If you look Earthship up on the net you will find that an Earthship is a type of ‘passive solar house’. Earthship the band, however, are neither passive or particularly driven by the sun. Hence opening track ‘Old Widows Gloom’ – no spooky intro, just straight into super-aggressive doom with slightly trippy backing vocals adding colour.
The net will also tell you that there is a jazz funk band with the same moniker. It’s one type of music Berlin’s Earthship are certainly not. However, they are masters of a lot of other styles of rock and metal. ‘Athena’ has clean guitars but then the dirty death growls of Jan Oberg and acid fried backing vocals by his wife, bassist Sabine. There is no heads down down-tuned thrash, instead there are many heavy layers of shifting texture and pace. Sabine Oberg’s witchy vocals are the one constant stand out through out. ‘Boundless Void’ has a space rock opening then moves into real stoner cosmic head-trip territory. The influences flow into one another almost constantly, shifting, seething. The restless nature of songs makes it hard to pin the songs down. It’s impossible to pigeon-hole Earthship, no bad thing of course, but sometimes it means the songs have no easily graspable identity. Title track ‘Iron Chest’ starts out like old school death metal then slows evolves to take in a clean, surgical post metal riff.
When it occasionally locks into a headbanging groove, it is welcome, but you know you it can’t and wont settle into a comforting standard rock-out for long. ‘Silver Decay’ is more space rock mixed with death – death in space, anyone? It’s a new one on me anyway! ‘Eyes In The Night’ is a kind of quick supernatural trick or treat where you think
The last two tracks seem to clarify Earthships’ direction slightly: ‘Shattered’ is chilly acid-fried doom, like Australia’s Adrift For Days, it has less stylistic leaps and so is more easily digestible. Closer ‘Tear Trail’ is similar to ‘Shattered’ but lacks the drama of Adrift For Days because there is little time for tension to mount. This is intelligent, experimental music by very accomplished musicians with a jazz like approach to form and themes. It is something I think fans of Baroness and Mastodon would enjoy. I certainly enjoy it whilst it’s playing, but “Iron Chest” struggles to worm it’s way into my subconscious.