Hailing from the mountains of southern Vermont is BARISHI, a progressive metal crack unit looking to stir a few pots of convention with their decidedly unconventional debut album. BARISHI's hybrid music style lies somewhere between screamo, grunge, alt punk, psych and prog. Though hardly like any of them, BARISHI appears to take inspiration and splice from FALL BEFORE THE MARCH OF FLAMES, VOIVOD, TOOL, SOUNDGARDEN and KING CRIMSON.
Formerly a fusion-prog instrumental trio known as ATLATL, the expanded and renamed BARISHI takes adjustment. Gauging by the schizophrenic peals of guest saxophonist Ron Kelley on the opening number "Sky Burial", listeners should expect a weird ride that satisfies in some spots, grates in others.
The guitar rips from Graham Brooks are often spacey and enticing (his best work coming on "The Waves"), the sliding bass grooves of Jon Kelley are funky and linear and drummer Dylan Blake is full of snapcase rhythms and fills, which makes BARISHI worth a listen. However, the omnipresent screeching of Sascha Simms frequently becomes a negating factor against his team's still-blossoming virtuosity. As punch-heavy as "Holy Mountain" and The Rider" already are, the brazen shouting by Simms pushes BARISHI over-the-top.
Jon Kelley's lofting bass and Graham Brooks' happy strumming throughout the excellent instrumental "Exhibiche" creates a nice reprieve from the socked-out hollering of Sascha Simms. "Exhibiche" dispenses with all the tart hostilities from most of the other tracks, serving a sprawling freestyle form that gives Graham Brooks opportunity to lay out a fusion-filled guitar solo that trails a couple meters behind the mounting melody. Later, a second instrumental, "A Place That Swallows All Rivers", rings pleasingly like SCALE THE SUMMIT a few years back while they were still in development.
Sascha Simms dispenses with the yelling (for a while, anyway) on the attractive and eddying "Through Mountains, Through Plains". BARISHI makes the most of their rising and falling tides for most of the 8:07 long track, coming as close to a standard song as they can on this album, albeit the extenuating instrumentation separates the song from being standard. Despite Simms throwing in an unnecessary yelp section, the song lulls through changing melodies and abruptly spiking progressions before resuming the misty principal harmony.
Simply stated, Simms' cleans are much more appealing than his shrieks, proven once again on "Jaguar Scarification Ritual". Simms sets up the seven minute track with likeable "ahhhs" during the extensive opening bars, but he changes the dynamic of the track altogether once reverting back to his rough trades to suit the song's theme. It takes a bit of recovery from the band to rescue "Jaguar Scarification Ritual" from its hasty ugliness, albeit the ceaseless breakdown rolls straight to the end wasn't necessarily the answer.
BARISHI is well fearless at this transitional point in their emergent careers. For their future, though, they would be wise to have Sascha Simms pull back the choky hard vocals and let his natural pipes accent their detail-seeking music. There's a lot of appeal to this band, but BARISHI needs to make better use of their vocal resources before worrying about breaking molds.