear the motor, i didn’t know if that extra noise was picked up in the recording process at all.

          • Stanley

            Yes, it records what you hear. You can also see it in the waveform in Audacity.

          • Boss the “Hoss” Ross

            Okay, thanks man.
            Sorry for badgering you with questions today.

          • Stanley

            Not at all.

  • COAL ROLL

    I like these Barbarian guys.

  • Waynecro

    Excellent review. Thanks!

  • Lacertilian

    Cheers Stan, I cranked their first album on Monday following that comment you made on the Sunday Sesh. Good fun riffs, looking forward to this one a little more now.