By Dr. Abner Mality

Is every friggin’ Finn in a metal or hard rock band? Sure seems that way, as I am buried in an avalanche of Finnish artists. Barathrum are one of the elders of that snowy and forested land’s metal scene, having been around since 1990. They are regarded as one of the forefathers of Finnish black metal. Well, let’s see what they’re about…

One thing that smacks me in the mouth right away is the thunderously clear and rumbling bass sound. It hits you immediately on “Hellspawn”. Most bass is almost invisible in black metal circles, but not so with Barathrum. Inspection shows these guys use not one but TWO bass players, so there’s your explanation. “Hellspawn” is simple and meaty and seems to be just as much punk as black metal. The general approach of these guys is basic and relatively mid-paced. The maniacal screaming and shrieking is where they get the black metal from. They have multiple vocalists as well and toss in some guest screamers. On “Arx Satana”, this vocal onslaught becomes overwhelming and the song is drowned.

I find something likable about Barathrum. If you like the simplicity of Hellhammer, Khold and recent Darkthrone, this will be up your alley. Late in the album, they inject keyboards to add atmosphere and they try for an epic feel on the title track, but I really think they are best with beast-like, bass-driven primitivism such as “Sadistic Pleasures” and “Church Amok”.

Another enjoyable effort from Saturnal Records.