ALBUM OF THE DAY: EARTHSHIP, EXIT EDEN
Earthship‘s name is a funny thing, because the music the band makes takes us exactly away from Earth, not towards it. It’s strange to hear such otherworldly sounds these days, but it’s also quite refreshing. Like the best music should do, it creates vivid mental images. And that’s not something I often hear.
Exit Eden is one of numerous recent projects involving The Ocean mastermind Robin Staps, present in this band as rhythm guitarist. Like most of Staps’ projects, Eden is really good; in this case, however, the entirety of the songwriting is done by his bandmate, Jan Orberg (former drummer for The Ocean.) Orberg emplys a wide variety of techniques for his compositions. His style is far removed from Staps’ musical tendencies, even though there are definite similarities. Sadly, the album doesn’t have a whole lot to offer vocally — Orberg and drummer Dennis Bottcher sound an awful lot like The Ocean’s Mike Pilat used to sound — but that’s almost insignificant considering the musical prowess of the rest of the record.
Eden, like many other releases Staps has worked on, is, above all, still a heavy sludge and doom album. But it’s no generic work. The music is so different from what anyone else is doing right now, and is remarkably varied — no two songs sound alike. Orberg’s guitar work on Exit Eden conjures up a mental amalgamation of trainwrecks, live wires, and blues — an intensely electric musical voyage aboard a doomed vessel. The bizarre melodies on “Born With a Blister” are almost jazzy — not musically, perhaps, but the swing feel of the tune often reminds me of The Dillinger Escape Plan at its weirdest. Then tracks like “7 Grace” have an Opeth-mixed-with-Alcest atmosphere, blending melodic acoustic guitar with airy vocals.
That said, the album doesn’t lose any of its heaviness even while mixing in unusual elements; it’s still a sprawling expanse of a release. Song titles like “A Line Divides” and “A Feast for Vultures” fit the music perfectly. The former includes a ferocious buildup before dividing into a melodic break, while the latter is a slow, low, and barren compilation of thunderous riffs. And the album’s title fits the musical progression, beginning with the ominous “Caught in a Storm” and conducting a harrowing journey before finally finishing with the quiet, reflective “…As If She Were a Blackbird.”
Exit Eden is still one of the most impressive releases I’ve heard in a while, and other bands would do well to follow the myriad of styles incorporated into the album. There aren’t many groups that can combine this sort of heaviness, this sort of melody, and this sort of catchiness while still remaining a metal band.