Album Review: Solitude and Savagery // Barbarian Hermit

 Barbarian Hermit are a quintet from Manchester who play a sludge influenced sound that is bone-crushingly heavy. Having played Bloodstock festival and toured with the likes of Crowbar they are set to release their new album, ‘Solitude and Savagery’ on Friday 16th October.

Before the band recorded the album, they had lost three members in six months. That kind of loss would de-rail any band, but Barbarian Hermit didn’t let this get to them, recruiting vocalist Ed Campbell, drummer Gareth Manning, and bassist Rob Sutcliff. The vision for the new album was realised when they enlisted Chris Fielding (Electric Wizard, Conan) to produce the album. Of the recording sessions, guitarist Adam Robertshaw said that Fielding had a strong ear for melodies, “suggesting harmonies or adaptations here and there.” On ‘Solitude and Savagery’, you can really hear this melodic side that is present in the catchy riffs and vocals.

 

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On the second track, ‘Black Mass’, there is a clean guitar tone that is reminiscent of ‘Planet Caravan’ by Black Sabbath, before giving way to a monster of a riff that reflects the dark lyrical tone. The drumming performance is extremely fluid, complimenting the riffs very well. This track, like the majority of the tracks on the record, features droning riffs that take you on a soul-searching journey to find the truth. The multiple key changes on ‘Black Mass’ are astonishingly heavy.

The dark, challenging undertones continue on ‘No Sleep’, with a fast riff and Campbell’s gutturals, which are a change of pace and are reminiscent of Sleep. The track also features a downtuned breakdown, showing how diverse the band’s brand of sludge is. Then, you have the seven-minute onslaught of ‘Beyond the Wall.’ The main driving riff takes you into another world as if you’re halfway through a long pilgrimage. The repetitiveness of it does not grate but instead finds its way into the listeners’ head until it comes to an abrupt halt.

‘Reawaken’ is the lead single from the album. This is the best track on the album because it has a riff that would not be out of place in a film score. It builds and builds until all of a sudden Campbell launches a massive growl: “Reaawaakeen” and it’s majestic, like a monster ready to strike. Coincidentally, Hans Zimmer’s scores inspired this track. This makes even more sense, as it blows your mind and melts your face.

An album that delves strongly into soul-searching, ‘Solitude and Savagery’ is not an easy listen. It needs time, but after a few listens, you can see how huge the riffs are, and that Barbarian Hermit has put their entire heart and soul into this project. An example of this is the eleven-minute ‘Laniakea’, which is the final piece in the puzzle. The backing vocal harmonies followed by the doom-influenced riff sound like a journey through the Underworld. This goes on for around three minutes, but stick with it and out comes a guitar solo, which sounds superb on a big speaker.

With the reputation that Barbarian Hermit are carving out, ‘Solitude and Savagery’ is an album that will please their fans and metalheads alike. It soundtracks a tough journey to find one’s soul, but you’ll feel all the better for embarking upon it.

 

Words by Ermis Madikopoulos

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