Premiere: Barrens – “Atomos” Brings Dark Cinematics


We could all use a little more optimism these days. Not that blind optimism that believes in karmic retribution or some dorky invisible force for justice. We’re not that dumb. What we need is an optimism that dreads the innumerable difficulties in front of us, but has a slight hope that a spark, created intentionally or not, can ignite the engine that drives improvement. Barrens completely nails this state of being on “Atomos”.

The post-rock trio creates a dense shadowy atmosphere with a distorted screaming guitar and a perfectly restrained beat, but contrasting the weight are delightful ringing melodies and that high-pitch tremolo often found in happy-sad atmospheric black metal. The three parts seem to take turns being the optimistic one while the others ground it in reality. The accompanying video adds another layer, showing there’s beauty to be found, but it fades in and out of view. The lens is tainted, and it’s impossible to override completely.

Penumbra as a whole is an exercise in balancing oppression with catharsis. It hits you with a desolate landscape: a tom and snare crawl / a down-tuned riff / a malfunctioning electronic synth layer, then a cymbal crashes / a melody kicks in / the tempo triples and suddenly everything is okay, for a moment.

These guys can evoke with the best of them, This Will Destroy You, Pelican, God is an Astronaut, etc. Penumbra is out April 10 via Pelagic Records.

North America

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