Barishi’s peers are justifiably blamed for missing the point when it comes to bypassing the black metal genre’s indispensable wickedness, but the Vermont trio has never repelled from discomfort. Quite the opposite, in fact— their singular strength of technical musicianship has unlocked new levels to smothering anxiety that would have persisted closed to a more stylistically ‘true’ outfit. Well-honed, angular technical riffing sounds all the more aggravating when it’s released in the atmosphere of a genre that leans forward coupling its lengthier song forms with unpretentiousness and brooding atmosphere. With that said, one can definitely see Barishi as not being an act for everyone.
Ultimately, Barishi has always come across as a progressive metal band primarily; one that decided to put on the darkened veil and more or less stick to the black metal conventions. The affinity for technically demanding and noetic music has persisted, but it hasn’t been until their third full-length outing “Old Smoke” that Barishi sound like they’re finally letting go of the black metal semblance, showing themselves as what they really are. Regardless whether this is still black metal or not, or whether Barishi are now better labeled as progressive or technical metal, it is understandable that “Old Smoke” signals a pace shift for a singularly consistent act.
“Old Smoke” sees Barishi switching tracks in more ways than one. The band has meant to abridge the same amount of ideas into a fragment of the time. This change comes as an eye-opener, but it is relatively effortless to see this as an extension of what the trio has been up to in the past.
The songsmithing on “Old Smoke” starts and stops sharply, and the music is diabolically opaque. The record is moulded on a usual commonness of agitation-inducing technique and confined atmosphere. Usually, one would hold it against a release for being rather unvaried, but there’s the feeling with “Old Smoke” that Barishi have put each and every note where it is with attentive planing.
Barishi have shown what are they made of on “Old Smoke.” Any skepticism someone may have had towards their position within the black metal genre may be somewhat justified, if only for the understanding now that they sound so much more like themselves. The album’s singular focal point on rational technique is, in a way, more finite than the stretching form of past two albums, but it’s nonetheless awe-inspiring to hear a band accentuating their best strengths as such.