Monday, August 15, 2005

If angels could scream

I’m not sure when I fist started listening to this band, but Barrit’s Smiles upon the stroke that murders me continues to be among my favorite albums from its genre. I should clarify what I mean by genre, though, because Barrit were really all over the place, which resulted in a very unique amalgam of sounds – melodic riffing, occasional quiet parts and noise interludes, stomping transitions in place of run-of-the-mill breakdowns and some black metal thrown in for good measure. As a result, Barrit ended up with songs that consisted of tons of little parts and transitions and a fair amount of rhythmic variation, but they always managed to weave together a compelling musical narrative. Smiles feels very complete – it’s one of those records that are best listened to as a whole. The lyrics don’t really do it for me, but, well, it’s not like you can actually make them out anyway.

Something else that always stood out to me and that significantly adds to the flow of Barrit’s music is the vocal layering. While the main vocals are fairly brash, at least two of the other band members (I’m not sure who; I couldn’t figure out who exactly plays what) contribute background vocals, which are more on the high-pitched, screamy end and add to the sense of desperation and malady the music attempts to convey. For a comparison, think of the vocal layering in Neurosis’s 'To crawl under one's skin’ on Souls at Zero or the previously discussed Akephal.

Smiles was recorded in 1998 (and, by the way, produced by Steve Austin) and released by Ellington Records. Prior to that, Ellington also released Barrit’s 7”, recorded in 1996, which features the songs ‘Godless Disease’ and ‘Transient,’ though only the latter one was re-recorded for their full-length. There is a notable difference in the quality of the songwriting between these two songs. ‘Godless disease’ is much more disjointed – I can’t even tell whether that last longer part actually belongs to the song or is just a shorter bonus song they tacked on to fill up that side of the record – while ‘Transient’’ features all of the elements that made Smiles such a good listen: the very effective dual vocals, the transitions from heavier riffing to quieter and more melodic parts etc. But hear for yourself.

Barrit – Godless Disease
Barrit – Transient

As you may know, in March of 2002, Steve Neale, drummer of Barrit and later Ink Cartridge Funeral and father of two, died in a car accident. Visit the Team Neale Scholarship Fund to make a donation and to learn more about the fund.


Blogger Andrew @ AVERSIONLINE said...

This 7" is way fuckin' better than the full-length. Really the only thing I can give this band is that they were ahead of their time with their spectrum of influences. This EP holds up quite well, but I pulled out the CD a month ago for the first time in years and it was nowhere near as strong as I had remembered it being. Way too many boring tremolo picking riffs and the kind of bland junk that became the current wave of melodic Swedish death metalcore.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

I also believe that drummer Steve Neale replaced the vocalist at the very end which eventually led to the formation of Ink Catridge Funeral. I did a show for Barrit in 2000? I believe and that was the lineup they performed with

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a good friend of Steve Neale's and just came across this post. Steve was the only singer that ever sang for barrit (besides Zack Jordan, who did backup vocals). He played drums for Ink Cartridge Funeral. When barrit had their "reunion" show in 2003 (after Steve's death), the singer of Ink Cartridge Funeral (Mike Beshaw) sang in his place.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Itzamna said...

Barrit shredded. I've not heard the 7" before, not as overtly death metal as the album I wouldn't say. Awesome blog by the way.

11:19 AM  
Blogger JFM said...

Thanks for the 7 inch tracks, I think these can be properly classified as incredibly rare. You know any where I can find the Smiles cd? I am still kicking myself for never picking up.

8:36 PM  

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