As 2016 draws to a close, apocalyptic prophecies seem less and less far-fetched. Detroit's Hollow Earth have been writing dystopian, metallic hardcore polemics for the better part of the aughts, but began to make plans to leave their doomed terrestrial home planet earlier this year. Following the narrative of the Parting Remains EP, their debut album Dead Planet tells the fantastical story of an abject out-migration of humanity attempting to latch on to another hospitable environment.
The band reflect this sci-fi angle through their slow-motion, otherworldly sludge jams. They delicately toe the line between Neurosis' psychedelic mantras and Dangers' incisive diatribes on the absurd modern condition. Their songs use deep, mid-tempo rhythmic foundations to set the scenery for stellar trails of reverbed guitar arpeggios. "The Harbinger of Existence" makes use of deep, down-tuned guitar accompaniment that almost strays into "djent" territory, while "Convergence in Recollection" sculpts an intricate space-scape out of dense slabs of rhythmic interplay and shoegaze production effects.
Steve Mucynski's vocals are mixed aggressively, placed in a dry foreground that refuses to compromise the influence of the past decade's metalcore ubiquity. The band's relentless tone is imposing at times, even on early cuts that take some time to establish themselves, like "Setting Teeth" or "Revolutions in Refracted Light."
There is a very specific aesthetic at play here that could prove divisive even amongst metal fans, depending on how they feel about atmosphere and space. Dead Planet is an assertive, affective take on the future of Earth as we know it. (Good Fight)