Marrow Of Earth - Lethe

The following is a grand understatement: heavy metal is an extremely polarizing genre of music. Its millions of fans, united in their love of loud guitars, black clothing, and grim imagery are simultaneously divided by sub-genre lines. These black metal fans over here hate grindcore, and those power metal fans over there can't get into death metal. Denim-clad thrashers stand around bored to tears when deathcore bands take the stage, and vice versa. Metal fans are a finicky bunch, but Marrow of Earth may have tapped into a style that can please most of them. It is impossible to please them all, so even getting remotely close to accomplishing such a feat is worthy of praise.

The second Marrow of Earth e.p. starts with the title track, “Lethe” which begins with a somber, yet melodic clean guitar riff, and bluesy lead runs. I found myself thinking about my initial forays into the metallic arts, and the first albums I purchased. It seems that in recent years, these kind of intros that slowly transform from a sort of melodic rock to full-on metal assault are somewhat of a lost art. Many of today's metal bands are content with a fast/slow dynamic that never relents in its brutality, switching from blastbeats to breakdowns with little interesting content in between. Marrow of Earth have stepped up their songwriting approach even further this time around, and bring a whole lot more to the table than your average metal band.

This is a band that not only seamlessly transitions from more traditional, ear-wormy riffs to ferocious black metal din, but makes you wonder why more bands can't pull off such an effective blending of sub-genres. Indeed, one may be vaguely reminded of Iron Maiden, and Dismember in the same song, but all these delicious riffs swirl together flawlessly, and without even a hint of being forced. “Amongst the Worms” starts with a more straight-forward, infectious, head-banging riff before dispensing tasty lead guitar lines, and transforming into a wave of blastbeats, and tremolo picking. Thrash, and black metal are combined here without sounding even a little like typical “blackened thrash”, this is a whole new beast. A beast that lunges for your throat with such skill that you find yourself in awe before being ripped apart.

This e.p. is a guitarist's wet dream, with no shortage of shred, but at no point does it come off as self-indulgent. Everything here fits in its place perfectly, especially their new vocalist who barks, growls, and screams bloody murder to great effect. Undoubtedly, your typical hard rock fan (who thinks they're into heavy metal) would likely find this music a little too “extreme” for their radio-molded tastes, but for the rest of us, “Lethe” is a real winner. Excellent musicianship all around, and you'd be hard-pressed to find another band this brutally-heavy that also features a clear understanding of how to write a memorable song. I found myself playing this roughly twenty minute e.p. over, and over without even the slightest desire to skip ahead; pressing “stop” only when it was absolutely necessary for the health of my eardrums. I do not care if my neighbors enjoyed this e.p., but I heard no complaints.

The nearly seven minute closer, “Inhumanitarian” has more catchy riffs in it than some bands feature on an entire album. If Marrow of Earth doesn't keep your attention with their intensity, they will surely sell you on their excellence with their grasp of dynamics. No chugga-chug breakdowns, just a roller coaster ride of top-notch metal riffing. I found listening to “Lethe” to be like rediscovering my love of heavy metal all over again. Guitar riffs that you will wind up humming at some point in your day, and solos that would make the most uptight rock fan want to stand on a table, and play air guitar. Not to mention a flawless rhythm section featuring drumming that is as technically proficient as it is tasteful. This is how heavy metal should be done, with blatant disregard for genre lines, and a ridiculously tuneful approach to wreaking sonic havoc.

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