Barrowlands is a relatively unknown Pacific Northwest act who seems to be taking a stab going at a style of black metal which has been well traveled in the past. Progressive and atmopsheric black metal is something that others have done many times. Include the fact these guys are from the pacific northwest and images of Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room, Alda, and Ash Borer quickly comes to mind. To play in the similar style which experienced brief popularity a few years ago is commendable as the style is conceptually sound albeit without much surprise. I set Barrowlands up for a lot as “Cascadian black metal” feels like a boom town which now lies emptier than before. Bands who continue the sound do so at a cost, which sometimes yields a greater triumph when successful.
Thane is Barrowland’s debut release following their 2012 demo. A majority of Thane can be heard on the band’s demo minus songs like “On Bent Boughs” and “Alabaster.” Aside from the music primary inspiration of the Cascadian style, Thane retains a charm which stems from the ability of its members to make interesting music regardless well worn styles. The tremelo blurs and use of cellos as accents in Thane are surprisingly sweet and used with delicate grace. “Mother of Storms, the album’s strongest track, is a fantastic execution of harsh vocals fused with melodic instrumentation.
Barrowlands, at the moment, seems to be doing well for themselves. Opening for the likes of Spectral Tombs and Arkona, this northwest band is proving to be a reliable act with material to match their adventuresome spirit. I feel Thane is important as it shows an audience that well publicized styles of music can be played with the same level of intensity as before. If one has lamented the loss of Cascadian black metal or just any harsh music with a feeling of wanderlust, then Thane should ease the pangs of pain.