Barbarian Swords – Anti-Dogma Megaforce
Eternal Juggernaut Records
Release Date: 09/10/23
Running Time: 28:19
Review by Dark Juan
Good evening, you find your least favourite ersatz rock hack enjoying a mere 23 ½ hours off work after completing a 48-hour shift, before he returns to having to be a responsible and sensible member of society and go and do another 48-hour stint. This is displeasing on many levels. Mainly because I can’t have a drink as it’s a school night and I have done something unspeakable to my neck and I can’t turn my head without tearing agony rampaging up and down my spine and head. Add to this the fact that the Petlog website is a total load of fucking shite that won’t do ANYTHING unless you pay for it, and you will no doubt understand why Dark Juan is feeling a bit nihilistic, especially after my already waif-like wallet is £40 lighter after changing the addresses of Hodgson Biological-Warfare and Mossy Rowan Boggart Grimshaw Cravensworth III to Crow Cottage. There’s nothing for it. I am going to have a single, solitary beer, lest I inadvertently strangle someone at work tomorrow (the adults are in greater danger of it than the kids to be fair. Adults are a pain in the fucking arse to manage. At least with the kids I can send them to their rooms or ban devices. Beating the living shit out of your staff with large and sturdy horsewhips is apparently frowned upon. I say it is a valuable motivational technique), and that is just in the manager’s meeting. Ah well, if we are feeling nihilistic, it is time to consult the review list, as Mrs. Dark Juan is currently on a one-woman embroidered bat production line.
It’s probably best if you don’t ask.
The matt black, blood slathered Platter Of Splatter™ is spinning at extreme velocities and is covered with blades and corpse paint as it is playing the latest offering from Catalan Black Metallers Barbarian Swords. It is fair to say that they have some negative opinions about Spain (‘Nuke Barcelona’ being an example of this). That is where we will leave it because Dark Juan rarely dips his feet into politics unless it’s to slag off Vladimir Putin.
I had not heard of Barbarian Swords before, and when I consulted the blurb that came with “Anti-Dogma Megaforce” I was astonished to find that I had missed out on a previous album of theirs called “Totemic Anal Turbofucker”, which, because Dark Juan is an arbitrary bastard at the best of times would have immediately got the band a high score because Dark Juan is infantile as fuck and is still laughing at the title of it… However, Barbarian Swords were formed in 2011 in Barcelona, (sorry it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to stop Freddie Mercury and Monserrat Caballe sounding off in my head – “The moment you stepped into the room you took my breath away!”) and they play some remarkably primal Black Metal, that nods as much to Emperor’s howling (yet intelligent) madness as it does to Anaal Nathrakh’s murderous nihilism. Opening track ‘Massive Prehistoric Killing Machine’ is a short, sharp, utterly lethal blast with a slower middle eight and gets bonus points for a fucking amazing title. ‘Lord Winter’ takes inspiration from the godfathers of BM in an early Dimmu Borgir style forcibly mated with Emperor style and the vocal is not unreminiscent of one Dani Filth, esquire, circa “The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh”, whereupon it is perilously close to whistle tone at times but holds back from the godawful shrieking that Monsieur Filth currently employs.
The whole sound of the band is wintry as fuck – snow-blanketed pine forests at the foot of a colossal and freezing mountain range which has creatures unbeknown to man or God roaming it, tearing apart unsuspecting people and leaving only mangled limbs and chunks of flesh in its wake. ‘Killer Of All Hope’, indeed – the song in question is a high velocity romp through the most obsidian darkness which has the smartness and power of Daemonarch running through its poisoned veins, with a little bit of the atmospheric keyboards so beloved of Emperor on “In the Nightside Eclipse” floating beneath the primal bestiality. ‘Immoral Ritualistic Abomination’ dials up the horrific hatred of Anaal Nathrakh to frankly deeply worrying proportions and ‘Nuke Barcelona’ fuses some utterly savage Black Metal with an almost Punky vibe.
I do have a problem with the mix and the lead guitar work, though. The soloing is kind of… incongruous with the atavistic quality of Barbarian Swords’ music and when there is a solo it sits too far up in the mix. Barbarian Swords are at their most devastatingly effective when they aren’t fucking about with solos. Dark Juan is all about the brutality right now, and these Catalan musicians are staggeringly savage. I love Black Metal for the sheer, uncompromising murderousness of it all – the speed, the shocking power, the absolute disregard for trends. To be sure, Black Metal is a genre constrained by its own limits (there’s only so much melody you can cram into 225 bpm after all before limbs start to fail and blood starts to be spilt).
‘Glorious Deicide’ is a rather intoxicating amalgam of Death and Black Metal – the verse being infused with DM goodness and the rest of the song going completely Black Metal mental, and the title track is the final word in power – all blastbeats and brutality with swirling, minor key keyboards underpinning the aural horror, the velocity never dropping and frequently increasing at various points through the song. Vocalist Von Päx absolutely destroys what is left of his vocal chords to maximum effect from opening cut to closing explosion and is never less than frighteningly committed to his staring, spittle-flecked delivery of his utterly unintelligible vocals. The album has plenty of variety and there are plenty of varying shades of aggression (I can’t say light and shade because the album is so unremittingly bleak) to savour as you listen.
In short, you would never conceive of the idea that these four gentlemen are from the Iberian Peninsula. They sound like they have come screaming out of the basement of a dodgy record shop in Oslo circa 1997, and their rabid, bleak nihilism hits the spot for Dark Juan in a way that Black Metal rarely does these days, seeing as it has an adequate production that makes everything easily heard, even if the snare drum and bass drum sound like someone battering cardboard cutouts with wooden spoons, being as they sound so lifeless and flat. However, these are minor gripes as Barbarian Swords have run Dark Juan through with their Catalan take on Scandinavian sonic murder. Album closer ‘A Thousand Impaled Hearts’ is full on Operatic Black Metal Emperor worship, and it is a masterpiece of icy emotion and flayed nerve endings – all epic keyboards, minor keys and demented howling over a backdrop of drumming so insane that there is a number of white vans heading to Barcelona to pick up and commit Barbarian Swords right now.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (El sistema patentado de clasificación de salpicaduras de sangre de Dark Juan a mis maravillosos lectores españoles y catalanes: disculpas pero no hablo catalán) awards the Black Metal savagery of Barbarian Swords 8/10 for an album of prodigious power that doesn’t bring anything new to the genre but does what it does absolutely superbly.
01. Massive Prehistoric Killing Machine
02. Lord Winter
03. Killer Of All Hope
04. Immoral Ritualistic Abomination
05. Nuke Barcelona
06. A Mountain of Corpses
07. Glorious Deicide
08. Anti-Dogma Megaforce
09. A Thousand Impaled Hearts
Von Päx – Vocals
Panzer – Guitars, bass, keyboards
Steamroller – Guitars
Uretra – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.