Sitra Achra (2013) By xDemoNx

Before “Sitra Achra”, I didn’t even know that Black Metal exists in New Zealand, something that made me to look forward to listen to it, more than the usual anxiety that I could feel when I’m about to listen to a new band. I refer to Barshasketh from New Zealand that they consist of four members, they were formed in 2009 and they have released two demos and two full length albums. When I received “Sitra Achra”, their second album which was released in 2013, the disappointing cover made me a little nervous about the music of the album. Fortunately by the first track already I understood that the music of this album has nothing in common with its rough artwork. So here seven tracks are contained of about sixty six minutes of duration, of fast, Scandinavian Black Metal with influences also from dsbm but also from Thrash and Epic.

Most of the tracks consist mainly of fast and powerful riffs which heavily remind of the Scandinavian sound. However several times the fast riffs are replaced by slow, dark, disharmonic riffs that we would come across in a dsbm band. Finally, the band also lets their influences of the more epic sound be seen with several Bathory-like parts, while both the Thrashy parts are not absent. There is much variety in the riffs and a lot of changes inside the tracks, while generally they are structured well so that, despite their long duration (about eight to ten minutes each), they don’t become tedious, instead they are quite interesting. Regarding the instruments, the band is at a quite high level. The guitars are distorted, without mistakes, played with accuracy and much feeling. The drums have interesting lines, while they fill the sound and at the same time they offer stability and certainty to the listener.

Unfortunately, the bass isn’t audible at all, something that didn’t bothered me as the sound has depth and it is as bassy as I would like it to be. On the contrary, what annoyed me was the volume of the vocals. Although it appears that the vocalist does a good job with a lot of changes in his expression and in the style of the vocals depending on the feeling, their volume is quite lower than that it should be and their sound is so dirty that the final result is corrupted and of bad quality. Generally, I think that this is a problem of the mixture as the guitars are a lot louder than the rest of the instruments, so they cover the bass and the vocals. The production is good, it puts out a bassy and dark sound which fits to the style of the compositions. The lyrics are written in English and they are not contained in the cd, so I don’t know what they are about.

In general, Barshasketh have done a quite interesting effort. Despite of the mistakes in the mixture, the quality of the album and of the band entirely is obvious, and for sure I will look forward to their next work. Therefore, my first contact with Black Metal of New Zealand has satisfied me and left quite good impressions. “Sitra Achra” is a good album and I suggest you to listen to it.

1. Sitra Achra 06:12
2. Malaise 10:43
3. L'ange du Meridien 08:48
4. Bitter Sagacity 09:23
5. Sonnets To Orpheus 11:52
6. Leaden Horizon 10:00
7. Schlußstück 10:39