Barium's fractured brand of hardcore metal highlights a local scene that has little in ways of impressive musical talent, and on Education By Error, the band looks to become one of the freshest metalcore faces in 2002. The album opens with the uneven behemoth "Jazz," which is anything but what the title suggests, twisting and turning in a chaotic mixture of pseudo-technical detail and blistering hardcore ferocity. It is refreshing to see a band avoid the usual pitfalls of maintaining a formulaic song structure, and instead venture into abstract territories to evolve their songs into maniacal beasts of sound that lunge at the listener from all corners. This rabid assault on one's senses leaves a striking impression and is one of Barium's greatest strengths. "Show Me Life" is one of the group's most incredible songs, as it dabbles amidst hardcore, death metal, and grind without ever relying on any style to propel it. Barium stumbles when they approach the melodic range of the metalcore spectrum, yet even then they carry themselves with finesse, allowing these songs to take shape despite the uneven footing they find themselves with. "Try Again" appears to embrace an obvious emo focus, and feels out of place among the other, more intimidating tracks on the album. Education By Error ends on an extreme note, as "This Dream" and "End" are exquisite metalcore machines that ultimately destroy everything in their path. As a band, Barium still needs time to grow as a group, as at times the album comes off a little too rushed and scattered to keep your attention, but when this band is focused, it is an immense force. Lyrically Education By Error is brutal even at its most sincere, which proves it's a fitting release for independent label Brutal Records. As a band, Barium owes much to bands such as Zao that have inspired them, yet still are admirable for taking the risks they take on Education By Error. To look past the minor imperfections and the album's hideous cover art, Barium is undoubtedly the best thing to emerge from the Maine wilderness, and quite possibly one of the most impressive young faces on the hardcore scene.
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