LONG NIGHT - BARREN LAND

Nine years of struggle

I don't know how many of you have met Long Night before. I know, however, that from now on, this band should be watched closely... 

 

Today's review will not have a long introduction... Instead of building the mood, I will only write that this album was made for so long that at some point it was not clear whether it would be finished at all... and yet, not only was it completed, it also managed to surprise me... Several times I even had shivers on my back... 

 

I must admit that recently I haven't followed the gothic scene as much as before. Mainstream bands, former icons of this genre neither perform regularly, nor seek online attention, nor release albums as often as they used to. 

A certain exception here may be Fields Of The Nephilim, who admittedly are still active in terms of live performances, but when it comes to the band's premiere albums... they have been in a disturbing silence for a long time...

Gothic with the rest is the domain of youth. It is usually discovered at a certain stage of life... in a period of youthful rebellion, in the time of intense search for everything that could be in contradiction with the imposed norms. 

Gothic is also a genre thoroughly hermetic and not for everyone.

You either love it or hate it and only sometimes... you are able to ignore it completely. 

 

Meanwhile, the album I'm going to talk about today can neither be ignored, nor hated...

Barren Land is an album that tries to offer something fresh and interesting in all the gothic we know.

Despite its classic rooting, it cleverly tries to broaden the frames of its mother genre without destroying any monument of the past. It's an album that shows how much it is worth to escape from the ubiquitous similarities... 

that instead of wearing an old, worn and unattractive masks it is worth to reach for solutions used in other, more or less distant music genres... and I can say It's amazing that thanks to bands like Long Night (although I know the gothic scene thoroughly), I can still learn something and I can feel like those several years ago when this music was new to me. Thanks to Barren Land I felt a bit like then, and that's what I want to talk about today...

Frankly speaking I expected a one-dimensional album, however, it soon turned out that this album is neither one-dimensional nor predictable. Barren Land surprised me with its space. It is worth paying special attention to the rich backgrounds of individual compositions. Guitars are never limited to simple power chords. In almost every song there is something unusual in them, something that you remember.

Guitarists are well prepared. They know what they want to achieve and whenever they have the opportunity, they cleverly go beyond the structures of gothic. It is enough to mention the title track, or the oneiric, oriental "Black River" placed under the number six in the tracklist. Even in a more classic gothic style compositions like "Cold Light" there is no shortage of unusual flavors and elements that you can capture and remember from the spot...

Already the first track has a strong potential for a single and already the first track reveals the broad musical fascinations of individual members of Long Night. We can hear the distant echoes of Love Like Blood, we can hear echoes of the Berlin period of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The band is also not afraid to refer to the true classics of the genre. I am thinking here of the drum machine that can arouse some associations with the immortal Floodland by the Sisters of Mercy, here however everything is more musical, there is also more delays and great guitar passages with catchy memorable solos. 

 

In the vicinity of the third track, the album starts to turn to slightly different places...

This is where the material opens, bringing pearls like "On A Little Snowy Field", "Black River", "Cold Light" or "Flickering Lights".

The tittle track "Barren Land" is one of the most memorable fragments of the album... It evokes distant associations with the more rock oriented, guitar side of Depeche Mode's music. It's a catchy track with a great groove and great guitar cooperation. It's the song from which the album begins to fall under the skin of the listener.

 

"Black River" is even more unusual. Here we get a very interesting, oriental theme, which is enhanced by a great lead guitar playing. Good tempo and chords, over which the spirit of ancient Pink Floyd floats.

One of the simpler arrangements and at the same time an example of how much the right dynamics and the right groove can do.

 

"Cold Light", although it shows the band from the more classic gothic rock side, is also worth noting. In spite of the small rasps it's a very good composition. Great disturbing climate, very good cooperation between bass and guitar... personally I would only shorten the first chorus (until the moment when the vocalist enters the high registers). It would be more interesting and less linearly and the song itself would benefit from the dramaturgy... The list of regrets ends here. A very good piece. One of those who stay with us after listening to the album.

A track that also deserves to be noted here is the cold, tribal and ominous "The Rain Still Falls", where once again we get a great arrangement and a great ominous guitar theme...

 

At this point, however, I must confess that I was especially captured by the slower fragments of the album, including dark opus magnum "On A Little Snowy Filed" (which quickly became my favorite song) and a beautiful final track entitled "Flickernig Lights".

First of mentioned ... extremely atmospheric, unhurried and wonderfully dark piece, based on a great bass figure, great guitar textures and a voice which in this song for the first time sounds really special... which for the first time on this album touches the depths...

Here meet the souls of Ian Curtis and Jim Morrison... Somewhere between Fields Of The Nephilim and Joy Division... Somewhere on the borden of the worlds... On A Little Snowy Filed... Pure magic...

Just listen to these oneiric, unusual, smoky guitars... this climate... all these flavours and ambient background melodies.... It's something you can't pass by indifferently.

Once again a great tempo, great dramaturgy, great tension and these tremolos... absolutely lovely.

"On A Little Snowy Field" is undoubtedly one of the best tracks of the album and also one of the most interesting songs that I've been able to hear in this genre recently.

 

"Flickering Lights" the second of the above mentioned tracks,  equally atmospheric, filled with suffocating dense aura the last stop on the Barren Land is a ballad of extraordinary beauty.... Full of regret, set somewhere between day and night, a blurred film story that evokes associations with images of Berlin bathed in rain, Berlin from the times of David Bowie's trilogy, Berlin, in which Nick Cave fell in love...

This is really very unique track in which many shades are mixed together. There is something from the Bad Seeds mood here, there is also a little climate of The Doors, there is also a bit of Pink Floyd, The Smiths and even Bryan Ferry... 

A very interesting, very addictive and beautiful song... A song without happy ending and you can feel this in every second of this track. Really noteworthy here is the great final guitar solo work which is accompanied by a beautiful piano, which unfortunately leads the album to the end... Unfortunately, because in spite of nine songs, this album not only did not tire me but also left me insatiable and thirsty...

I must admit that Barren Land surprised me a lot. I expected an even, regular gothic ride, I expected that two or three compositions may stand above average, but I didn't expect such many good songs, such a freshness, such an interesting and wisely arranged guitars and such unusual guitar scales and chord progressions. 

Even if sometimes you hear some kind of more typical gothic theme, Long Night can play it convincingly and in their own way. They have something interesting, extraordinary and memorable. 

 

The question is, does Barren Land have any weaknesses? Well, I think it's an album that shouldn't be considered in the category of what worked and what didn't work. As a whole it defends itself perfectly. 

If I really had to, I would probably attach myself to two not mentioned earlier tracks, which in my opinion neutralize a bit the climate created by other songs. I mean here the second in the set "The Night's Ablaze" and the fifth on the album "Its All Gone". Both songs are quite typical gothic rock songs, which, although catchy, are a bit too predictable.

"The Nights Ablaze" with the rest is probably the least interesting track of the whole set, but thanks to its good positioning in the trackilst it does its job by sustaining the tension generated by its predecessor. My attention was attracted here only by the solo played by slide. 

 

"Its All Gone" can be thrown into one bag with many other gothic anthems, however, it is not as original as the 

compositions described above. It does not try to broaden the genre to a degree similar to the other songs of the album. Of course, the song may be liked, but for me it's also one of the worse fragments of the record... an ordinary, radio pop-rock song which, as I wrote before, blurs a bit of the atmosphere created by earlier compositions. 

 

If I had to attach myself to something more , it would probably be the lyrics and a little too safe sound production...

 

The lyrics is something that probably does not come easily to Long Night members...

 

Despite the refined overall sound, Barren Land is sometimes a bit muddy. It depends on the song, but If you pay close attention to the frequencies around 350 - 500 Hz you will surely catch it.

Listen also to the correlation between the bass guitar and the main vocals which sometimes overlaps, causing the phenomenon known as masking. This is not a big thing and certainly not many listeners will pay attention to it at all.

It is also not something that affects the pleasure of listening to this album. 

 

The truth is that I attached myself to all these things just to balance this review a bit. So that it wouldn't be so one-sided. The truth is also that I haven't had such a pleasure with any album for a long time.

 

What more can I say? Long Night have a big potential, they go in a good way, they also have all the atributes to enter the mainstream. Perhaps the album could be more courageous, more surprisingly. Perhaps the band members could move the border more, allow themselves to flirt with some more distant, uncomfortable genre of music,  but...

 

Listening to how they play today, I'm almost sure that they'll do it next time... If only we don't have to wait another nine years for their new album...

All the necessary information about Long Night and Barren Land can be found here:

 

https://swissdarknights.bandcamp.com/album/barren-land

https://longnighttau.bandcamp.com/releases

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