Russia’s Ea are buried beneath a dark and cosmic veil, one which separates the band from reality through their mysterious and inexplicable music. Now don’t get me wrong, this is all quite exciting - but what are Ea really? Yes, that’s right; they’re just another funeral doom band. I’m not one to be fazed by the hordes of funeral doom groups pandering to the tenets of consumerism, but it is a teensy weensy bit irritating when a band seems to earn a reputation purely based on their obscurity, which is, in my opinion, mostly manufactured. However, let me change my tack here for a second – Ea are quite good. Their second album, appropriately named Ea II
, consists of two untitled funeral dirges, which flow in and out of depressing soundscapes, tranquil ambiance and monolithic turmoil. But really, it’s not that amazing, and it’s not hugely notable in terms of the entire genre, so in that respect I’m left a little disappointed when hearing the band for the first time after being dragged a little down the line by the hype train.
The one thing Ea certainly have all figured out is constructing a fluid and enveloping atmosphere – the hum of synth, background choirs, saturating riffs, piano interludes, all of which collude and provide a snug cushion for the mournful lead guitar and the guttural vocals. Ea may be from Russia, but they’re far more appropriately compared with Finnish bands such as Colosseum
, Shape of Despair
, or, to a far lesser extent, funeral doom legends Skepticism
. In fact, the more the band steep themselves in contemporary funeral doom lore and further away from the inventiveness and innovation of bands like Skepticism, the more critical I become – we’ve just heard all of this before. And that’s what the real ‘X-factor’ is here – if you want some epic, glacial funeral doom that you can pore over, Ea will provide only temporary relief. While I know for sure that albums like Farmakon
will be still on my general playlists in the future, Ea II
will probably not, despite the fact their brand of ‘accessible’ funeral doom washes over the listener with remarkable ease.
Undoubtedly, the composition here is very good - the term ‘epic’ does not even begin to describe it. Each track begins slowly and churns through heart-wrenching and mind-melting movements. Both tracks certainly have their moments, and while I am picky when it comes to my doom, Ea II
is certainly well-constructed and enjoyable. What irks me the most though is that despite the band’s talent, the only thing that separates them from the majority of other funeral doom acts is the fact that nothing is known about them, and this sense of obscurity makes them just that little bit more sought after. It must be noted though that Ea are from Russia, and this is rather significant – you could expect something like this from Finland, but coming from Russia, which along with many other Eastern European countries is awash with generic and trite doom of all kinds, is certainly surprising. Perhaps in the Russian scene, Ea are paving the way for a newer, more mature contemporary style, but in an overall perspective, Ea get their doom on for two doomy tracks, and leave the listener a little more doomed than they were before. But this is definitely not the end of the world kind of doom, and these days it’s hard to settle for any less.