In a world where At the Drive In appear on the front cover of the NME on a seemingly weekly basis, It’s amazing that Earthtone 9 aren’t gaining the same plaudits. Whereas I heard ATDI and was severely disappointed, this albums simply wipes the floor with that. Leave all your expectation sat the door and be prepared to enter into one of the most under-rated metal albums of the year. Come into this album with an open mind and be prepared to be amazed.
Beginning with an etheral tribal beat that wouldn’t seem out of place in something from the real world back catalogue, all Egyptian and Morrocan influences and female vocals (or so it seems). In 47 minutes it weaves its spell across you, and no way should this simply be thought of as a “metal” album. It’s simply one of the albums that expands and goes beyond any niche you care to call it. In the opening track alone, “Tai Twan Ssi”, it goes from third world tribalism to savage metallic emo-core melodicism, and back. If this lot were American, we’d love them and put them on the front cover every week rather than simply write them off as being yet another Brit metal band. But because they aren’t American, - and therefore aren’t the next Korn or Slipknot and therefore aren’t cool – the music press won’t do that. Which is a damn big pity, because this album deserves far far better than that.
It ain’t one for the MTV generation; they don’t wear red boilersuits or have spiky hair , though the attire at the Lost Weekend earlier this year (transparent clingfilm trousers anyone?) certainly got a few peoples attention. There’s more to this band that what they wear. They ain’t pretty boys, but nonetheless, this album is definitely one of the surprises of the years. Creating a riffmongous wall of noise that certainly impresses, with melodic huge guitar lines and choruses (or is it chori?) , there’s simply not a duffer on this album. Bringing together an eclectic array of influences, everything from third World music to thrash metal, and making into something far far bigger and better than that. Equal parts Paradise Lost, Pixies, and total and utter metallic but melodic savagery, with huge heavy but tuneful riffs, offbeat and unpredictable drum work, etheral choruses that sound like Fear Factory and so big they could solve the national debt of a third world country, this album is simply the biggest surprise of the year. Not one for the fakirs or angst-u-like crowd, simply fucking good music. Come into this album with an open mind, leave your preconceptions at the door, and prepare to be surprised. I was.
Easily a contender for metal album of this (or any other) year, and nothing short of essential.
10Graham Reed's Score