I can’t ever remember reviewing an album where the government comes in for praise, but here due recognition is given to the Republic of Croatia’s Ministry of Culture for their support. This is the band’s second album release.

Wow. “Muna”, the opening track, starts up slowly and patiently. There is a spine-chilling melancholy in the air. As the guitar plods out its gloomy tune, the most haunting female voice you could ever imagine superimposes itself. The goosebump-inducing atmosphere will not be disturbed as the guitar continues its course into “Iam”. Now there is a distant voice of utter despair taking over. The guitar rhythm rises to the sombre occasion, becoming more powerful and even violent. Utter majesty reigns as this continuous soundscape enters the deep and dark territory of “Black Silt”. The familiar post metal ring is there but as the drum replicates a steady heartbeat, magical soundscapes and atmospheres of a celestial kind resound and create an awesome air consisting equally of rich flavours and delicacy. A tingling patter sounding like musical raindrops leads us into “Rivers Under”. Dark, shadow undercurrents weigh in, and the screaming vocalist pitches in from afar. Even Cult of Luna can’t do this better. The evolving mood is brilliant, captivating, majestic. Every chord has profound significance. I bask in the sheer depth and sophistication of this eerie piece of darkness. There’s no hurry. There doesn’t need to be. Monstrous soundscapes are being developed and they are absorbing me. Another patient guitar line and authoritative drum beats represent the melancholic humanity of “Captains of North”. Again it expands sonically and atmospherically but as ever it creeps up and takes over. I cannot escape the comparison with Cult of Luna once more, as the deadened, pounding drum and haunting magic enter the harsh landscape, which is enriched by the delicate ring of the guitar. It’s not overdone. It’s not underdone. Statements of pure emotion and melancholy are being expressed. Rich textures are being woven. “The Quiet Roads” starts in harsh and aggressive fashion but as ever it is tinged with the counterbalancing finery, in this case the wavy undercurrent. Hard and heavy instrumentals and vocals are on parade, but so are pure depth and swathes of colour. “The Quiet Roads” progresses in imperious fashion from one vivid scene to the next. An apocalyptic spoken section follows: “We live in a cesspool …. the keeper of the sewer – man”. Once again Emphasis succeed in adding another layer of lucity and expression to this rich work. The album finishes on a suitably sombre and harsh note, yet there is enormous majesty in all this.

“Black.Mother.Earth” is an album of concise self-expression and deep ambiance. I can feel that this means something to these Croatians. There is so much feeling and thought in this post metal masterpiece. Moreover, they succeed in entering my psyche with this truly powerful work. I take my hat off to this band for their creativity and to the Croatian Ministry of Culture for their support.

(9.5/10 Andrew Doherty)