By Adrien Begrand
Whenever a veteran metal band undergoes radical changes, like in Amorphis’s case, a new lead singer and a more streamlined sound, even if that shift in direction is successful artistically commercially and artistically, there will always be the stubborn folks in the background bitching and moaning about how their favourite band just isn’t the same as it used to be. Well, if you’re one of those people who still gripe that Skyforger is a sellout and can’t hold a candle to Tales From the Thousand Lakes, first of all, you’re only half right, and secondly, you can give a listen to Finland’s newest supergroup, who approach Amorphis’s classic, folk-infused progressive doom sound as if nary a day has passed since 1994.
Comprised of two former members of Amorphis (keyboardist Kasper Mårtenson and bassist Olli-Pekka Laine, both of whom performed on Thousand Lakes), Moonsorrow’s Janne Perttilä (guitar) and Marko Tarvonen (drums), Kreator guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö, fronted by Swallow the Sun’s talented Mikko Kotamäki, and produced by the inimitable Dan Swanö, Barren Earth’s pedigree certainly lends the project instant credibility, and unlike most supergroups that are promising on paper but fail on record, this debut EP is very good, at times excellent. A project like this is more appealing for its familiarity than its groundbreaking quality, and the quintet performs with gusto on Our Twilight. In addition to providing his usual doomy roar, Kotamäki also lends some very effective clean singing, while Mårtenson, Janne Perttilä, and Yli-Sirniö find a very comfortable middle ground between tasteful riffing and ornate keyboards on all four tracks, sometimes hearkening back to the tasteful progressive rock instrumentals of 1970s greats Camel, sometimes evoking the impassioned extended solos of UFO-era Michael Schenker. Everything melds together quite beautifully at times, a terrific example being the majestic “The Flame of Serenity”, which builds to a graceful, climactic coda, the song, and the entire 22 minute EP for that matter, boding extremely well for Barren Earth’s forthcoming full-length debut, due in early 2010.