Downfall of Gaia expose more spacious, crushing tendencies with ‘Ethic of Radical Finitude’

We’re all headed toward some sort of destination from the start of our lives until the end. A lot of us make big plans for ourselves, lofty hopes for our futures, and many of us work tirelessly to get to those goals. However, no matter how much we put in, it doesn’t always work the way we hope, and sometimes we have to face the fact that we won’t succeed no matter how hard we try.

For their fifth record “Ethic of Radical Finitude,” Downfall of Gaia examine those journeys and our hope that one day we can find a safe place we can call our own, which isn’t something everyone is able to accomplish. While not a concept record, this album from the ambitious German sludge/crust/atmospheric metal band does have that theme running through it, even if the whole thing isn’t a complete story. The band—vocalist/guitarist Dominik Goncalves dos Reis, bassist/vocalist Anton Lisovoj, guitarist/vocalist Marco Mazzola, drummer Michael Kadnar—also continues to push their sound while still reaching back to their roots that they planted more than a decade ago. This record sounds massive and huge as well, as the band is joined by guests who help color in the corners and even bring dreamy ambiance, helping make this the band’s most fully realized record.

“Seduced By…” is a quick instrumental opener that lets sounds rise, synth swirl in the cosmos, and then everything blasts into “The Grotesque Illusion of Being” that starts in gazey black metal murk. The track is both elegant and spacious as savage cries crush, a sense of desperation is in the air, and later the heat cools off while steam rises. The track reopens again later, storming and bringing chaos before everything comes to an end. “We Pursue the Serpent of Time” has drums cascading before the song tears open, with raspy growls scraping. Nikita Kamprad from Der Weg Einer Freiheit adds vocals to the track, adding depth to what’s a push and pull of sounds and emotions as the track develops. The music bleeds and gushes, with the emotions running over, a foggy passion landing, and keys dripping as the song ends in a mysterious fog.

“Guided Through a Starless Night” gets off to a clean start before the limbs are torn apart and the riffs begin to muscle up. Raspy growls arrive with the smothering riffs, as sound waves spread, and the track quakes the earth to its core. Just then, a dreamier section rises and takes over, while Mers Sumida of Black Table reads a lengthy a lengthy poetic section over the end, talking of “graves full of bones that do not make a sound,” and fully ruminating in death before the song bleeds away. “As Our Bones Break to the Dance” is thunderous immediately with a furnace blast and scathing screams driving through bones. The leads rips through like a blade, chugging and thrashing heavily, conjuring black metal spirits, and coming to a fiery end. Closer “Of Withering Violet Leaves” feels moody and shadowy as it begins before punches are thrown and melodies bathe in acid. Roared vocals lead the way, though bellowing clean singing follows that, giving off a mountainous vibe before the track corrodes for good.

After many years and five records together, Downfall of Gaia remain one of the more ambitious bands in metal, with “Ethic of Radical Finitude” standing as their strongest evidence yet. Like many of us, the band has been on their musical journey to find where they truly belong in the hierarchy, and with each passing album, they get closer to that goal. They haven’t met their ultimate destination yet, but with each new collection from the band, they climb ever closer.

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