Review – Harrow: The River

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Review – Harrow: The River
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Harrow: The River
Black Metal, Folk Metal
Shadow of the Stone
March 15th, 2015
Release length: 15:39
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About a month prior, Canadian Black/Folk Metal group Harrow unleashed their third full-length effort The River, the most glaring example of their change in musical direction. Some got behind the raw shift, while others felt it more of a bland, though necessary, stepping stone before the trio can finally realize the full potential of channelling into their Folk Rock/Metal inspirations. While that recording may have just come out, Harrow have another recording making its rounds. Titled The River, it’s a three song EP that was recorded back in October of 2014, clocking in at a little more than fifteen minutes. But does it show a any further growth from the group in such a short amount of time, or is it essentially just a collection of material that didn’t make the cut on the last outing as far as the quality goes?

Much like The River, The River presents a fairly analog quality, but one that doesn’t sound like it was torn directly from a cassette or live performance. The instruments themselves not only sound far more crisp in comparison, but also end up levelled a lot better. The vocals are still in the distance, which benefits the raspy style far more than the clean singing, the bass guitar is also toned down, allowing the mix of nice acoustics and sharpened distortions, while the drums just come through a lot tighter all around. All of this helps the listener get into the mood early on.

In that respect, The River feels like an extension of The River, while stands on its own. “The River” starts off with the flow of a creek or shallow river bed flowing forward, caving to a soft Folk acoustic piece complete with male and female clean singing. Unlike their previous effort, this one doesn’t suddenly cut to a jolt of Black Metal, but rather tones things down to a more intimate passage that adds additional Folk-inspired instruments to set the woodland landscape with ease. This formula does break for “Stream-Enterer” though. This nicely picks up where “The River” left off, keeping the tone alive for a good two minutes before some Depressive Black Metal material and a mixture of vocal harmonizations that come off more like distant chanting, as well as some sharpened riffs. This bleeds into “Return” thanks to a quick wash of falling rain that shifts to a colder, empty world that brings in a sense of genuine loneliness. It’s a nice atmospheric instrumental that wraps things up nicely.

This three song EP isn’t bogged down by extended track lengths, though it does feel like one extended track separated into three segments. And, well, that’s perfectly fine here, as Harrow use that tactic to nurture the song’s progression. Of course, the crisper audio quality doesn’t hurt things any either. The River winds up a far more refined approach to the group’s recent change of musical direction, and it’s a welcomed maturity that was desperately needed on their last full-length album that dropped less than a month prior.


01. Pathways – 14:43
02. Through the Grey – 8:54
03. The River – 9:08
04. Awake Before the Dawn – 11:51
Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

Harrow
Harrow

Digital review copy of this release provided by personal funds.