Fanges by BarúsRelease date: December 31, 2021
Label: Aesthetic Death
As part of the ever-fascinating Eptagon Collective, an assembly of experimentalists working in extreme metal, digital art and sound engineering, Barús have always strived to push boundaries within their work. Their 2016 debut was a mind-cracking whirlwind of death metal fury and time signatures that would leave Coalesce sweating, while its follow-up full-length Drowned played more with tempo and atmosphere but latest release Fanges stretches their loose connection to ‘genre’ music even further from breaking point. Composed of two pieces, each coming from the same creative viewpoint but with radically different approaches to their construction, it’s a striking yet challenging work.
As the lengthiest, and most overtly ‘experimental’ piece, ‘Fanges’ is both a highlight and a departure for the band. Composed remotely during the early stages of lockdown and recruiting musician Anthony Barruel and writer Sarah Onave into the creative process, it is a fractured but expressive composition that stresses progressive structuring and open space to create a mesmeric yet unsettling sonic environment. Sparse, distorted melodies intertwine and radiate throughout its opening passages, Barruel’s primordial percussive beat picking up pace and urgency until the whole things collapses in on itself. A lilting acoustic guitar emerges from the resulting silence, a moment of respite and beauty, before the first real sense of anything ‘metal’ makes itself known. Vocalist K (a.k.a. Caïnan Dawn’s Keithan) takes a unique approach, tempering his mania with the blunt conviction of a fire-and-brimstone preacher, and the groovy chug of guitar sways to and fro giving a faintly queasy feeling that never really seems to dissipate. As with Barús’ earlier works, much of Fanges’ strength stems from a willingness to explore genre, and by pairing gentle melody, dissonance and brute-force power, they demonstrate a willingness to push their ethos further than before.
The second half of the EP, ‘Châssis de Chair’ is a more direct counterpart to its opening. Rather than being constructed in fragments over time and space, it was recorded live in their rehearsal space and the immediacy of that session is evident. It’s more visceral, immediately bombarding the ears with juddering stop-start blasts of death metal that feel like being lost in a sandstorm of razorblades. When softer passages take over, they bristle with tension, the muttered whispers draped over them doing little to soften the creeping unease. Despite the heavier approach, there’s still a great deal of intricacy on display, with A’s drums flitting between expressionist flurries and laser-focused precision with an unpredictable kind of grace, and given that it’s the shorter of two pieces delivered here, its riffs waste less time in hammering an impression into the skull.
Taken together, the two halves of Fanges confidently bridge the gap between what has come before and what the band have always shown the potential to create. Those who were already on board will lap up what’s here but anyone who’s interested in challenging music being made by skilled artists will want to have a listen to this. Barús have it in them to create something groundbreaking; and Fanges is so very nearly there already.