Sea of Bones - The Earth Wants Us Dead
Doom Metal/Drone
Disc 1: 5 songs (52' 8") Disc 2: 1 songs (39' 32")
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Andy

Sea of Bones' second full-length, The Earth Wants Us Dead, requires a bit of patience to listen to, but the tracks do pay off after a while for the dedicated listener. I'm not a major drone guy -- I just grabbed this one on a whim --, but after listening to it, I can't say I'm sorry with the results, except for the title track. More on that later.

The Stone, the Slave and the Architect starts off promisingly, if, as one might guess, somewhat slow. This actually reminded me a lot of an earlier album we reviewed, Conan's Monnos...but less tight, noisier and slower. The vocals alternate between roared shouts from across a deep abyss to slow growls with the feel of death metal vocals occasionally, while the snare drums reverberate noisily enough to make it sound like the drummer is hammering on garbage cans partially filled with ball bearings at times. Guitar-wise, Tom Mucherino hits the listener with slowly crushing riffs framed with lots of background feedback/noise that have some Black Sabbath ancestry to them, but an almost psychedelic vibe as well, especially when he finally trails off on the last few seconds of the song. Black Arm is much noisier and action-filled, the vocals ripping at the listener and rarely quieting down, any more than the guitars and drums, though in the middle of the song it slows almost to a stop, as if to allow appreciation of the juggernaut that is rolling over the listener.

There are quiet moments too, like on Failure of Light, one of my favorites on the album. This one starts in with softly chiming guitar and the bass humming almost imperceptably in the background until it starts the rhythm, making for a much more peaceful track, at least for a couple minutes until the heavy guitar kicks in, but this is still much more melodic than the abrasive noise of the previous track. As the guitar riffs lumber their way back and forth, occasionally squealing with feedback, there are nonetheless recognizable tunes coming out, and this track is much more like doom than drone -- about thirteen minutes worth. Beneath the Earth is similar, starting quietly and slowly, and not turning loud and distorted until about halfway through the track, while The Bridge is even more understated at first, beginning with a spacey humming in the background with drums slowly increasing in volume and some clean guitar picking until the clean riff gives way to the same one, this time distorted. Even then, the distortion is tighter than the other tracks with less background noise at first, but it gets noisier and noisier as the song continues, ending with a long, stretched-out solo.

The one that tired me out was the title track, on the second disk. This is a 40-minute track with very little happening on it but a warm, pulsing background noise and some minimalist guitar feedback, drumbeats every so often, getting louder very slowly, then quieting back down. The general impression left with me is a sound similar to listening to the background noises of one of the Port of Portland's docking terminals at night, from a couple of miles away, for that length of time. One can hear such a thing in an intro for a while, or even a ten-minute piece, but 40 minutes for such a thing is rather excessive for all but hardcore drone enthusiasts...or maybe someone who wants to go to sleep or be woken up slowly by music.

The Earth Wants Us Dead is a good effort, though the last track wasn't to my liking. When Sea of Bones succeeds on this album, it is usually when they unite their skills at noisemaking with some melody rather than drifting off into the realm of ambience.

Killing Songs :
Failure of Light, The Bridge
Andy quoted 77 / 100
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