Progressive stoner metal is in an interesting place right now. On one hand, there’s a slew of releases being published. Bands like Family, Warm, King Goat and, of course, Intronaut and Baroness are all bringing their on take on odd time signatures veiled in thick riffs and a waft of smoke. However, there are also appears to be a certain lethargy and repetitiveness which is inherent to the sub-genre as a whole. Something about the main type of dynamic between vocals, riffs and production is stagnant, going beyond signature and style and into the realms of repetition and imitation. It’s a good thing then that we have Barishi to break the mold. Their brand of progressive stoner metal takes plenty of risks and is the better for it; Blood From a Lion’s Mouth was released a couple of weeks and is a great indication of the possibilities of the genre.
The greatest departure from the established progressive stoner sound are the vocals. Instead of the honey drenched drawl that is so common on these type of releases, backed as it is by heavier growls, the predominant style here is much higher in pitch and constantly abrasive. Somewhere between screams and growls, the vocals are beyond a doubt the main fuel which propels Blood From a Lion’s Mouth (both the album and the self-titled track linked above) along its energetic trajectory. Beyond the tone of the vocals, their structure also enjoys welcome innovation in the form of differently constructed tracks. Instead of the usual verse/chorus/verse/solo/breakdown that infect so much of stoner metal (think of Mastodon‘s Crack the Skye, an incredible album but one whose structure is obvious from a mile away), Barishi’s vocals are all over the place, appearing and disappearing from within the instruments.
Which is not to say they’re the only strong suit of the album, by far. The guitars also deserve any compliments we can give them; they’re perhaps more math-y and varied than we would expect on a stoner release. Listen for their unexpected screeches on “The Great Ennead” for example; they caterwaul in the background, infusing the track with the feeling of a full bodied composition. The drums serve that goal excellently on that track as well, both fills and steady lines doing wonders to the volume of the entire creation. Perhaps that, when vocals and instruments are tallied together, is the most endearing quality of Barishi. They sound massive just like their brethren-in-genre but they do it without turning to repetition or feedback. Instead, they utilize clever and varied compositions to create a thick, dexterous canvas that is both impressive and yet, somehow, not overwhelming.