This might sound crazy, but for us music writers, it’s easy for a record to fly under the radar. How is that possible when we’re serviced with just about every metal release that comes out every year? Seriously, if you saw the backlog in my inbox of things I haven’t even downloaded yet, you would be appalled. Keeping up is a separate job!
That’s why it’s no shock that even a mighty and devastating record such as Sea of Bones’ “The Earth Wants Us Dead” can slip by me unnoticed last fall. I’m not happy about it, and it makes me realize no matter how hard I work at it, and no matter how much music I absorb, this is going to happen from time to time. Luckily, some timely factors came into play that brought this hulking Connecticut-based trio to my attention. First, they played a Saturday slot at Gilead Media Fest 2014 a few weeks back, and they were absolutely astonishing. Loud, earth-quaking, and organically savage, the band blew me over and made an indelible impression on my psyche. Just like that, they became a doom band I needed to move to the front of my brain and follow their every step. The second timely detail is Gilead is releasing “The Earth…,” the band’s second full-length release, on a triple vinyl collection that lets it breathe new life and overcome the sorry bastards who missed out when it was released last year. People like me!
With all of that power, it might seem unlikely just three people could conjure such strength. But, indeed, it’s true, and the might of these three men is on full display throughout this six-track crusher. On guitars and vocals for this band is Tommy Mucherino; on bass and vocals is Gary Amedy; and on drums is Kevin Wigginton, who beats his drum kit into submission live. Now, you may be asking why triple vinyl for this record? Good question, and here’s the answer: Because it’s a beast. The first five songs all are crushing epics that take up the first two records, and the final song is a nearly 40-minute ambient piece that benefits from this presentation. It’s a massive set, and it is well worth your investment if trudging doom and drone is your thing.
“The Stone the Slave and the Architect” is the first assault on your senses, bringing the murky doom and dread and, with it, monstrous vocals that sound like they could shake you to your core. “Denounce the prophet!” is howled viciously, as the machine keeps moving forward, always relentlessly heavy and with a destructive display of drumming. Great opener. “Black Arm” opens with feedback that delves into crunch, with the riffs ruling hard and the rest of the song turning sludgy and mean. The song just roars with animalistic force, with the music simmering and teasing full boil, the vocals bursting with grisly intent, and the band pounding away over and over again. “Future of Light” is my favorite track on the record, and it starts inauspiciously, with quiet strains of guitar and gentle trickling that you know cannot last forever. It’s easy to feel the magnitude of this thing right away, and as it builds toward a bursting point, you feel your mind ready to open up to its energy. Slow-served doom and muddy guitars dominate, with the vocals achieving new levels of chaos. The song even picks up the pace toward the end, something Sea of Bones do not do all that often, but then it’s back to mammoth-style trudging as the 13:28-long song reaches its final resting place.
“Beneath the Earth” offers tranquility at the start, playing softly and letting some breezes move through the room. But then the bottom drops out, and clubbing takes over fully, with the words, “You’re the cancer inside of all,” blowing down walls and pillars. The music is calculated and awesome, and the final moments are scorched by noise hiss and creaky shrieks. “The Bridge” is a fascinating beast at 12:55, opening with a long passage of quieter tones and playing that seems willing to let you ease into the picture. About four minutes in, the track gets impossibly heavy, just wailing on everything in its wake, with massive howls collaborating with sick growls. The song continues on its way, leaving a gigantic path carved into the Earth’s crust behind it, with guitars rising up and burning faces, and the concluding howls of, “Always remember what brought us here,” caving in your chest. The title track is the aforementioned 39:32-long closer, a piece that is expert at setting a spooky mood that makes it feel like a dense fog is rolling in and staying all stormy day long. The pace never really changes, though some drums slip in here and there to push the tempo a bit, guitars charge up and act like heat lightning, and much of the ambiance sets up what would be a proper soundtrack for entering and searching a desolate planet in the early morning hours. You don’t know where you’re going, what you’ll see, or if you’ll survive, but the spirit of the chase is what keeps your heart burning and you on the path. Amazing track.
Sea of Bones’ power and force cannot be questioned, and if you ever witnessed the band live, you know damn well your ears and organs never will be the same from the beating they endured. I really wish I had jumped on “The Earth Wants Us Dead” when the band released it last year, but better late than never. These guys are an incredible force, one you should tune into now because it won’t be long until their name is uttered alongside some of the greats like Neurosis, Buried at Sea, and Sunn 0))) if their sonic momentum continues to catapult the band forward. Seriously, just an awesome band.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sea-of-Bones/35253450819
To buy the album on vinyl, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/
To get the album digitally, go here: https://seaofbones.bandcamp.com/album/the-earth-wants-us-dead
For more on the label, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/