Review Summary: A grand manifestation of melancholy
While there’s plenty of familiarity and traditional doom songwriting to be found on Doom:VS’s third album, its sound is flawless enough to make me not care for comparisons, make me not care for other bands, make me oblivious to pretty much everything else while Earthless
is playing. In that sense, there couldn’t have been a more fitting title for this record. I can’t call it a meditative album, though. During meditation, you strive to shut down your brain so you could effectively experience perfect harmony with the environment in which you’re in, cleansing your mind in the process. Earthless
works the other way around: while it does a magnificent job of absorbing you during its 50-minute run time, much like meditation does, it sets your mind alight, rather than your senses. The album carries with it an aura that is austere, melancholic, bereft of sunlight, but one that above all excels at comprehensively nailing the listener into place and fixing his mind on the subject matter. There’s no real point in highlighting separate tracks here, as the album sounds best when experienced in full, building from crawling opening cuts to an explosive climax. As crushing guitars and deep growls eventually crash and entwine with powerful melodies, a level of clarity is reached at the end of the record. In a way, Doom:VS’s latest offering is a story of release, though there’s no real light or a higher plateau awaiting at the end of the journey. Emotionally, the album opens up as it progresses, but when all is said and done, the end is still unmistakably bleak. Feeling different emotions along the way though, isn’t that the point?
It has a magical quality to it, Earthless
. It makes me dream bigger, think harder, envision broader. For example, it prompted me to write a long (and now entirely useless) paragraph about the sadness in us and how the album reflects it, although the source material’s scope is narrower and less abstract. Earthless
is an album consumed by death: it breathes death, describes death, aches death, warns about death, it even wants to defy death. There’s no hidden philosophy to be found here – all is out for the listener to see and hear. Yet, much like with death, it isn’t as simple as it sounds. This seemingly straightforward doom metal album keeps opening doors leading to unexplored spaces with each new listen. Every single song on here has taken me over during different spells, from the hopeless title track to the unexpectedly soaring "Oceans of Despair", and all have abled my mind to portray very different images, in both tone and visuals. Aside from rock solid musicianship, it comes down to human nature and our fascination with phenomena we can’t fully wrap our heads around that makes Earthless
as powerful as it is, I believe. After all, every event in our life that has to do with death has a profound effect on us, making us analyze and philosophize about our existence – we are, unmistakably, both frightful of and intrigued by it. Seeing as how multi-instrumentalist Johan Ericson deals with the subject and some of the emotions it invokes in an honest, musically engaging and thoughtful (albeit often indecipherable – grab a lyric sheet!) manner, it makes for, rather automatically, a fascinating record – one that has fantastic replay value and the ability to elicit fresh thoughts with every new spin. As many movie villains have proclaimed death to only be the beginning, the conclusion of the first playthrough to Earthless
is just a start.