WomanITEWriting music is the main focus of this trio from the South Dakotan Black Hills and in doing so they have released three albums. This is the second of them originally self-released in 2012 but now getting the reissue treatment from Eisenwald in much the same way as they unearthed Velnias to a wider audience. Touring and promotion is not a big goal of the band and apart from some local shows and little real exposure the chances are they are a new band to you as they were me. I have heard fleetingly of them on the strength of follow up album ‘Depths’ released on Init Records in April but that has not found its way to me; on the strength of this I’m rather hoping it will.

The name is an odd one and although I believe geographically some distance apart there is a lot in common here with the Cascadian black metal bands and on first look one could have pictures of some radical eco-feminist vegan anarchist band forming in their head. Politics aside, as none are mentioned, it is onto the music for further enlightenment.

There’s four lengthy and expansive tracks here with plenty of substance to be found within them. The title track is quick to bounce in with some hellacious roars unleashed by Jarrod Hattervig who also plays guitars. I am guessing that it is brothers that are backing him up and John and Andy Martin drums and guitars respectively add to the assault with fast strumming riffs and some massive percussive bombast. There’s lots to intrigue as this carries you off and it is wild and untamed much like the images the search engine provides on typing in to look and see what environment the band dwell within. Some acoustic parts break the assault and lighten it and I am reminded a bit of some of the bands playing in that other mysterious Quebecois black metal region as the raw feral aspects combine with lighter emotional parts. There’s certainly lots of spirit amidst the desolate sprawl and one could imagine wandering out to partake in a massive journey of self-discovery with this providing a suitable soundtrack, which is very much as epic as the untapped landscape.  ‘Birdsong’ starts with an incredibly wild feel to it as everything hones in at once with those wild roars thick over the ferocious guitar riffs and weighty drums. Obvious comparisons will be drawn to Wolves In The Throne Room here but that’s no bad thing and it does make me wonder if Woman Is The Earth are quite as devastating a prospect live; somehow I suspect so.

It’s very easy to lose yourself in this sprawling canvas, which is something I have enjoyed doing on repeated listens and there is almost a tribal intensity summoning the past indigenous dwellers of the land back in the springy drum delivery on ‘Sage Moon’ taking you back to bygone times in the process. ‘Glow Beyond The Ridgeline’ at 16 minutes length is a whopping concluding piece and one that after the barrage of the last track takes you in gently shimmering away. Not long before a massive percussive thunder wallops in and explodes with everything frantic in the mix. It’s windswept, wild and dramatically powerful stuff that’s impossible not to be swept up and carried off by before it eventually downs tools and trails off into a long ambient desolate passage leaving you very much alone but contentedly so.

Atmospheric and extreme are the two words that this site has at its heart and Woman Is The Earth have really provided both in a near flawless fashion here leaving me hungering for more. The hills have heart and soul and are well worth exploring.

(8/10 Pete Woods)