Earthling mix thrash, death, black metal, … pretty much everything on ‘Dark Path’

EarthlingWith the weekend nearly in our grasp and another work week taking its physical and mental toll on our bodies (I see that as a good thing, by the way), now is the time to give into some savagery, heathenry, and things that are no good for you but that you like anyway. Everyone go get a beer. I’ll wait.

On that note, it seems a good a time as any to discuss “Dark Path,” the first full-length from Virginia’s Earthling and yet another rock-solid entry from Forcefield Records, who have kept us plenty busy this year. This four-headed pack of thrashy, death-minded, black metal-swallowing crushers have a good thing going here, and you know shit’s about to hit the fan almost instantly when, just as opener “Dark Path” erupts, guitarist/vocalist Alan Fary howls, “We’re on a dark fucking path.” That’s your introduction to the group, basically, and it all goes to the wolves from there, with riffy madness, savage crushing, and ill intentions designed to get you maimed. We’ve had a lot of heady material on this site lately, so it’s nice to have a record where you can put it on, open your favorite bottle of brew, and forget about all the shit around for you for 32 minutes.

Earthling coverAs I’m sure you can ascertain from what we’ve said so far, there is a refreshing lack of elegance from this band. They’re not here to make pretty noises, develop mind-melting soundscapes, or become the next great thinkers in metal. That’s not to insinuate they’re not capable of those things, but they seem like they’d rather shred faces than wax philosophical. They remind me a bit of the earliest crop of thrash bands who wanted to be loud and heavy, play devastating riffs, and punch you in the head. That’s the type of heavier metal I fell in love with growing up, and I get a sense of that same thing with Earthling. It’s one of the initial reasons their music appealed to me.

As far as the band goes, we’ve already mentioned Fary, whose low-level growls and shrieks carry the way vocally. At time he gets a little bit lost in the fray, and he’s not the most dynamic singer in metal, but he also comes off as someone who would sound better in a live setting. Or it could just be the rawness of their sound. Nonetheless, he gets the job done. Joining him are guitarist Praveen Chhetri, bassist Jordan Brunk, and drummer Brently Hilliard, all men with gentlemanly, proper names who throw all that out the window once they plug in and get their buzzsaw moving toward you. They’re a rather formidable unit that, as noted, employ a lot of thrash, death, and black metal but also toss in some blues licks and Southern rock fury into their madness. It’s a good time.

We’ve already mentioned the title cut, but there’s more to it than Fary’s monstrous declaration at the start. The song heads down a raw, chugging black metal path, the vocals are growl-filled, and later in the track some cold atmospherics rise up. “Resent” blasts off immediately, with strong leads guitar lines, gruff vocals, and some thrashy goodness. “Losing Sight” is where the record begins to change a bit musically, and it reveals a band that could go the route of, say, Inter Arma, and add some ingenuity to its chaos. “Losing Sight” starts viciously and aggressively, but eventually it melts into a Rush-like progressive jam section, some Southern rock thunder opens up, and even the cowbell gets tapped as the cut draws to a close.

“Solider of the Fortunate” has its doom-filled moments and strong guitar work, and as it moves on its way, it revisits thrash and speed. “Wilderness Throne” is another ambitious entry, as it starts with its head nodded directly toward classic black metal, but then we’re suddenly going down Southern rock roads. Then everything changes again, and the band pulls out its early ’80s-style power metal chops and makes the track one that could inspire you to pick up a sword and dream about dark castles. “Pass Into the Beyond,” your closer, is practically at-the-altar Iron Maiden worship, with its dual guitar interplay, some riveting basslines that roll over like Steve Harris was channeled, and even some death and thrash folded into this exhilarating crusher. It’s really awesome how this record builds in intensity and emotion as the songs get knocked off one by one, and by the time it’s over, the band practically has grown before your eyes. And ears.

Earthling show a ton of promise, and there’s no telling which way they’ll go in the future because they show so many influences here. Any path—thrash, death, black metal, another angle?—would suffice, and it’s cool how they mix in some different styles of rock and roll into the music to keep things interesting. This is a band worth paying attention to right now, because they’re already a damaging crew and it can only get better from here. “Dark Path” is a strong debut from a band you’re bound to hear a hell of a lot more about in the future.

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