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Enter The Soil : That Amber Lit Morning

Enter The Soil (formerly Hirsute) offer a polished sophomore take on '90s Death/Doom.

Enter The Soil (formerly Hirsute - unlike myself, who remains one step off Orangutan to this day) is a one man project run by Justin Chorley of Wellington, New Zealand. Hirsute released a singular full length, 'Still Waiting', back in 2014, before re-branding in 2017 to release the subject of today's review: 'That Amber Lit Morning'. As far as I recall, this is the first Doom act from NZ I have come across - possibly explaining why Justin has had to do everything by himself.

Enter The Soil is a project outputting the kind of melodic and melancholic Death/Doom popularised in the early '90s, and still seeing a decent number of records released each year to this day. Everything here is written and performed to a high standard, and Iíd be hard pressed to guess what Justin considers his 'primary instrument' - other than drums played by a nameless machine (remember when bands named their drum machines exciting things like Doktor Avalanche andÖ er, I canít think of any other examples, so not sure what my point is!). I find the clean vocals especially good, and was very pleasantly surprised when they made their first appearance, over 6 minutes into second track 'The Coffin And The Moth'. I think they are a real strength that are sadly under utilised. To be fair, the growled vocals are also great, so it isnít really an issue.

The recording and mix, whilst having a tiny veneer of home studio about it is generally very impressive as well, and sounds at least as good as anything we worshipped in 1993. The only thing I would suggest, from one solo-doomster to another, is that while the drum programming is very well done from a composition point of view, with patterns that sound just like something a real Death/Doom drummer would play, the lack of variety in velocity and timing of hits makes its non-human providence clear. Adding some variation here, either manually, or using my personal preferred (lazy) method of adding a small degree of randomness to the timing and velocity of hits (every piece of recording software that handled MIDI that I have used was able to do this), would move the programming to the next level, where most people would not be able to identify that real drums were not used. The only other real production pointer is that in some of the cleaner and quieter portions I can hear a bit of buzz/hum when listening loud on headphones - something that occurs in my own home studio if I dare to do something as reckless as having the light on whilst tracking.

'That Amber Lit Morning' doesnít really stray too far off the traditional Death/Doom path. It sounds, as a lot of records do nowadays, like 'Serenades' or 'Turn Loose The Swans' filtered through 30 years of fine tuning and tweaking to find what does and doesnít work in the genre. Fortunately, with a vast amount of prior art to build upon, this record hits all the right notes. Itís just that Iíve heard so many records that do the same at this point, and Iím struggling to spot anything that makes Enter The Soil stick out from the crowd. Still, it's very well done and enjoyable to listen to, so if you are after yet more of this kind of thing, this is a more than adequate entry in the genre. And let's not forget that this is the work of a single individual, always impressive in itself, especially when executed so well.

As a solo project recording project from about as far away from the major Doom scenes of Europe and America as you can get, Iím not sure whether Enter The Soil will ever be more than a hobby project. Personally I find there's a level of purity in making records alone, with no real chance of fame and fortune, just for the joy of making records. I think if my home scene of the UK had more people focusing solely on the music and not on being a real big celebrity on their local bar scene, I might not be quite so jadedÖ Anyway, there is nothing here that wouldnít fit on the roster of any number of indy-Doom labels Iíve reviewed records from, so whatever the ambitions, hopefully this is a project that will continue to mature long enough that its own unique voice may begin to shine through.

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. The Day The Boy Drowned
2. The Coffin And The Moth
3. My Only Creation Is Gone
4. The Never Changing River
5. The Inevitable End

Duration : Approx. 42 minutes

Visit the Enter The Soil bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-10-22 by Kris Clayton
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