Barishi burst on the scene three years ago with their self-titled debut, an interesting mash of prog metal and hardcore that made more than a few ears perk up. While it was still rough around the edges, Barishi showed a lot of potential and had fans of heavier prog anxious to see what they would do next. Blood From the Lion’s Mouth is their sophomore release, and can best be summed up as “two steps forward, one step back.”
Musically things get off to a heavy start with thick riffing and rolling drums on “Grave of the Creator.” More heavy than prog, until upon closer listen the chords are certainly a little off-kilter, and there is a hint of acoustic guitar in the background – clearly a result of guitarist Graham Brooks writing the bulk of the record on acoustic guitar. Singer Sascha Simms comes in with his hardcore screaming, and the song pummels the listener over a quick four minutes. It is an aggressive, yet strangely melodic and promising start to the album.
The next two songs are similar in length, structure and feel to the opener. “Blood from the Lion’s Mouth” and “The Great Ennead” both have interesting chord progressions and arrangements, but on the flip side they are both a continuation of Simm’s hardcore growls and shrieks, which doesn’t always fit the more melodic parts of the songs.
The best material on the album comes in the second half. “Death Moves in Silence” starts quietly, with delay and reverb-soaked guitar lines and airy drums before Simms jumps in to hardcore-ify the song. “Master Crossroads, Baron Cemetery” opens with blast beats and makes the best use of harsh vocals on the entire record. It’s a furious song.
Things are a bit more psychedelic with “Bonesetter,” which opens and closes with bizarre echoing distorted words before a circular bass line kicks in to preface a great proggy jam. “The Deep” is a nine minute epic, a post-metal, slightly blackened prog opus that has the band performing at their best. Those two songs are the best on the record.
The biggest problem with Blood From the Lion’s Mouth is the vocals. On their debut three years ago, vocals were a mix of harsh and clean, evoking different moods for different movements. Traditionally, bands in the heavier prog metal end of the spectrum have slowly abandoned the harsh vocals as they have evolved, but Barishi do the opposite. The entire record has Simms shrieking, and honestly, eight songs of this is too much. At times the shrieks shred the listener’s ears in a good way, but for the most part they just become tiresome, and detract from the fantastic music playing beneath the cacophony.
On Blood From the Lion’s Mouth Barishi show they’ve got some serious prog metal chops, and an interesting take on the genre. If they utilize a more varied vocal approach they’ll be capable of releasing a real gem, but this album isn’t quite there.
(released September 16, 2016 on Season of Mist)