Band: Baring Teeth
Album: The Path Narrows
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: October 20th, 2023
For Fans Of: Ad Nauseam, Gorguts, Artificial Brain
It’s baffling that The Path Narrows is Baring Teeth’s first release on I, Voidhanger Records. The two entities must have felt destined to find each other. Baring Teeth play a dissonant, atmospheric brand of death metal that revels in conflict, weirdness and exploration. At the same time, I, Voidhanger, is I, Voidhanger. The match seems destined. The Path Narrows is Baring Teeth’s fourth full length release, and sees the band with nothing to prove beyond being able to match the ghosts of their past.
Baring Teeth play dissonant death metal with clean production, audible bass, variable song lengths, and shifting guitar distortion quality. While Baring Teeth rely on atmosphere, they don’t use it as a crutch. The Path Narrows contains enough aggression to satisfy death metal fans, which is a remarkable accomplishment for an album of this nature. I appreciated the Ad Nauseam-like twisting and open space, but having a shiny, gory exoskeleton to hold everything in place gives such a nice blend of styles.
At the same time, Baring Teeth’s biggest strength is their quieter, more exploratory sections. These sections can sound so boring when done by death metal bands who lose some of the necessary songwriting subtlety when not sacrificing goats to the tune of pyrotechnics. This isn’t meant as a slight to others, writing aggression and brutality well is also a difficult task for bands that aren’t used to it. Baring Teeth’s capability to switch back and forth while consistently sounding like veterans creates some rare moments.
Baring Teeth do a good job at establishing dynamics and melodic dissonance. They don’t always establish interesting rhythms in the manner that it sounds like they want to, but the stretched out and slow sections like the end of “Cadaver Synod” work well. Seemingly at will, Baring Teeth can establish droning notes and then play around them to keep their music interesting. The band is able to create music with a large variety in styles that still sounds focused and cohesive.
The Path Narrows contains a songwriting philosophy that isn’t immediate. Motifs are seemingly carried over throughout the record, but The Path Narrows never sounds boring. The record deserves a seat at the table of weird death metal, but it isn’t weird enough to compete on the cutting edge and innovative front. At the same time Baring Teeth aren’t brutal enough for this release to be technical death metal with seasoning. Instead this occupies the space between those two extremes, and as a result my genre expectations pull the record in both directions. Baring Teeth’s song structures and smaller decisions allow them to satisfy both my desire for weird songs and my desire for heavy music.
Baring Teeth’s biggest strength is their ability to push forward what makes their music work. They don’t just provide dissonant melodic lines, instead they take a specific pattern and harmony and throw it as far into the listener’s face as they can. The intro track actually serves some purpose on The Path Narrows as it establishes a repeating, dissonant line in the guitar that the rest of the music builds around. Baring Teeth aren’t playing death metal with some Gorguts influence, they play primarily clashing music that happens to be death metal.
When looking at The Path Narrows from a less forgiving perspective, this release ends up just sounding like a worse version of an Ad Nauseam or Blood Incantation record. Baring Teeth aren’t quite at the top of their genre. Their ability to incorporate a softer and more ambient approach stands out but may not be enough to make this record worth the time for some. So while I do enjoy Baring Teeth quite a bit, anyone who isn’t deep into dissonant death metal could find other releases that better satisfy the same aural desire.
The Path Narrows is a blast of dissonance and ugly sounds both loud and soft and I enjoyed every minute of it. While Baring Teeth aren’t the pinnacle of death metal they have established themselves as a band I will always anticipate. I recommend this to anyone who wants music that deeply explores music, or to anyone who has ever used the term “melodeath” as a pejorative. Baring Teeth have again created something worth listening to.
- The Gate
- Rote Mimesis
- Liminal Rite
- Cadaver Synod
Total Playing Time: 39:59