Tuesday 2 August 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Earthship - "Hallowed"

By: Gerardo Pacheco

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/06/2016
Label: Napalm Records

“Hallowed” is well represented with monolithic riffs, multi layered vocal arrangements and in standout track “Monolith” it delivers one of the heaviest moments within the course of the album. To me it appears as if the band had held back on us up until this point, because they have unleashed a truly astonishing album, which pummels and pounds you with a thick narcotic groove.  This album is sonic alchemy of all their best elements, making this album a great listen and one to be admired.

“Hallowed” CD//DD track listing :

1.Reduced to Ashes (04:11)
2.Hollowed (04:26)
3.Valley of Thorns (03:42)
4.Conjured (03:25)
5.Monolith (04:04)
6.In Fire's Light (04:13)
7.In the Arms of Medusa (03:14)
8.Castle of Sorrow (03:46)
9.Safeguard of Death (04:38)
10.Red Leaves (04:26)
11.The Edge of Time (07:09)
12.Blood Candy (Bonus on Limited edition) (03:08)
13.The Edge of Time (Bonus on Limited edition) (04:11)
14.Hollowed (Bonus on Limited edition) (03:33)

The Review:

The almighty vessel that is Earth Ship (or Earthship, depending on who you ask) set sail back in 2011 from the Grey City of Berlin, DE, with their debut album “Exit Eden” (Pelagic Records, 2011).  The aforementioned LP set the model of sound they were striving to achieve, that which became evident when they literally dropped the bulky “Iron Chest” (Pelagic Records, 2013) followed by hasty riff-seared “Withered” (Pelagic Records, 2014).

This new entry in their proverbial log marks the departure from Germany’s Pelagic Records, wayfaring to Austria’s well respected Napalm Records. This 47 minute jaunt (or 58 minutes on the Limited Edition) gets under way with eerie atmospherics on “Reduced to Ashes”, unfolding the sludge canvas to take advantage of favourable stoner winds.

A progressive tide hits the keel on the title track, and we get a glimpse into the Oberg’s (Sabine & Jan) multi layered vocal arrangements that leads into a pounding breakdown bringing Earth Ship about.  Coming at you like a knockdown wave in the middle of a thunderstorm comes “Valley Of Thorns” the albums 1st single, rolling with the fury of a hundred oars, guided by Florian Häuser’s pulsating beats, which then give way to a blinding solo to finish it all off. Sabine then steers the tempo on “Conjured”, which reminds us of early 90s Seattle fuzz-infused resonance. Dissonant riffing complements the underlying bass tone in conjunction with the Oberg’s crooning. Standout track “Monolith” carries on with the post-grunge banner, only to strike those colours and supplant it with one of the heaviest moments within the course of the first half of the record.

Opening the second leg of the expedition, “In Fire’s Light” sees the band harken back to their sludge foundation, pummelling and pounding through a thick narcotic groove with some math rock hooks, supplemented by melodic dual humming which compliment Janus’s harsh vocal work expertly. Kicking things up a notch, the tempo for “In The Arms Of Medusa” arrives like a Gorgon army ready to smash your teeth in, and do pay attention to the commanding ride cymbal accents on this one, some fine wrist work on display.

Don’t be fooled by “Castle Of Sorrow”s gloomy title as it picks up right where “Medusa” left off. A commanding riff smack in between thrash and black metal drives the chant, until it gives way to a head banging chorus. It is from this point forward that I truly believe that the band starts experimenting with their sounds and evolve to what was presented on the 2nd and 3rd singles that pre-empted the release. For example, the figurative view from the “Safeguard of Death” provides a different take on Jan’s vocals, going for a clear, trance-inducing approach, riding shotgun on top of a sped-up doom/heavy metal pattern, before shifting without skipping a beat to a more radio commercial friendly sound to lock up the track.

Keeping up with that sound I alluded to before, they plunge further into the heavy tone while holding the clean singing routine on “Red Leaves”, another standout track on its own. As we near shore, we see the band reach “The End Of Time”, well represented by its monolithic opening riff. It’s stupid to judge this, but to me it appears as if the band had held back on us up until this point, where they unleash a truly astonishing anthem. Sonic alchemy of all the elements that make this album a great listen can be admired here. A truly sombre (not in a bad way) and majestic way for Earth Ship to meld with the sunset.

If you happen to get the Limited Edition of this release, you get “Blood Candy”, an interesting sludge/post metal instrumental one off that reminds me of the “Withered” days, as well as acoustic versions of “Hollowed” and “The End Of Time” which present a different shade to the bands traditional sound, well worth acquiring if available.

Hollowed” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook