Saturday 24 January 2015

Earthmass - Collapse (Album Review)

Collapse cover art

Album Type: Album
Date Released: 02nd February 2015
Label: Prismatik Records / Big Riff Records

Collapse – Track Listing

4.Loom (i.Drowse ii.Barren)


EARTHMASS is a four piece band from Essex, South-East England.


Chris Houghton - Guitar & Vocals
Chris Saunders - Guitar
Rob Saunders - Bass
Jack Burley - Drums & Vocals


One look at the cosmic panorama gracing the cover of Earthmass’ latest release gives a good indication of what awaits within. “Collapse” is a journey into the void comprising four slabs of galactic psychedelic rock, boasting levels of low-end likely to induce a strong gravitational pull.

I’ve witnessed this Essex quartet in the live arena a couple of times over the past 12 months and have been highly impressed. Their style of lengthy songs comprising periods of atmospheric calm interspersed with crunching distortion and sparingly-used vocals could easily be labelled as post-metal, but lumping them together with the many Isis/Neurosis sound-alikes does them a disservice. The way Earthmass execute their songs lends them an individuality that sets them apart sonically from their peers. Favouring a more minimal and restrained approach to riffs and melodic sections lends the band an understated power which can be much more affecting than the effects-pedal overload of others.

The previous self-titled recording by the band did a good job of conveying their considerable songwriting talent but didn’t quite capture the serious weight of their live sound. This has been rectified in style this time around by enlisting the supreme knob twiddling talents of Slabdragger’s Sam Thredder. You only have to wait a few second into opener “Awake/Crisis” for evidence of this as a thunderous riff and urgent vocals engulf the brief clean intro. Coming across like a meaner, uglier cousin of Mogwai’s “We’re No Here” equipped with iron balls, this sets the scene for trio of riff-heavy tracks that take Earthmass into more aggressive and metallic territory. The relatively brief four-minute “Divergence” kicks off with a lumbering dirty riff and vocals reminiscent of “Red” era Baroness before heading into the more traditional doom-feeling “Weakling”. Although they work a treat as individual tracks, this opening trio almost feels like a suite split into three movements, such is the effortless flow between them.

I’m a sucker for pretentious prog-style elaborate song titling. Any kind of splitting tracks into multiple parts or individually titled movements gets a big thumbs up from me. Earthmass embrace this style here with the sprawling, 18-minute finale “Loom” which is split into two sections: i. “Drowse” and ii. “Barren”. “Drowse” initially takes “Collapse” into a quieter, spacier place than that explored in the previous three riff-heavy tracks. Beginning with a hypnotic jam section that brings to mind Tool playing Om’s “At Giza”, the band then switch to crunching heaviness and back again. An eerie, clean guitar motif is introduced that recalls the menacing intimacy of Slint which is soon enveloped in distortion and twisted through different forms and variations. Apologies to the band if I’ve called this wrong, but this wall of sound is then reduced to quiet to usher in “Barren” with a groovier more frenetic variation on the mesmeric jam that began “Drowse”. This leads to one final punishing one-chord staccato attack that brings the track and the record to a suitably powerful conclusion.

Another excellent release from Earthmass then that continues to develop their vast sonic prowess and deserves to make them a big name in the UK metal scene. I will be purchasing a copy of this on vinyl, you can’t say better than that when it comes to a recommendation.

Words by Charlie Butler

Collapse will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from February 02nd 2015.

For more information