Review: Barrow Wight – Kings in Sauron’s Service

Posted: October 16, 2016 in Reviews
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Canadian heavy metallers Barrow Wight started off as a high school Venom tribute band, and their take on the world of JRR Tolkien keeps much of that early influence. Referencing much from Middle Earth, from the Dwimmerlaik (the Rohan word for spectre or phantom) to Grond (the battering ram used to break the gates of Gondor), this is music put together by folk who know their stuff.

Not only their Tolkien knowledge is tight; their capturing of classic 80s metal riffs is also on point. After the swelling intro, first track ‘No Sleep Till Gondor’ (I see what you did there) is classic Venom worship, that point in time where heavy metal and black metal started to splinter. That NWOBHM gallop is still in full effect, as shown in the excellent ‘Osgiliath’, but there’s plenty of rawer moments. Even the most infectious rock of ‘The Cult’ has this grimy aesthetic. No super clean production or anything here, as the rumbling dark ‘Grond’ will testify to.

There’s a punkish simplicity to this as well which is endearing. The obvious Venom leanings of ‘In League With Sauron’ bleeds into this strange keyboard-led section before returning to riffs, but you never feel overwhelmed by anything other than great songs and passionate delivery. The propulsive bass of ‘Dwimmerlaik’, the gloomy wanderings of ‘The Palantir’ and the kick ass riffery of ‘Harrower of the Dark’, Barrow Wight hit all the right notes.

‘Kings in Sauron’s Service’ isn’t technical, shiny or even remotely original. But that’s what makes it so great. You’ve got 10 songs of heavy fucking metal that breathes that time where everything was a little bit simpler. And for that, Barrow Wight should be praised, because this is totally excellent!


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