Barshasketh seemingly began their life in 2009 with their first demos surfacing from the wilds of New Zealand and making their sinister tones known to this world before vocalist and founder Krigeist left his home country and relocated to Edinburgh, picking up a band along the way and producing “Sitra Achra” in the meantime. Barshasketh are now a fully realised entity, with members from bands such as Haar and Cnoc An Tursa taking their curiously French infused ritual to new planes of raw truth.
Barshasketh are deeply rooted in texts of old and their sound writhes with both agony and occtultic vibrations without sounding overdone or trite in the process. Nods to peers such as Peste Noire come thick and fast, particularly in the title track ‘Sitra Achra’ and the atmosphere it creates. Swirling mists of madness rise from the ashes of the harsh terrain Barshasketh inhabit, Krigeist intoning with growls of great power over sublimely melodic guitar progressions before it heads into pure Peste Noire worship. Which is not to say this is a bad thing in the slightest; it’s clear that Barshasketh hold the French band in high regard and wish only to pay tribute rather than rip them off entirely.
‘Malaise’ is delightfully raw in the production sense yet you can hear that there is something much more terrible at work beneath the surface. There’s hints at a greater force bubbling just below the cries and rhythmic nature of the band and their instrumentation and harmonic moments cut through otherwise heavy textures and add new dimensions of chaos to the dark nature of an already shadowy record. Barshasketh tear through the veils of night with the monumentous offering that is ‘L’Ange du Meridien,’ which twists and turns with a rage unheard of from most bands of this ilk. Where they tend to fail is in the believability of the delivery, but here Barshasketh truly take a hold of their material with utter strength and it’s this deliberate sense of authority that gives this outfit their command.
‘Sonnets to Orpheus’ roils in a fiery pit of riff-based hell; climbing solos give way to stripped back chords which allow the song to breathe a sigh of relief when the torment finally ends as “Sitra Achra” coils towards it’s closing stages of doom. Barshasketh continue their bitter and bleak black metal attack with final track ‘Schlußstück’ and it’s unnerving sense of destruction that perpetuates the moodiness heard throughout the record via doomed structures and the often soaring sound of the guitar (Guillaume – also of Haar and Acatalepsy) off-setting the coarse voice of Krigeist. Frenetic passages of terror infiltrate the latter stages of the song with a classic nuance that recalls the heady days of the second wave acts we all know and love. Drums are pertinent and wildly obvious and Cnoc An Tursa’s Bryan Hamilton does much to bring about a sense of pure aggression in his playing.
Barshasketh may owe a debt to their forefathers but this band are by no means content to tread in their footsteps and consistently outclass other advocates of their genre, and even themselves throughout the blissfully desolate nature of “Sitra Achra.” Engrossing.