If, as one half of Young Knives Henry Dartnell has stated about Barbarians each of their albums usually has some kind of theme, then the duo have certainly chosen a very 2020 high concept. Using socio-historian John Gray’s 2002 book Straw Dogs as an over arching premise, their return after seven years since releasing Sick Octave considers the world from a burning platform, man and our point blank refusal to consider symbiosis with our home the greatest danger to it’s survival.
Without the constraint of having to bother too much about who will listen – the duo’s last serious brush with the charts was in 2006 with their second album Voices of Animals And Men – unfettered creativity and an almost satirical counter-think has emerged, the underlying question pondering whether as a species we’re worth saving at all.
These demons make for a wild, nightmarish ride, opener Swarm stapling post punk riffs to a desperate, bludgeoning chorus whilst I Am Awake and Sheep Tick are full of lysergic, nightmarish guitar angles, twisted synths and distorted voices. All of this reads like some avant garde project conjured up from a modern philosophers basement, but Barbarians is one the few albums in 2020 that has to be heard to be understood. If we’re all living on borrowed time, then we might as well spend some of it with these magnificently shredded postcards from the edge.
You can read a full review here.