If you only hunt down one Doom Metal album this year, make it Earthless. Holy fuck! This record is excellent. For those unfamiliar with this oddly-monikered act (if memory serves, it’s pronounced “doomus,” with a trve kvlt “v” instead of a “u,” just don’t ask me about that colon or the random capitalization), it’s the side solo job of Draconian guitarist/main songwriter Johan Ericson. As big a fan I am of Draconian, trust me when I say Johan saves his slowest, heaviest riffs and saddest, deepest melodies for Doom:VS (see Bill Steer, Carcass). I thought the project had been eternally put on ice given the 6-year absence since 2008’s Dead Words Speak, so it was a pleasant surprise just to see this one in print. Then to actually hear it… god damn! As much as I enjoyed its aforementioned predecessor, Earthless towers over it significantly. It’s just one of those instantly gratifying records that grabs you immediately and refuses to let go. Slow music, but by no means a slow-burner, Earthless is utter fucking Doomgasm from beginning to end. It’s like scratching a mosquito bite for 50 minutes, as a tag-team of crushing riffs and mournful melodies continually shovels dirt on hope’s rotting bloated carcass. Catchy, depressing, beautiful — in my heart, this is what Doom Metal is to me. But let’s talk about what really takes this beast next-level. The vocals. Whereas Ericson manned the mic exclusively on Dead Words Speak, this time he has enlisted the talents of Saturnus frontman Thomas Jensen to handle all harsh vocal duties. And my oh my, handle them he does. If you’re even half the fan of this man’s voice as I am (check out Saturnus’ “Starres” to hear the best Doom chorus ever: “FOR ME!!! FOREVER!!! FOR US!!!”), you’re in for a treat. You get more of his deep growl here than on the last couple Saturnus records combined. Ericson —a fine vocalist in his own right— still contributes some clean vocals —the shakiness of which, at times, being all that keeps this LP from total perfection— but by sharing some of the grimelight, he has taken Doom:VS from worthwhile to otherworldly. His morose musical mastery and Jensen’s trademark powerful roar/poetic spoken bits are a match made in purgatory. For those who wish that both Draconian and Saturnus were just a little bit heavier and perhaps a little less Gothic, Earthless is your Doom come true.
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