Witness the triumphant return of the most dangerous and blasphemous Finnish beast of Black Metal of all time with their first full-length album in 12 years.
Forged in the scathing fires of the Finnish city of Kuopio in the distant year of 1990, the unrelenting Helsinki-based six-piece squad Barathrum, one of the founding fathers of Finnish Black Metal, is back with their highly anticipated ninth full-length studio album, titled Fanatiko (which by the way is the Greek word for “fanatic”, as the Finnish word has a few additional letters being spelled “fanaatikko”), their first full-length album in 12 years and, more important than that, a new start for this infernal cult featuring the blasphemy and aggressiveness of the Black and Doom Metal of their earliest albums and also the rowdy, almost-tribal Heavy Metal of their later years, all bound together by a truly devilish and gleefully infectious charisma that only Barathrum can deliver.
The band’s first two full-length albums, Hailstorm and Eerie (both released in 1995), were foundational in establishing the filthy sound for which Finnish Black Metal is now known worldwide, and also for featuring a unique and sinister setup of two bass guitars. Furthermore, their following releases kept spreading darkness and blasphemy upon humanity, maintaining the name of Barathrum rumbling through the four corners of the planet and haunting the souls of the lighthearted. By the way, the first letter from each full-length album until their 2005 release Anno Aspera: 2003 Years After Bastard’s Birth in chronological order spell out “Heil Sova”, referring to the band’s frontman and mastermind Demonos Sova. Well, although I have no idea if the letter “F” from Fanatiko is the beginning of a new word for Barathrum (perhaps even the famous F-word), I’m sure that after listening to this bestial album at top volume you’ll definitely need to buy a new sound system.
Metallic bass lines and rockin’ drums generate the perfect belligerent atmosphere for Demonos Sova to start barking like a demon in Hellspawn, a precise fusion of Black Metal with Hardcore and Punk Rock where the dirty and trenchant sound of the guitars by Raakalainen and Pelceboop keep the music as ungodly and nefarious as it can be. In the beautifully entitled Pope Corpse Tattoo, Barathrum keep firing their visceral sounds, with old school Black Metal riffs and unstoppable grunts filling all spaces in the music. Moreover, drummer Vendetta proves he can be at the same time a blackened stone crusher and a groovy punk rocker with his beats, therefore expanding the musical range of the entire band. And with Pelceboop blasting sharp riffs and solos while guest musician Kate Boss increases the obscurity of the music with her ritual bowls, we’re treated to a menacing old school Doom Metal feast in On the Dark River Bank, until suddenly all hell breaks loose and we’re then smashed by a sheer Black Metal onslaught, making you feel darkness and despair growing inside your mind and soul.
In Sadistic Pleasure, the band’s dynamic duo of bassists Ruttokieli and Nuclear Tormentörr once again makes the ground tremble with their low-tuned blazing weapons, inciting us to bang our heads to the song’s darkened rhythm while Demonos Sova keeps growling and gnarling rabidly, whereas in Arx Satanas, a high-octane hymn of the underworld, our brains are mercilessly pierced by the song’s thrashy and cutting riffs. In addition, Vendetta blasts straightforward beats perfect for the musicality crafted by the rest of the band, not to mention the fun explosions and sirens amidst all instruments, generating a chaotic and anarchic ambience that should sound disturbingly fantastic if played live. And Barathrum’s heavy artillery continues to demolish everything and everyone that crosses their path in Church Amok, delivering more old school riffs and satanic drumming for our total delight in the closest to pure Black Metal of all tracks.
A dark shadow I over us all in Spirit of the Damned, where the band generates a tenebrous sonority through their instruments, getting to a deeply Stygian vibe with highlights to the song’s threatening bass and drums. Put differently, it feels like true demonic entities recorded this song, not regular human musicians. Lastly, anything I say about the title-track Fanatiko won’t be enough to describe its insanity. From its wicked intro to its thunderous drums, this bestial aria flawlessly represents what Finnish extreme music is all about, with the tribal and nocturnal way the name of the song is vociferated being simply amazing, concluding the album on the highest possible note.
In summary, the most infamous bastard spawns of the devil himself definitely know how to craft disturbing and violent music, with Fanatiko epitomizing all their vileness and hatred in a sensational way. Barathrum can be found on Facebook in case you want to know more about this demonic horde hailing from Finland, with the immoral Fanatiko being available at the Heretic Underground webshop in CD version, LP version, CD + T-shirt bundle or LP + T-shirt bundle, as well as on Record Shop X in CD or LP format (and soon also at Barathrum’s BandCamp and at the Saturnal Records’ BandCamp). As previously mentioned, if the “F” from Fanatiko is the start of a new phase of the band, I can’t wait to listen to the sonic havoc these guys will provide us with the letters “U”, “C”, and “K” in a near future.
Best moments of the album: Hellspawn, Arx Satanas and Fanatiko.
Worst moments of the album: Sadistic Pleasure.
Release date: 28 April 2017, Saturnal Records
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- Hellspawn 4:01
- Pope Corpse Tattoo 3:43
- On the Dark River Bank 4:52
- Sadistic Pleasure 4:26
- Arx Satanas 4:50