06 Aug 2022 - Thorsten
Doom Metal, Krautrock, Psychedelia | Black Lion Records | Release date: 20 May 2022 | Favorite song: On Borrowed Time
“We have made engine start. Four, Three, Two. … 60,000 cases in a single day, it is the longest number of new cases, a new record. … A plane has crashed into one of the World Trade Center. … Dann tritt für mich ein, so wie ich für dich eintreten werde. … Without power. … A Day which will live in infamy. … The United States of America is suddenly at war. … has exploded in mid-air” Speech samples lead into Drift into Black’s new album Earthtorn. Combine them with the title and you got a good idea what they are trying to tell you! Important!! Warning!!!
What we get from the New Jersey-based doom metal band is a highly variable, moody record with its salty fingers in many wounds that many of us would like to ignore – and all of them lead to the same end: the extinction of mankind caused by mankind and ignored by mankind. The songs borrow elements from classic and progressive metal, from folk and Gothic rock. When we hear the bells at the beginning of ”Angel of Doom” they have nothing of the anger and sickness of ”For Whom The Bell Tolls” nor the celebratory excitement of ”Hells Bells” - here the bells are nothing but a melancholic lament for the procedures on planet Earth.
The whole story is told from the perspective of an extraterrestrial visitor, who shall – disguised as a human – observe mankind and later on transfer all important things back to his home-base. But he falls away and sees his love die a slow death. “There is nothing here on this planet to keep”, he tells his home-base. and goes back heartbroken leaving the humans to their inevitable death. Now, there is not much thinking and interpreting necessary to see this as a metaphor on our way of life. We are oblivious to the ongoing decay around us – because if we really took a look at it, we would find that we are the root of all that evil and that we (now in 2022) might still turn the wheel around if we ourselves took a full circle back and once in a while set the survival of the human race above our own. Let’s be clear – there are many people who say so and some of them are among the most clever people on this planet, but we simply don’t want to listen. Huge bush fires everywhere? Droughts in places where there were plentiful fields? Raging floods with rivers relocating their own riverbed? If anybody wants to deny climate change and our hand in it – please stop reading and don’t follow VoS anymore. Read your QAnon-canon instead. Seriously.
When listening to the light and eerie lament ”The Ups And Downs”, with guest vocals by Melissa Hancock, one cannot but feel goosebumps. This is classically trained Gothic metal influenced largely by the Canterbury scene of the 70s and then later on even incorporates a highly elegiac synth – this is like the eulogy for mankind ”Soon I’ll leave …” says the narrator before the musical force sets in. One thing that should be mentioned is the really remarkable use of the violin tracks of Ben Karas, which give the record this near-Klezmer-like feeling of watching an Extinction Level Event.
Nevertheless, do not think that there is no rage on this record. Several songs have hard-hitting parts and lines that might make you quiver with self-reflection like ”Suicidal Self-destruction, a next generation that’s robbed of life” or ”The human race will never learn!”. Here we see that this record is closer to bands like Botanist or Locrian than one might think. However, Drift into Black focus more on the result of our human impact which is, as it seems at the moment, our undeniable decay due to our self-absorbed selfish strife for “the more, the better”.
It would have been lovely if Earthtorn ended with a little silver lining, a note of positivity – but we should see and accept our hand in all of it and maybe realize that we cannot be the extraterrestrial leaving planet earth, but we are here. We worsened the situation here, maybe we can also turn it around for the better. But there’s no “I” in “team” here. It’s “us” or “death”. That’s something we can take from this politically and morally charged doom-metal record. Or the news segment and vocal samples will become even worse.