07 Jun 2023 - Thorsten
Church Road Records | Release date: 28 May 2023 | Favorite song: Earth Reaper
How to write about a record that is basically non-qualifiable as it denies any kind of genre-fication apart from the most obvious one – Extreme Metal. Wallowing’s latest record Earth Reaper is a grimy, gritty, gruesome and glorious example of how far a record can go if it is open to any and every genre known to the Metal Maniacs out there. Noisey, Industrialized, Blackened, Avantgarde, Psych-Metal. See? How to write about it?
Maybe one must take a step back and simply look at the one thing that should be important to most of us geeks out there – this is one hell of an awesome record, even though one might not listen to it 10 times in a row, admittedly. The latter surely has to do with the electrifying, seemingly shaking and somewhat stroboscope-like electro shocks dispensed by Earth Reaper. It sounds like the metal version of those crystal orbs from the 80s in which one could make electricity visible in the form of little uncontrollable electric charges hitting the walls of its container. Do you remember that little sound that accompanied each charge? That is the sound which seems to be the background to each and every single second on these seven songs spanning 44 minutes.
The record seems to be divided into two different parts – three tracks are written in a normal orthography, while the other four are only written in capital letters, the latter furthermore being the longer one, ranging between 3:29 (“FLESH AND STEEL”) and 21:50 minutes (the title track closing the record). Interestingly these four tracks also become longer (the last two taking up more than 32 minutes!); on the other hand, the three interludes all clock in after around 30 seconds.
The record has some of the most intriguing screamed lines since Loic basically tore his voice on The Ocean’s ”Orosirian” which opened with ”For the great blue cold now reigns!” - sometimes Wallowing words and structures somewhat remind me of it, do not ask why. Wallowing, which is a duo of two unknown SciFi-terrorists, immediately grab a hold of us and our attention and do so in mindblowing fashion, because their mix of Post-Metal, Noisecore and little addendums on each of the four TRACKS is mesmerizing, be it the immediate punch of ”FLESH AND STEEL”, the very intimate (yes!) slowcore version of their sound on ”CRIES OF ESTIMA”, the psych-rock intro of the title track which seems like the most frightening version of a prequel (or sequel, whichever you prefer) to Close Encounters or Independence Day. Seldom have I listened with as much intent, as much observation or as much involvement as with ”Earth Reaper”. Thematically this might follow along the lines of many that came before them like Blood Incantation, musically this is somewhere between the more organized sides of Coalesce’s chaos (let’s say 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening) and a more disfigured side of Sunn O)))’s simplest moments (maybe Monoliths & Dimensions?). Need proof? Listen to the tempi shifts and charges in the title track which gives you something of basically every guitar-driven genre known to mankind.
One thing that must be mentioned here are the vocals, because they have the same kind of urgency as Pink Floyd had on The Wall including the same kind of fine British dialect and intonation, somewhat like a clean Scottish dialect. But whenever these vocals come up they send shivers up and down my spine. Which is not a regular thing for me, as anyone who knows me can attest to. But here, they just add that little extra bit of spice that is necessary to get me into that futuristic extreme Noise mood which I also have when watching some of the Kubrick classics like 2001 : A Space Odyssey or A Clockwork Orange. Interestingly these movies also always purveyed a feeling of underlying, uncontrollable energy only waiting to burst out of the screen.
To come to an end, because I guess that some of you cannot wait to put this record on:
I do not want to say that this record is “fun” in any way, but it sure is a very good listen, because the TRACKS really do not cut any slack and keep you close to your headphones and on the front of your seats. And even a two-track, 32-minute-final is not in any way boring on Earth Reaper and that surely means something, right?
(… hey, maybe it wasn’t that hard to write about this record after all, ay?)