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Woman is the Earth- Thaw

South Dakota’s Woman is the Earth has carved out a space for themselves in the increasingly crowded U.S. black metal space, having released four full lengths to date.  Where a lot of other groups have gone for similar atmospheric/Cascadian sounds that recall Wolves in the Throne Room, Woman is the Earth has occupied the space between traditional and atmospheric black metal.  Each album has utilized drastically differing production values, with the group’s last full length ‘Torch of Our Final Night’ going for a cleaner yet fuller sound that emphasized both the sweeping atmosphere and aggressive low end.  For their newest EP ‘Thaw’, the band has shifted gears again and written three songs that are their harshest and most aggressive to date.  Though there is still plenty of the shimmering atmospherics and mesmerizing melodies at work, the attacking nature gives the group a much different tone than before.

…opener Golden Fog launches right into aggressive tonality that is dominated by the low end

Compared to some of its predecessors, ‘Thaw’ is much more direct in how it attacks listeners.  Woman is the Earth has previously moved between slow build-ups and brute force, but after a very brief intro opener Golden Fog launches right into aggressive tonality that is dominated by the low end.  One of the biggest differences is how dominant the drums are, as the snare and bass drum in particular come through with the same type of force and clarity that one might expect from a death metal album.  It’s a pretty significant change for a group that’s been given the atmospheric tag for much of their career, and a perfect demonstration that these guys can deliver the same type of overwhelming attack as some of the best of them.  ‘Thaw’ doesn’t just run with this harsh low-end and call it a day though, as you’ll find sweeping melodies still seep into each of the songs.  But rather than offering a warm and inviting sound, these melodies remind me of depressive black metal in how they pierce through you like barbed wire.  My only complaint is that the underlying structures of these songs come off feeling a bit too similar, with the exception being the stunning closer Dream Collapse.  Even with that being said I’ve gotten a considerable amount of this EP, and the clarity of the recording makes it easier to pick out the nuances of each track.

Woman is the Earth

The vocals are one of the elements of ‘Thaw’ that stands out the most, as the screams tower over the recording without taking away from the instrumentals.  Woman is the Earth’s vocalist has screams that are as harsh and biting as they come, and they move across the high and low spectrums in a way that makes each attack feel as vicious as the last.  Given that the this EP has an even uglier and unsettling feel compared to the band’s previous work, it’s appropriate that the vocals are able to reach a similar level and they constantly feel like they’re trying to tear you to pieces.  Considering that much of the group’s previous discography has buried the screams to an extent, I like this direct approach as it suits the type of black metal they’ve channeled on this release.

Woman is the Earth has continued to transform with each effort, and this is once again the case on ‘Thaw’.  This is some of their most aggressive material to date, and while the first two songs bare some similarities it still has plenty of substance to keep listeners coming back.  Hopefully there’s more to come from this band when it comes to this type of black metal, as there seems to be room for them to further merge the warm atmospheres of their past albums with the discomfort and dread of ‘Thaw’.

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Chris Dahlberg Owner of, avid metal head, video game, and anime fan. The noisier and harsher the metal is, the more I like it!