Given how prolific Barn Owl have been in the past, it's surprisingly to learn that it's been over 18 months since "Lost in the Glare," their last proper full-length. In the interim Jon Porras and Evan Caminiti have issued a variety of solo albums, but the duo has also used that time to augment the sound palette of Barn Owl with electronics and synthesizers. Thankfully, the same blackened soot and scorched psychedelia are still prevalent, they just reach deeper timbres and more expansive textures.
Change is afoot immediately as "V" enters with "Void Redux," which is a particularly apt title for an album opener that sees a subtle shift in Barn Owl's dark sound. The track is quite minimal, with percussion setting a rhythm for undulating synthesizer streaks and and the duo's sustained tube amp drones. It's almost unassuming, but before long "V" rises to profound peaks and impressive intensity, especially the masterful recording of "Blood Echo." Past styles and their contemporary additions are executed to devastating effect on the track as it lumbers, builds, and rises to fill in the gaps between blurred drone, bleak Americana, and roiling black metal.
Closer "The Opulent Decline" matches such intensity. One of the lengthiest recordings to grace a Barn Owl album, the track originated as a half hour improvisation that was edited down and distilled to 17 minutes that are cosmic in scope and immersive in execution. It also features the most brazen use of electronic frequencies, beginning with an intro of spectral synths that meet the duo's more familiar charred guitar lines. The piece eventually coalesces into a swirling mass of feedback and roving synth textures while a thumping drum machine holds it all together during the stunning climax. It's a definitive end to a bold new Barn Owl direction. – Ryan Potts