Terra has been often compared to old Wolves in the Throne Room and Fell Voices; to those familiar with Agalloch, John Haughm’s band might be an even more immediate reference. No doubt, in fact, that these guys are influenced by a certain segment of North American black metal, inspired by grandiose natural scenarios, all dark forests, formidable canyons, mysterious glaciers, silent guardians of some kind of arcane, doomed wisdom that seems to ooze from the depths of Mother Earth itself.
Nonetheless, the Cascadian frenzy did not take total control over Terra’s music, which maintains a more aggressive approach and a more clear-cut, less atmospheric instrumental sound, that makes you easily link them to Agalloch in their Marrow of the Spirit era.
Oppressing yet awe-inspiring ambiances find celebration in the monicker of the band, which is the Latin and modern Italian word for ‘Earth’. But there is plenty of space for fine shades of doom that somehow project Terra’s music outside terrestrial boundaries in full outer space.
Masterfully highlighted bass lines immediately turn out to be the real treat, something you’re not likely to hear often from a traditional atmospheric black metal act: fat, juicy, rumbling, they perfectly counterpoint a brilliant drumming and a pouring of melodic riffs. The scheme in “I” is a fairly predictable crescendo that progressively builds a perfectly layered wall of sound, but it never sounds plastic-fake or repetitive, there is no hint of mechanic here.
“II” takes off tighter, launching in a genial Primordial-like guitar show-off towards the middle of the song and then gliding towards more serene skies in its laid-back but emotional final.
“III” resents a bit from the resemblance to the previous, almost perfect episodes, though the upbeat, beautiful bass lines keep it well away from monotony.
The overall impression is that the band didn’t think much about these tracks, they sound like a particularly successful improvisation, truly heartfelt and indeed supported by good skills but still in need of chiseling. The missing title and lyrics corroborate the general view, but Terra is most certainly an amazingly talented lot creating music from another world. A more pondered and reasoned effort could develop into something really wonderful.
Released in February 2015 through Hibernacula Records. The digital album can be listened to and purchased here.
Ryan Saunders: guitars, vocals
Olly Walton: bass, vocals
Luke Braddick: drums
Text by Arianna