Album review: Wallowing – Earth Reaper

Brighton sludgecore collective Wallowing drag us into the maelstrom on planet-pulverising second album Earth Reaper…

Album review: Wallowing – Earth Reaper
Sam Law

Wallowing can be a difficult band to get your head around. That murky moniker evokes perfectly the thick, sprawling sludginess of the Brighton collective’s sound, but feels at odds with imagery that’s more interested in the suffocating, endless antigravity of outer space. The trademark beekeeper overalls they sport by in the live arena, meanwhile, could fool casual observers into thinking there’s something frivolous or gimmicky about their brand of sci-fi-inflected extreme metal – which is galactically wide of the mark.

Seismic second album Earth Reaper narrows focus on what really matters. Doubling down on the doomy heft, blackened severity and hardcore abrasion with which 2019 debut Planet Loss made us sit up and take notice, the uncompromising heaviosity is allowed to mercilessly ratchet up. Structurally, too, the pace of proceedings daringly distends like the flow of time around a black hole: the first five tracks flashing by like asteroids through the cosmos in a sub-13-minute barrage before the last two smash and smoulder with the force of colliding space-freighters across a climactic half-hour of crushing, shapeshifting chaos.

Pivotally, those pieces fit into a coherent whole. Fleeting intro A World Weeping burns like a fuse into the explosive FLESH AND STEEL, which in turn detonates the nightmarish CRIES OF ESTIMA by way of cosmic chain reaction. CYBORG ASPHYXIATION drifts from the wreckage in a blur of asphyxiated atmospherics and titanic tragedy. By the time the monumental title-track ploughs over the horizon, its conclusive odyssey through shimmering prog, juddering industrial, infernal black metal and shattered spoken word feels utterly earned.

Wallowing might be a band unwilling to compromise on their demands for effort and attention. Invest those, however, and you’ll be taken on a voyage deep into the cold, dark void.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Dragged Into Sunlight, Sea Bastard, Slabdragger

Earth Reaper is out now via Church Road

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