Railing against God and religion is nothing new in our precious little realm of heavy metal. Plenty of anti-god and pro-Satan rhetoric has abounded for generations both intentional and unintentional. While the cover art may not bare its image, the religious symbol that best represents Heaving Earth’s third album Darkness Of God is the snake. That pesky serpent lying in wait to bring you down can exist in so many forms and assault in so many ways; so can Heaving Earth.
There’s a riff passage in opener “Violent Gospels (Ordination of the Holy Trinity)” where the notes start to sprint like they heard a starting gun only to realize they jumped too early and abruptly stop. But because that riff jumped the second guitar starts to briefly follow that melody and cuts short even faster offering a ghost of the full form. It’s like the first guitar is the snake doing its mating dance the second is a competitor sitting in the grass waiting for the perfect time to land an extra strike and take the other one out. These guitars dance together while battling one another along the way. Eventually, the striker knows it has lost and relegates itself to rhythm work while the full mating routine gets to unfurl in the form of a blistering lead.
“Crossing The Great Divide (Prayer to a Crumbling Shrine)” perfectly encapsulates what Heaving Earth does best. The clean echoing notes that open the track are not simply a throwaway atmospheric break to let you catch your breath, but become an element that regularly gets layered into the chaos of the rest of the song. A simple sense of hook that keeps you latched on and wanting to unhinge your jaw to swallow the full six minutes. Every moment of reprieve is hit with notes that bend, slice or create a rumbling sense of landscape collapse when things slow down. There’s a passage where the vocals are flying from ear to ear with rolling rhythms behind them and then and then this whirling riff comes slowly bleeding into the mix to dominate the song and once again brings those clean notes with it.
Being able to create this type of flowing music within the context of technical chaos is an incredible feat, but being able to properly capture it is as well. Andrea Petucco deserves a huge amount of credit for how well-balanced Darkness Of God is as well as how much more interesting the songs become based on how he mixed the album. At any moment a riff could slice through the middle and then briefly bend out to your left and pop back in again. Melodies can sit nuzzled in the back of rhythms or come blazing out of nowhere like a volcanic eruption. Notes bubble, shift, slither, pop and writhe all over this record.
Those arpeggiated and tremolo melodies that Petucco has mixed so well in every song act as a thematic tie throughout the album. Like a good anthology, each song has its own story but those repeated phrases and elements that fire off in every song contribute to a larger tale. That’s not to say that Heaving Earth is a one-trick snake charmer. They can kill with a quick-hit poison that takes you out in three minutes with “Forever Deceiving Dismal Gods” just as easily as they can slowly constrict the life out of you with a seven-minute beast-like “The Lord’s Lamentations,” which has an absolutely diabolical opening by the way.
There are glimmers of influence from other bands that pop up throughout. The opening track has a crushing start-stop assault right out of the Origin playbook and “Crossing The Great Divide (Prayer to a Crumbling Shrine)” will make satiate the unfed appetites of Ingurgitating Oblivion fans. The fingerprints of Immolation can be seen throughout but perhaps no more strongly than on closer “Flesh-Ridden Providence” in which the guitars are spitting a drunken take on Vigna riffing that slurs a litany of musical heresy at Dolan’s most hated enemy in the heavens.
Tech death comes in many forms, but for those tired of the overly polished and triggered-to-hell million-note masturbation takes, Heaving Earth has one hell of an album in the form of Darkness Of God to convince you this genre is still in peak form.