I ’m as partial as the next man/woman/person/lifeform to listening to music that makes me think about the world we live in, the people in it, and the complicated nature of the human condition. However, I’m also equally partial to heavy metal that leaves me with a shit-eating grin as wide as the river Mersey (other wide rivers are available via your regional TV provider).
Barbarian Hermit are one such band which prompt such a reaction, and the reissuing of their debut release One reminds me that they’ve successfully been doing this since the first riff of the first song on their first release. This 5th anniversary re-release was remastered by Chris Fielding at Foel Studios and was thrust upon the world by APF Records on last Friday, 29th January ’21.
There’s no pussy-footing around here – the first chords of the track Mermaid could easily be mistaken for Pepper-era Corrosion of Conformity, and then at the one-minute mark the band wallop you in the ears, and like a lager-filled piñata, the party starts from there.
I appreciate that I might now have done the unthinkable and prompted thoughts of Andrew WK, and for that I can only apologise. Fear not; Barbarian Hermit don’t prompt this reaction by actually singing nonsense like ‘let’s get the party started’ – lyrically this is actually pretty strong and complex – it’s just that the overall pounding heart of the record drives forward will real positivity. It’s the soundtrack to a great day at a metal festival, and I’m sure all of us are desperate for some of that!
Tigerhorse continues the record with a slow and bass-heavy riff that is reminiscent of the almighty Dozer at their best. Burn The Fire brings to mind Clutch after a particularly long bong hit. It has that blues swing that Clutch are so good at, but dials the pace back, which as a consequence makes it feel as heavy as a paving slab.
BEA (Barbarian Enforcement Agency) reins-in the fire just a touch and brings with it some more precise and measured riffing, whilst Alma brings us back to beer spilling and moshing in a manner that is a fine tribute to the Bolton venue. Incidentally, I heard that the The Alma Inn closed its doors this last September. Sad news; it’s a venue that will be badly missed – here’s hoping there is a way forward in future.
The remaster boosts the recording delicately and in all the right places, plus the extra track is a stormer…
Widowmaker takes the feel of the record back to those first few chords of Mermaid, with echoes of COC being loud, proud and clear. As the original closing track, this does the classic job of summarising everything that’s gone before and sending you on your way with another massive riff to chew on. The section from the five minute mark is possibly my favourite few minutes on the entire release – a huge swaggering riff and a vocal delivery that has you shouting along even if you aren’t 100% sure what the lyrics are. It’s infectious – if it were a virus it’d be the Brazilian variant.
Simon Scarlett’s vocals are excellent throughout, with some subtle studio trickery here and there to add to the variety and texture that he brings. He left the band shortly after this release, but is now back in the fold, so it will be really interesting to hear how his return impacts any (hopefully imminent) future recording they make.
Follow-up full-length Solitude And Savagery brought with it more light and shade, and perhaps a darker overall tone; more slow headbanging and less moshpit madness. Both work really well, but four times out of five I’m gonna reach for the fist-in-the-air goodness of One, and this remaster only cements my view of the record.
This new shiny and turbo-charged version of One doesn’t end here. We have the previously unreleased track Through The Periscope Of The Deadly Sub. It’s apparently one of the first songs the band wrote, so why it has remained caged from the world remains one of the great rock-n-roll mysteries (it’s up there with ‘who did start the fire then Billy Joel?’). We have it now though, and it was worth the wait. Curiously, even though it was written very early, there’s a sense that this track will link the early sound of One with what the band will do next.
Is One a demo, an EP, or their first full length album? Depending which article you read, it’s any and all of the above, but frankly who cares? What you do need to worry about is whether this remaster is worth your attention, especially if you’ve already enjoyed the original release. My answer to that question would be that you should proceed directly to your chosen branch of Our Price/Andy’s Records (or alternatively go to APF Records’ website) and purchase it immediately.
The remaster boosts the recording delicately and in all the right places, plus the extra track is a stormer and worth nine minutes and twenty-eight seconds of anyone’s time! The album cover still looks like a sticker I had on my BMX when I was 12, but I assume Barbarian Hermit chose to spend their money on guitars, drums, beer and gravy, so I’ll forgive them this slight oversight.
Scribed by: David J McLaren