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Saturnal (2017)
Rating: 8/10

From Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

Definition of Barathrum

1: a bottomless pit or abyss:


And that sums it up nicely regarding Barathrum, an innovator of the classic Finnish, black-doom style that’s influenced countless bands in this hellish genre. Now, nine studio albums in, Barathrum is back, stronger than ever, and Fantatiko, the band’s first album in 12 years, is a testament to that blasphemed sound they originated 26 years ago when they were spat forth from metal’s dark womb.

In order to properly look at Fanatiko, it’s important to see how this record fits into the band’s sinister discography and how it stacks up, specifically to their first two records, Hailstorm (1995) and Eerie (1995), both crucial mid-90s releases that were extremely important in establishing a new precedent for how Finnish black metal would sound and be perceived today. Unfortunately, the band would eventually go on hiatus, but three new songs surfaced on a split 10-inch with Epäkristus in 2010 that stirred hope that Barathrum might rise from the grave. Worry not dear friends, Fanatiko is a return to the band’s early grandeur and Barathrum truly is back.

Fanatiko isn’t straight up, proper black metal, per se. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a few tunes that tread that direction but for the most part it’s a solid mix of heavy rock that goes back and forth between hints of Celtic Frost, as in the second song ‘Pope Corpse Tattoo’ – which might be my favourite – as well as Venom on ‘Church Amok’, and the title track itself which closes out the record.

Barathrum are at their strongest when they’re reaching deep inside themselves, digging around, searching for the blackest, filthiest metal they can conjure forth. ‘On The Dark River Bank’ is a prime example a mere three songs in. Now keep in mind that this is after we’ve been bludgeoned with ‘Hellspawn’ and ‘Pope Corpse Tattoo’. By this point, most bands slow it down, but Barathrum do the opposite and bore full steam ahead. The remainder of Fanatiko is a glorious mix of the heaviest of metal rife with Barathrum’s signature, Finnish black-doom style, running through each song; lest we not forget who this band is, and how black their blood runs.

All in all, Barathrum have returned with a vengeance, and Fanatiko is a fine mark of the beast. It’s good, solid metal that’ll satisfy the staunchest of critics and fans alike. In a day and age of cookie cutter nonsense and black metal wannabes, Barathrum are back… and they’re here to stay.

Theron Moore

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