Sunday, 6 February 2011

Buried Treasure: earthtone9 - arc'tan'gent

Every now and then I feel the urge to foist a classic-yet-under appreciated album on you lovely people, in the form of the Buried Treasure post series. This is one such time...

It's easy for a sound to become dated in a very short space of time, especially in the world of metal. As quickly as exciting waves of genres like thrash and nu-metal rose to tsunami-like proportions, in little time they had crashed upon the shores of the ensuing generation's altered tastes.

Once in a while a select few bands will carve out a heavy niche that garners plaudits above the trends. Tool and Nine Inch Nails have proven to be artists flying the flag for such sounds and, if you find comfort in their forward-looking take on combining alt-rock groove with metal bluster, you probably would have adored earthtone9.

Now long defunct, these firebrands from Berkshire, England, signed off sadly in 2002 but on an undeniable high. The subtle beauty of their final Omega EP contrasted superbly with their magnum opus, 2000's arc'tan'gent. An alternately raging and reflective beast, the album must rank as one of the most unfortunately overlooked works by a British metal act - and there were many - of its time. 

Given the period, the most suitable comparison would be Deftones' White Pony, an album that challenged every facet of knuckle headed nu-metal at the time and set that band up to outlast a genre in its death throes. Multi-layered, spacious and quiet yet holding all the brute force of lesser metal bands, both albums stand out as works that pushed ever possible genre boundary within losing sight of what made it so invigorating in the first place.

MP3: earthtone9 - Tat Twam Asi
Taken from the album of focus here and also 
new compilation 'Inside, Embers Glow...' 
(available as full free download here)

From the tribal drumming of opener Tat Twam Asi, through the angular bombast of Star Damage For Beginners and cosmic dirge of Yellow Fever, the band sound perfectly aligned on arc'tan'gent. Karl Middleton's voice is only marginally below Maynard James Keenan in the range stakes, from soaring to searing, as Owen Packards guitar shears through the mix to provide walls of violently glistening noise. I's a fierce, complete album. One of those that you can listen to from start to finish and still feel just as exhilarated as when the disc began spinning.

It goes without saying that you should check out the free compilation released last year (see above)  to celebrate the legacy of the band. It's well worth picking up this release in its entirety too, though, given how perfectly it all gels together. If you're lucky enough to be over in the UK, you can also catch the briefly reunited band demonstrating just how vital they were at the following locations in May:

earthtone9 UK Tour 2011 w/ The Ocean, Maybeshewill, and Humanfly

17th May – Birmingham Academy 2
18th May – Durham Live Lounge
19th May – Glasgow Stereo
20th May – Manchester Club Academy
21st May – Bristol Thekla
22nd May – London Relentless Garage

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