Fucked up times demand a fucked up response. Unfortunately, every Tom, Dick and Tarquin wants to form an angry metal band and most of them are about as scary as a cheese sandwich.
As a result, the return of unhinged weirdo riff warriors Barrabus should be a cause for mass celebration.
Fronted by swivel-eyed polymath Paul Catten, they are simply one of the gnarliest and most distinctive bands to emerge from the UK underground over the last 20 years. This band of beautifully besuited bastards first appeared as a brief but thrilling flash in life’s shitty pan a decade ago, popping up as main support to My Ruin, SiKth and several more notables, but then promptly disappeared in a puff of noxious disdain. Gloriously, the best ideas absolutely refuse to.
“We did the My Ruin shows and the Sikth shows but then Dan [Marshall, ex-Barrabus drummer] got pissed off with it, and Mark [Seddon, Barrabus guitarist] and I started doing our project The Sontaran Experiment,” Catten recalls. “Basically, I like to keep moving. With the Sonataran thing I had the idea of making the world’s most extreme, noisy band, but now ten years later, everyone’s got some extreme electronics in their doom! So we lost out by being too early. But back then, Barrabus just dwindled. We recorded a demo, just to see how the songs were sounding, and we did a couple more songs on an 8-track and put them on YouTube. We didn’t think any more of it, to be honest, because Barrabus was still basically a side-project to what we were doing in Murder One.”
Therein lies an ongoing problem for Paul Catten, a restless creative spirit with a notorious disregard for mainstream pressures and commercial horseshit. Since the initial demise of Barrabus, he has been churning out all manner of twisted and fascinating musical projects, often firmly in the avant-garde world but also gleefully and consistently rooted in extreme music. But despite his multifarious urges, the passing years did not dull Paul’s enthusiasm for screaming his head off in a balls-out rock band and the lure of Barrabus’ wonky clangour soon proved irresistible.
As furiously fresh and snot-fuelled today as they were when they were first penned, the songs on Barrabus’ self-titled debut album are nothing short of an all-out, vein-bursting assault on the senses. A lurching, flailing blur or fuzzed-up sludgecore riffing, art rock angularity, whiplash-inducing detours and thick wads of acrid, squirming eccentricity, it’s a powerful metal record, but one infused with an exhilarating sense of unease and malicious mischief. Most importantly, perhaps, Barrabus sound nothing like anything or anyone else, not least due to the unique lyrical vision and vocal madness of their frontman. Listen to new track ‘Porn’ –
Finally unleashing their warped sonic worldview on an unsuspecting planet, Barrabus are looking sharp and hell-bent on wreaking havoc, as wheels grind into motion and these once-forgotten songs start to enjoy a new lease of life. And despite the numerous projects Paul Catten is currently working on – including a follow-up to 2014’s debut solo album Themes & Variations For Strings & Electronics and new extreme noise-grind squad Bed Wetter – it looks like the second chapter in the Barrabus story will more than fulfil the potential of the first.
“We’ve got a new drummer, Adam [Evans], and the first time we set foot in a rehearsal studio again, we smashed through the set and it felt fucking great to be singing in a band again. But we’re well into writing the second album now, so we can back this one up straight away. I’m actually really looking forward to getting out and doing some gigs. So that’s Barrabus. We’ll still be wearing suits. We’ll still be swearing at the audience. We’re just fatter and older!”
Barabbus release their self titled album on 9th June via Undergroove Records. Pre-order now –