Relentless blistering doom, Barren Altar sunk into my skin the moment I began to listen to their debut album Entrenched In The Faults Of The Earth. It is a fitting album title for a band that emerges from California, and like a seismic wave this blackened funeral doom act levels everything in its path. Barren Altar truly take the black metal code to heart with rapid riffs that bellow out filthy sounds from Hell, and mix them with righteous doom melodies that drag you down with foreboding gloom.
Themes of the elements take a center stage with Entrenched In The Faults Of The Earth. “Call to The Waves” is a 12-minute vessel of doom that moves like a thunderous calamity, led in by the dreary track “Submerged,” and a strong instrumental section that might easily lull you into a mistaken sense of peace.
“The Great Awakening of Death” is clearly a song title that sticks out and I listened to it with high expectations. This fifteen-minute banger is where the funeral doom gets a powerful presence on the album. After a pretty fierce introduction, the song just sinks into the depths and it swallowed me whole with dark riffs and enchanting harmonies. Ghastly reverb made me cringe in all of the right ways, as I pictured a twirling void over an apocalyptic cityscape. The track has three parts, and concludes with a tranquil lamentation that erupts into one of the most powerful waves of blackened doom I’ve ever heard. You could almost watch the whole world burn while listening to this.
The final track on the album, “Delirium Vivens,” is a chilling blackened assault that evokes memories of old school Emperor. It rolls along with a crushing rhythm spawned from the abyss.
This album is definitely going to turn some heads. I could not think of a more worthy debut for a band in this genre. Barren Altar’s Entrenched In The Faults Of The Earth is available for streaming and buying at their Bandcamp page.