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Drift Into Black – Earthtorn Award winner

Drift Into Black
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 13 June 2022, 5:46 AM

DRIFT INTO BLACK is a doom metal band from New Jersey, who formed in 2017. Craig Rossi (formerly of GREY SKIES FALLEN) handles vocals, guitars and keyboards. Joining him on this album is Paul LaPlaca (bass, OCTOBER THORNS), Klemen Markelj (drums, THE VICIOUS HEAD SOCIETY), Ben Karas (violin, WINDFAERER), and Melissa Hancock (additional vocals). DRIFT INTO BLACK have proven to be quite prolific, with "Earthtorn," being the fourth album since their full length debut in 2018 and releasing just a year after their previous album, "Patterns Of Light."

According to Black Lion's bandcamp page, "The album flows continuously, telling the story of the extinction of humankind seen through the eyes of an extraterrestrial visitor disguised as a human sent to mother earth to analyze our behavior and eventually deplete us of all our natural resources," Obviously, this story is dark and perfect for doom but it is also surprisingly heartfelt.  Craig's songwriting skills have always been on point, and the previous album was heartfelt, but the fact he can make an album about an alien so emotive is further proof of his skills continuing to increase. The album also sounds like a dream. Production, mixing….everything just pops and sounds well put together—the best sounding DRIFT INTO BLACK album so far.

Craig himself has improved his vocal capabilities quite a bit. His growls are deeper and more menacing. His cleans also seem more focused and engaged. Musically, this doom album has a lot of variety with elements of more traditional ideas, prog and even some ambient textures.  It is all huge in scope and compelling. The album in general just has a fresh, exciting sound.  I want to praise Paul and Klemen—these guys are an indispensable rhythm power house.  No offense to Mr. Rossi, but I don’t think the album would have quite the impact it does without them backing up his strong writing skills with their rock solid foundation.  Ben’s violin is majestic too and doesn’t have any issues with fitting into a science fiction them.  Melissa’s additional vocals are also worth nothing; I wish she was used more often!

The album opens with "Good Mourning Earth," featuring various sound bytes from earth over an atmospheric texture of keys.  It transitions over to first full track, "It Fell From The Sky." This song nails down a lot of what makes the album so special: catchy cleans, intense growls and an overall focus on putting the song first. A deadly barrage of drums opens the song as heavy riffs rain down. Melodies and clean vocals  show the band embraces mixing the light and dark elements. The bass absolutely slaps too. The growls transitions back into cleans (and vice versa) smoothly and the music doesn't have any issues doing the same. The middle portion belongs to the bass and guitars who hammer out a doom passage that makes way for the vocals and drums to have their own time to shine.

"The Ups And The Downs," is a very different track than any of the tracks that come before it. I get a huge post meets doom meets Pink Floyd type of vibe. The clean instrumentation and vocals are atmospheric, perhaps even ethereal as they just wash over you. The lead guitar that runs in and out of this space dust makes all the difference in connecting the spacey elements to what might be a chorus though it isn't repeated again. Afterwards, the music is alien and spacey but always fits the mood—and it segues expertly into a dreaming piece that is one part lead guitar and another part ambient. An epic, lovely song that shows off the dynamics they are capable of pulling off, when needed.

"Left To The Burning Sun," beings immediately with heavy riffs and melody becoming one as it flows into a beautiful violin section. The clean vocals here are absolutely striking because they work wonders with the music backing them up. The song alternates between cleans and growls, clean and heavy instruments before the mid section turns the song abrasive but it winds into a melodic section soon after and unique keys that lend the song a twist and while the bass and drums rip it up. "On Borrowed Time," is a mini epic of the human race and the tragedies it will be left too. This is a somber tune in the beginning moments and Craig's voice reflect this. Around the four minute mark some of the best doom to riffs I've heard all year strike hard with slow grinding groove. The last minute or so is very climatic, each instrument leading up through the rising action before suddenly ending—just as we humans will too eventually.

The final track is an ode to the story and album, an instrumental that is well done and does an amazing job of capping the whole album off although I feel “Patterns Of Light,” was much more somber in tone and atmosphere, and that is something I miss about the album, but “Earthtorn,” tells a story just as tragic, if not more so because it’s about the human race as a whole.  I don’t know if this is a good thing or not but this album came at the right time because with everything going on in the world today it really does seem like the human race is completely fucked.  But if we are all going to die, might as well have this kickass soundtrack playing while it happens.

In the first half of this year, “Earthtorn,” is doubt no doubt one of the best doom albums released. If you like the genre, get on this but if you don’t care for doom, the dynamics of the album will probably pull you in anyway.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Good Mourning Earth
2. It Fell from the Sky
3. The March to Oblivion
4. Angel of Doom
5. Ghost on the Shore
6. The Ups and the Downs
7. Weight of Two Worlds
8. Left to the Burning Sun
9. On Borrowed Time
10. Mankind
Craig Rossi – Vocals, Guitars, Keys
Paul LaPlaca – Bass
Klemen Markelj – Drums
Ben Karas – Violin
Melissa Hancock – Vocals
Record Label: Black Lion Records


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