With a name like this, how could we possibly not name Barbarian Hermit as our New Band of the Week? And when you hear their music, which they delightfully describe using the 3 G’s of “Gargantuan, groove and gravy,” our choice is only further validated.
The Manchester doom and sludge scene super-group are proud creators are some of the raunchiest riffs around, with booming fuzz-laden grooves finessing the unrelenting juggernaut of sludgy filth. The quintet of Ed Campbell (vocals), Mike ‘Big Daddy Reegs’ Regan and Adam Robertshaw (guitars), Rob ‘Spadge Fafner’ Sutcliffe (bass) and Gareth Manning (drums) initially started out as the original band members having fun writing beefy, groove-laden riffs with Ed’s beastly vocals over the top.
And if that doesn’t have you intrigued, then how about this summary of the Barbarian Hermit sound from Ed: “Imagine a massive juggernaut thundering along, a gravy train going full pelt down its tracks blaring out sludgy, down-tuned, gelatinous riffs tempered with fuzz, groove and melody. Fans of sludge and stoner should not be disappointed as our grim, doom-influenced sound has some serious weight! We have been told we have both a modern and retro vibe at times which seems to have gone down as smooth as, well… gravy!”
But to briefly go back a step… to that name. Ed tells us: “So, I must admit the name wasn’t the top of our list of priorities as the band first formed. One day in our jam room we started discussing names and after mentioning the idea of a hermit – to reflect the music, our esoteric interests, us as people and how we can all feel at times. Mike then came up with the fully formed name as it is now. The solitude of the hermit was met with the savagery of the barbarian, which is also reflected in the album name that Mike penned more recently.”
Speaking of the album, the band are set to release their debut album Solitude and Savagery on 16 November – available for pre-order here – on which Ed tells us: “To say we are excited is an understatement and a half! Since we came out of Skyhammer (recording with Chris Fielding of Conan) this summer, we have been itching to show off the fruits of our labour. However, as the process needs time, we have remained steadfast and patient. It has since been mastered by James Plotkin (of Khanate and OLD) and sounds absolutely amazing… the wait has definitely been worth it and we absolutely cannot wait to share it with our fans and the wider world.”
And on what we can expect from the first Barbarian Hermit full length, today’s release of new single Black Mass may give us some clues. It opens up slowly with looping guitars and distant vocals, which suddenly explode into a cry of “Oh no” that welcomes in a huge mass of sludgy guitar chords under more intense vocals “From deepest slumber, Through darkest nights, Without warning, I had a surprise, As I look down to see myself, A cloak and mask blacker than black, Offered before me.”
A chugging riff kicks in under almost growling vocals, which end with “Oh Lord can you hear us, You must believe me I speak no lie, Can you hear or have you escaped for the sky, I can completely sympathise,” are supported by meandering guitars, with occasional high-pitched bursts. A darting low-tuned riff takes over and leads into huge screamed vocals, then stabbing guitars give way to drawn-out chords and drop into some fast-paced chugging low-tuned sludgy filth that brings the track to a fitting end. Check it out in the stream below:
And for more on insight on the new album, it’s best left to Ed. He explained: “Lyrically, I have always loved tracks that the listener can immerse themselves into subjectively, to understand and relate to individually. I have also always loved concept albums with an escalating theme. So, with Solitude and Savagery, I figured why not do both!
“As such, the tracks follow the overall theme of a journey, both physical and otherwise, that continues and weaves in and out of the tracks. There are other themes such as self-empowerment, hope, mindfulness, overcoming division and, of course, good times with good people.
“The album looks at the overall narrative subjectively within each song, while escalating as the listener embarks upon their journey through the tracks. This way, I hope those dropping in for a track can enjoy it just as much so all can get different takes on the themes, just as we do experiencing life. Meanwhile, I switch perspectives between myself and the emblematic Hermit, to talk of experiences, observations and exhalations.”
The band draw on a surprisingly large range of musical influences, from Black Sabbath, Sepulture, Tool and Pantera through to Roots Manuva, Zeal and Ardour, Bob Marley, Dillinja, Johnny Cash and Hans Zimmer. As Ed puts it: “We love our metallic riffs, but we also love the groove and anything with emotion and substance definitely catches our ears and raises the gooseflesh! To be honest, all of those mentioned here have definitely been an influence in some way, shape or form and a fair few should be apparent on the album.”
We’re expecting great things from the album, which was written after a period in which founding members Ed and Adam lost three band members for various reasons within six months. They tell us it’s “bristling with swagger, soul and groove” and “ventures further into heavier territory, exploring the darker side of our sound whilst making a conscious effort to experiment more with dynamics and texture.” And if that doesn’t have you foaming at the mouth for a chance to hear it, then frankly there’s something wrong with you.
Not content with launching their debut album on 16 November, Barbarian Hermit are also having their own beer brewed by Northern Monk. As Ed tells us: “They make some great ales, beers and spirits and it’s an honour to have our own beer coming from their monastic laboratory of alchemy! Look out for it when we announce it – and no, sadly it’s not gravy flavoured… We’ll be supplying enough of that on stage as it is!”
The band also have a series of gigs upcoming, kicking off at Cvltfest at Café Independent in Scunthorpe on 10 November, an album launch gig at The Refectory in Manchester on 16 November, playing Dark City ale fest at Northern Monk Brewery in Leeds on 17 November, then a Christmas Party at Rebellion in Manchester on 22 December.