Monday, 17 December 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Babarian Hermit, "Solitude and Savagery"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/10/2018
Label: APF Records

“Solitude and Savagery” deserves serious attention and is undoubtedly one of the breakout releases of this year


“Solitude and Savagery” CD//DD track listing:

1. Enter the Hermitage
2. Black Mass
3. No Sleep
4. Beyond the Wall
5. Lifebreather
6. Reawaken
7. Laniakea

The Review:

Barbarian Hermit hail from Manchester and play crushing stoner/sludge/doom. This is a band that is not afraid to play aggressively- like High on Fire- but also slow; like any doom band worth their salt you can name. The opener, “Enter The Hermitage,” sets it out for you. Straight in, no messing about, just some huge and fuzzy riffs with some maniac (Ed Campbell- who showcases serious versatility elsewhere!) shouting over the top.

There is plenty of variety here, too. There are passages of more thoughtful and melancholy music, both in the first and second track and beyond. There is quite some range on display. Suffice it to say, that by track two (“Black Mass”) I was absolutely sold on this album. This is what is needed in the underground and beyond at the moment- a band sounding not like anyone else, but featuring the best elements of quite a few bands. There is something here for fans of many different bands and sub genres. You like Orange Goblin? Try these guys out. You like High on Fire, ditto. In fact, from Sabbath to The Sword and from Conan to Candlemass: Barbarian Hermit may just appeal to fans of all those bands.

There are shades of the likes of Raging Speedhorn and The Rotted in “No Sleep” (and Motorhead, of course) while the epic might of “Beyond The Wall” is crushingly powerful with a fantastic solo. Nothing outstays its welcome here; there are no short songs and most tracks stretch out over six minutes plus (the closing “Laniaka” is eleven epic minutes!) but it all feels like it flies by at a clip. The band's approach makes this happen; each track is different and brings a slightly different approach, while remaining consistent in vibe and feel. It's no small trick to pull off but the band achieve it with ease. This is a proper album and I think one that might become very influential going forward.

This is not simple two chord/two piece sludge and nor is it just Sleep worship or a cheap copy of any other band. The production, courtesy of the effervescent Chris Fielding at Skyhammer studio is immense and as usual Chris has achieved a crushing drum, guitar and bass sound. The clarity of the mix and the sheer weight adds a good deal of muscle to the album and, having worked with Chris myself, I can hear his audio-stamp of authenticity throughout the record.

The album is just as weighty down the stretch- “Reawaken” features a riff that Iommi would be proud of and some guitar work that Mastodon might find a home for on any of their better work. “Life Breather” before it is versatile and deft in its mood swings. The aforementioned “Laniaka” is eleven minutes of schizophrenic and groovesome riffage. It's a tour de force ending to one of the best albums I have heard in 2018.

Barbarian Hermit have it; that intangible factor that makes this album like lightning in a bottle. “Solitude and Savagery” deserves serious attention and is undoubtedly one of the breakout releases of this year. These guys could really fly the flag for the UK underground and reach the heights of Conan; as a singular band operating in a field of one. They'll spawn imitators, sure, but I know the real deal when I hear it. Superb.

“Solitude and Savagery” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook