Barishi – Barishi (Self-Released)

Wednesday, 29th January 2014
Rating: 8/10

Comfortably under the progressive umbrella, yet with enough capacity to elude those pesky to-the-point descriptions, Vermont’s Barishi have rolled out a dynamic batch of tunes with their self-titled debut. The band – who formed in 2010 – originally started as an instrumental ensemble before adding vocalist Sascha Simms, and employ a wide spate of ideas across these eight tunes, none of which tend to overlap. Thus, there’s a noticeable ebb and flow the proceedings; it’s almost effortless with these gents, who even manage to avoid the trap-door of prog over-indulgence. It must be those verdant mountains in Southern Vermont, eh?

Anyway, the saxophone jerks that pop up on opener “Sky Burial” aren’t a harbinger of what’s to come, but more of a table-setter in terms of the album’s scope. And while there aren’t too many excursions of that sort (the sax also happens on “Holy Mountain”), they are well-placed and fitting of Barishi’s progressive-minded front. The real action comes in the form of the aforementioned “Holy Mountain,” which finds Simms getting his Jon Anderson (YES) on, then jostling along over the near-spazz oriented jazz metal with razor-throated growls, of which also appear on the excellent “The Rider.”

The airy caress of “Through Mountains, Through Plains” finds more clean vocal action from Simms, but also some crafty chord movements and some stop-on-a-dime shifts. And in alignment with the band’s all-instrumental past, “A Place That Swallows All Rivers” makes its way via psychedelic riffing (think a less distorted prime-era Opeth). Point being, there’s a cache of can’t-miss ideas here, the type that can get down the heavier prog metal spectrum, as well as the outlier crowd who usually take a pass at such bands like The Mars Volta or even The Dillinger Escape Plan, although Barishi is far more reigned-in than those fellows. Regardless of how it’s diced, Barishi’s self-titled debut is impressive all the way through.

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