Saturday 28 April 2018

Scientist - BARBELITH (Album Review)

Release date: April 20th 2018. Label: Self Released. Format: DD

BARBELITH – Tracklisting

1.chokhmah/binah 05:49
2.magick mirror 05:56
3.barbelith 06:10
4.fiction suit 05:47
5.retrograde 04:00
6.shed this meat 05:23
7./(home)/ at last 04:59


Eric Plonka - guitar,vox
Justin Cape - drums
Patrick Auclair - guitar,vox
Mathew Milligan - bass
Barry Kotarba - vocals


I’ve been a fan of Progressive Doom/Sludge Metallers – Scientist – ever since they released their debut album back in 2013. However I’ve never reviewed any of their records. So it’s time to correct that with their brilliantly heavy and quite thrilling new offering – Barbelith.

The first thing that stands out with this album is how complex and deeply progressive this album is compared to previous Scientists albums. The band have recruited a full time vocalist for this album. Barry Kotarba brings his “A” game to this album. Eric Plonka handled guitars and vocals on the previous albums. This time round Barry is in the driving seat with the vocals. However the other members still bring their heavy progressive Doom/Sludge Metal sounds to the party.

Opening track – Chokhmah/Binah – has a blackened Sludge Metal approach but Scientist manage to inject their trademark style Psychedelic/Doom based sound. The song is quite riff-centred at times and it’s good to hear Scientist let loose with their music whilst still offering a heavy psychedelic feel.

Second track – Magick Mirror – has a more Death Metal feel but still maintaining a Progressive/Psychedelic Sludge Metal sound. The guitars feel influenced by Mastodon and Neurosis. However Scientist build upon these influences and manage to create their own unique sound. And I’m fairly sure I can hear some Organ type instrument being played. Maybe it’s just me losing grip on all reality. I blame that on the music. As Scientist veer into many different musical directions on this song. It can be very hard to keep up. This is one of the most intelligent and emotional songs on the album.

Third track – Barbelith – is the standout song on the album. As it’s another complex sounding Doom/Sludge Metal song with pitch-black moments of heavy thrash based guitars. The clean and death based vocals work superbly well. One moment the song is quite scary and intense, the next, the clean vocals appear and the song changes into a more reflective song that TOOL would rightly be proud to call their own.

I should have mentioned that Barbelith is a concept album based on the following:

"the search for life's meaning through the use of psychedelics and the occult, only to discover that you haven't even been born yet"

That explains a lot about Barbelith. As this is a complex and mysterious sounding album. Scientist are not only living up to the name with their complex melodies but also with the highly intelligent lyrics written throughout the album.

Other standout songs include: Friction Suit, Retrograde and Shed This Meat. As Scientist build upon their claim at being one of the most original sounding Doom/Sludge Metal bands currently out there today. I’m not kidding. Listen to their impressive back catalogue and you can bear witness to a band creating highly intelligent sounding albums.

Barbelith is an album that you simply cannot ignore. Scientist have created something special with Barbelith. Not many bands can release great music such as this. However Scientist have done it again and perhaps outdone themselves here. As they’ve released their best album to date.

Words by Steve Howe