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Sea of Bones : The Earth Wants Us Dead

"Supermassive". That's the word to best sum up the monster which Sea Of Bones have unleashed as their sophomore release.

Massive. No, supermassive. That's the word to best sum up the monster which Sea Of Bones have deliberately, and with malice aforethought, unleashed as their sophomore release. It's taken them a while to build it (debut 'The Harvest' came out in 2006), but it's a huge beast, and there were obviously plenty of body parts to collect and assemble before it could be hooked up to the lightning-rod and electroshocked into existence. Unlike the traditional type of mad scientist, misguidedly expecting his creation to wear the face of an angel in spite of its dodgily-stitched-together origins, though, the trio from Connecticut are under no such illusions. You can imagine their moment of stormy midnight triumph going something like: "Hahaha - it lives...erm, guys, do you think we made it ugly enough?"

Well, yes, they did. Except, sometimes, when it can hide in the deepest shadows and pretend, however briefly, to don a semblance of beauty. Best not to be fooled by that, though: the soul of this bastard creature is still the same black-hearted amalgamation of ultra-bleak noise, cobbled together from the darkest remnants of Sludge, Psych, Post-Rock, Post-Metal and Post-Doom. And it's angry. In a huge, tectonic, blindly indifferent way: one that doesn't care who or what it crushes underfoot.

At least, that's the story of the first five tracks and fifty-odd minutes, which rightly earn the expected comparisons with Neurosis, et al. Hoarse vocals shout and snarl their tortured fury against massive, lumbering, distorted riffs, rumbling bass vibrations and drumbeats brutally pounded into submission. Unlike many practitioners of this über-extreme style, however, Sea Of Bones sound like they really mean it: it's an ugliness the sound was born with, rather than painstakingly grafted on and built up for maximum effect. The raw, unadorned, in-your-face production helps keep that sense of reality firmly rooted throughout. It's a nice touch, too, that all three band members contribute vocals, introducing a subtle variety - and some interplay - into the gruff aggression typical of Post- genres.

Best tracks of this section are perhaps the last two, for subverting, to an extent, the ongoing onslaught. 'Beneath The Earth' devotes half of its ten-minute length to inducing a false sense of security with Explosions In The Sky-style Post-Rock exploration, before twisting it into a slow and savage closing section. Much the same as 'The Bridge', in fact, although the much longer second section is far more energetic and driving, concluding with a sublime, piercing guitar passage.

It is at this point, when you think you have the full measure of the band, that they spring a complete surprise: the final track, the eponymous 'The Earth Wants Us Dead', being a forty-minute improvised canvas of Drone/Doom textures and pulsating Space-Rock-inspired rhythms. The slow, slow build-up, deeply-threaded effects and eerily-echoing drumbeats remind me of nothing so much as a modern, heavier take on Pink Floyd's 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun'. As a track on its own, it's a fantastic example of how to draw the listener in through atmosphere, tension and hypnotic repetition: as a counterpart and requiem to the brutal juggernaut of the earlier pieces, it's an idea born of mad genius.

Clocking in at over ninety minutes in total, you certainly couldn't quibble about value for money here: even if you only like one or other half of the album, you're still getting a fair chunk of the genre in question - not only that, but a well-executed, interesting and involving example, to boot. If you happen to be one of those whose tastes span both, welcome to whatever cold, grim place substitutes for heaven in the heart of a monster. 'The Earth Wants Us Dead': perhaps so - and listening to this, you could certainly believe it. Maybe even welcome it. It's that powerful and exciting a release.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. The Stone The Slave And The Architect
2. Black Arm
3. Failure Of Light
4. Beneath The Earth
5. The Bridge
6. The Earth Wants Us Dead

Duration : Approx. 91 minutes

Visit the Sea of Bones bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-11-04 by Mike Liassides
Rotten Copper
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