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Earth and Pillars - Earth II

Earth and Pillars
Earth II
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 11 December 2019, 7:58 AM

I went into this review with the understanding that EARTH AND PILLARS plays Atmospheric Black Metal.  The subgenre is a rich one, with a lot of bands that write albums with enough depth to fill an ocean.  Well, this Italian band have written an album with enough depth to fill the universe.

This was a hard album to review, and I mean that in a good way.  At times, this didn’t seem like music but instead more of an actual experience that I was just hearing instead of seeing.  Although the band definitely is Metal, complete with crushing riffs and Blackened vocals, the focus is definitely on the buildup.  Each of the four tracks can be heavy dirge that clings to atmosphere like it is the last thing left on the Earth, though they all have more intense moments.   This album is so immense and condensed with layers upon layers; within its focus there is a lack of focus.  As such, I’m not sure how many people would be able to sit through this album in one setting.  With just four tracks but a little over an hour long, it is definitely a journey—and one that is better listened to straight thru instead of individual moments because each track blends in with the next almost perfectly.

The first track, “Becoming,” is brought to life by the perpetual force that is wind.  It brings with it ambient tones and clean guitar.  It swirls and engulfs you and at the height of it all, the hammer drops and the heavy riffs appear with the gruff vocals.  It feels like something more should had happened here…perhaps more bombastic moments or a faster tempo but it doesn’t arrive yet. Later we are treated to something more along the lines of Black Metal, the quiet nature of the song’s earlier moments completely torn away by the rough nature of…well, nature.  I’m not quite sure of the concept but it seems the band wanted the music to represent nature and the elements therefore of.  I say they have certainly succeeded.

As this tracks ends like falling down a raging waterfall, the second one, appropriately titled “Falling,” begins.  It is a thousand foot drop down the side of a watery mountain, a battle between gravity and nature’s other powerful forces.  The music here is definitely more gripping and fast paced but the guitars drown out the drums, especially the snare.  I think this is more of a mixing problem than true production issues as the album does sound great.  I can’t help but feel this track might had served better as the intro as it is more attention grabbing but, then again, that might screw with the band’s concepts.

The third track, “Ascending,” is even more harrowing.  It does have a feel of rising tension but, perhaps, rising to something great, to unknown heights and experiences.  I think this might be my favorite track of the four because the music is much more balanced.  With this one, the Blackened fury perfectly mixes with the more organic, ambient atmospheric tones.  I also feel like this track goes through the biggest transformation, especially in the song’s last moments that offer an intense but quieter more introspective look at the bigger picture.

The final track, “Howling,” has, of course, howling winds at the forefront but the music is equally as deadly.  The drums lay down a caustic foundation, as do the guitar with its perfect Blackened tones.   This is such an interesting track because the music is so heavy but yet the approach is methodical and laborious. EARTH AND PILLARS have created an album…nay, an experience and adventure, that manages to transcend even the already far out there ideas of Atmospheric Black Metal.  If you have what it takes to explore this musical world they have created, you will find many awards among the deep, vast setting.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Becoming
2. Falling
3. Ascending
4. Howling
Lineup:
F – Drum programming
Z – Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
B - Drums
Record Label: Avantgarde Music
     


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