Berlin’s Earth Ship are a band that crosses genres. Depending on your state of mind when you press play, you’ll hear something different each and every time.
Firing out two parts doom and one part southern metal, Earth Ship have managed to muster an album that collects, like music nerds, a vast range of their influences. Starting out with a driven, downbeat Alice In Chains vibe they steadily ramp up the pace and the power to peak at something equating to Kylesa’s whirlwind crush before bringing it back through thrash and blackened metal to settle back into a doomy groove.
Blasting off the wall of noise with a scowling bag of nails vocal, opener “Reduced To Ashes” melts an initially gutsy, visceral sound into a driven dual vocal that mimics the melancholic laments of the aforementioned Alice In Chains. At ts heart the jerking back-and-forth swinging rhythm is a simple structure by design, so it’s a surprise to find it repeating throughout the album. Following up, the title-track introduces itself as its tonal brother, attacking from a different angle with half-paced, down-tuned chugs creating an imposing force. This looser blueprint risks demoting it to mere filler but at least it warns you just how complex their constructive thought processes are.
Deeper in, the variation continues – morose, lush verses, driven with effortless power by twin vocals, melt into a roared death attack. Surrounding it they use an amalgam of High On Fire’s immense vocal grunt, Monster Magnet’s heady theatrics and Torche’s relentless cyclical riffing to shock and envigorate..
“Conjured” provides a wicked groove interspersed with harmonised vocal “aahs” and is both accessible and memorable. Then, diving into the abyss, “Monolith” offers up a suitably menacing, rumbling undercurrent with big blackened melancholic tones. Imposing its wrath upon the listener it echoes through to violating feedback. “In Fire’s Light” is even darker, heavier and throws ever more powerful hits. It also features the enigmatically repeating line “The sands of time are running low…”. Here, they sound like a beefed-up Purified In Blood.
Throughout, the succulently thick layers envelop the listener. Whichever you choose to lock onto, be it the scrawling multiple-overlaid vocal, the demonic throat-scouring or the slow, persistent driven quality, you are always plugged in. And then there’s the moments when they revert to feeding in old school elements. One particular track that will give you a shit-eating grin is the thrashed-up “Castle Of Sorrow”. The firey, metallic tang, of the thing throwing out curses in twin-speed attack with pillar-to-post riffage is a joy. Even the monotonous closer “The Edge Of Time” has value here with its long, weighty, sustained chord strikes and maddening Acid King-esque ethereal doom.
There are negatives to consider. These aren’t so much songs as they are a series of flavours. There is an over-reliance on sheer power when the variety of attack should be the star. With trigger points supplied by the guttural roared sections they do have a tendency to batter the eardrums a little too often. A solid wall of noise each time will only drive you in one direction. And the album does rely a little too much on needless party tricks. As an example, “Safeguard Of Death”‘s automaton vocal intoning instructions over and over will drive you nuts.
Earth Ship are essentially like getting all your favourite foods and putting them on a single plate. Consume each individual part carefully and you’ll love this experience. Mix them all up and it’ll taste like something you’d give to your dog.
(7.5/10 John Skibeat)