Album review: earthtone9 – In Resonance Nexus

Legendary English alt. metallers earthtone9 smash back to the surface with long-awaited fifth album, In Resonance Nexus.

Album review: earthtone9 – In Resonance Nexus
Sam Law

ArcTanGent festival organiser James Scarlett was asked during a live Q&A at last summer’s edition what the chances were of getting a 2024 performance from the legendary earthtone9, after whose seminal 2000 LP arc'tan'gent his event is named.

“To the best of my knowledge,” he shrugged to a disappointed audience, “those guys aren’t ‘a band’ right now.” What an excellent surprise, then, to find out months later that they aren’t just up and running for more festival shows, but they’re also adding a fantastic fifth album to their revered discography, In Resonance Nexus.

“For me, this, this album is about persistence in heart and knowing that you can pursue stuff and do it to a high standard at any point in time,” explains frontman Karl Middleton. “It’s more vital and urgent – like the absolute distillation of what we do. This feels like a definitive statement.”

Indeed, even 11 years down the line from 2013’s ‘IV’ – 22 from the band’s original dissolution – its 10 tracks continue and build upon the urgency and defiance that made et9 such a definitive outfit a quarter-century ago.

Raging opener The Polyphony Of Animal harks back to their original restlessness while packing a modernity that could easily mix it with Bury Tomorrow or While She Sleeps. Navison Record wraps moments of mind-mangling mathcore round its enormously hooky riffs, while Under The Snake toys with Eastern-sounding acoustic strings before hitting full-throttle, and massive lead-single Oceanic Drift hits with a wave of elemental fury.

It’s the overload of ideas and self-confidence in the record’s second half that really intrigues. Etiquette Of Distortion is an angular tangle topped-off with a ton of craggy theatricality. Observe Your Course comes with a cameo from author, comedian and co-star on BBC Two’s The Ranganation Malli ‘Metalhead’ Malpass. Third Mutuality offers a little respite with its ode to ‘reciprocity and love’ drifting through passages of airy ambience and thunderous bursts of white-knuckle punch.

Tellingly, hulking final track Strength Is My Weakness comes with enough weight and self-reflection to make it a fitting final statement were this to be the point earthtone9 finally call it a day. Equally though, it could mark a tantalising new dawn for one of British metal’s most essential, endlessly compelling bands.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Conjurer, Tool, Strapping Young Lad

In Resonance Nexus is released on June 21 via Candlelight

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