Barrow - Being Without Record Label: Mayfly Records
Release Date: December 20, 2011
With their debut, Barrow has created a sandwich with everything on it and it tastes pretty awesome. Barrow takes cues from post-rock instrumentals, “The Wave” and melodies to create an enormous album. Weaving together all of these aspects and keeping it from feeling like too big of a bite seems like it would be a constant struggle but it very rarely slips up throughout.
At the forefront are vocalists Travis Schuster and Zach Tobin, each doing screams and cleans. Both their voices are as impacting and tense as Kyle Durfy of Pianos Become the Teeth. The screams never become stagnant as they continually change roles as well as their technique. And if things come close to getting to one-toned (like once), cleans come in.
Cleans are used melodically to compliment the screams as seen in the opening track “Where I Was” when Schuster and Tobin sing in harmony; bringing bands like As Cities Burn to memory. They are also emotionally driven sometimes getting off-key only to exemplify the feelings of the song. Schuster and Tobin never sound exactly the same. In fact, they change so often I was unable to differentiate who was singing and who was screaming on any given track.
The next element on this enormous sandwich is the post-rock influenced instruments. We’ve seen a move towards this with recent albums like No Devolución. With Tyler Ingram on the bass, Matt Clark on drums, Tobin and Schuster playing guitar with occasional help from David Wimbish it’s easy to fall into a trance in the deep atmospheres created. The nearly 9 minute track “An Absent Crown, My Diadem” is a track where all of this can be seen coming together.
The song starts off with Zach singing in a hushed voice to what sounds almost like an indie rock song. It slowly builds up then climaxes with frantic head-bang ready screams from Gage Speas of To Speak of Wolves. Then it slowly goes back to the square one and it all feels completely natural because that’s just how good they are.
Bob Dylan (they say) was like a sponge picking up from all the folk artists that he loved, Barrow has done the same with modern music. Being Without is a clash of a LOT of AbsolutePunk’s favorite bands mashed up together, transcending genres from song to song and even within songs. If it sounds a bit overwhelming, it is but this is an album that demands attention. If I were a good critic I’d tell you about some awesome detail that I noticed but I’m not so you’ll have to listen and find it for yourself.