The amount of atmospheric black metal bands that have come our way in just the past decade is all but staggering with the actual number of them surely in the tens of thousands given how popular they are. That’s not even mentioning how absurdly obscure a great majority of those bands are, but some bands manage to rise above the rest. There are some truly elite bands that never disappoint whenever they put out material for the style, and it’s Earth and Pillars that are easily one of the best examples. Sometimes it feels they get snubbed to, instead, be overshadowed by bands like Mesarthim, but Earth and Pillars are not to be underestimated or ignored for even a second, and it’s their new album that shows off that more than anything before it.
It’s been a couple of months since I’ve moved to the very beautiful land of West Virginia where nature has a truly gorgeous look more so than in many other places I’ve been to. This time of year, the air is almost always crisp, the leaves are turning all sorts of colors, and the mountains loom with a glorious patchwork of colors that can be just stunning. The realm of atmospheric black metal has long incorporated nature into its material, and its Earth and Pillars who I feel have done the best job at doing so. I started listening to this record and had to stop because I knew I had to be in nature in order to experience it properly, not in my computer room typing as I listen. I had never felt compelled to immerse myself in such way for an album, but “Earth II” is something special. I went to the side of a nearby mountain to look over the trees and rivers to see the cars far off in the distance with only the wind and sound of leaves being my companion. I found a nice spot to look over it all and allowed Earth and Pillars to take me with an album I simply wasn’t ready for.
There are but four tracks that grace “Earth II”, but that isn’t surprising given the track record that Earth and Pillars have made for themselves at this point with their approach to the style is very much something that emphasizes the atmosphere in drawn-out tracks that know how to properly immerse you right from the beginning. This new effort is no effort and is, arguably, the best material this act has put out thus far. The whole of “Earth II” contains everything that has ever been essential to the style, and cranks the brilliance of the execution to the highest degree to provide us with an amazing experience that’s at peak for the style that cannot be underestimated. Whether it’s the rollercoaster of “Howling” or the sheer grandeur of “Ascending”, there isn’t something about this massive effort that Earth and Pillars doesn’t pull off with absolute mastery without a single ounce of hesitation. It’s all stupendously atmospheric, as well, which is only to be expected from this band but that doesn’t take away any part of grandeur that’s on a constant display throughout the entirety of “Earth II” to show us that this band continues to be staggering even in their humblest of moments. It’s a wonder that never once gets old, and if this band can continue to provide material like this for as long as they’re around then they’re an act that we will never tire of.
Without a doubt, this work is the peak of the style for this year. For me, it is, anyway. There isn’t a single ounce of what’s done here that I wouldn’t call damn near masterful, and I’m very happy that it’s with Earth and Pillars that we’ve gotten this tremendously awesome effort that should not be ignored. Anyone who can even consider calling themselves a fan of the style will have to be damned should they not investigate “Earth II”, for it’s an effort that must be heard and is something that should be heralded as one of the great works of atmospheric black metal.
LISTEN to “Earth II” on Bandcamp here or via YouTube below.
LIKE Earth and Pillars on Facebook here.