There’s something hideously majestic about Let The Earth Be Silent After Ye. Rather than blind, immature nihilism, Seeds In Barren Fields have their apocalyptic anti-civilization strand of crust/black metal inspired by something more thoughtful and profound. This is no rebellion for the sake of it, all corpse paint and hail Satan’s until the weekend is over. Instead, it feels like it’s the result of a long, hard look at the direction the planet is going in under the leash of human domination, and not at all liking what they see. Touching upon themes of alienation, religious tyranny, and impending environmental catastrophe, Let The Earth Be Silent After Ye isn’t so much an album title, as it is a statement of purpose.
Fittingly, the crust influence is from bands such as Catharsis and His Hero Is Gone – groups rightly revered not only for their politics, but for the way they pushed at the boundaries of what could be done in their genres. Similarly, when the band show their black metal fangs, it brings to mind the likes of Panopticon or Wolves In The Throne Room – bands with something more to say than most, who have challenged the conventions of what black metal can and can’t be.
As this may indicate, there’s a depth of influence and intelligence to the music on offer here. Opening track “A Gospel Of The Flesh” is over 12 minutes long, full of countless ideas and sounds that means it never feels bloated, holding the listener as the band rail against the way organised religion has separated humanity from the world around us. This leads in to the acoustic-led interlude of “Home”, an interpretation of the poem “I Have Chosen You, My Home” by Palestinian poet Yusuf Ali Fouda; the thematic link to the preceding subject matter should be obvious. It is a heart-breakingly gorgeous respite, heavy in emotion rather than sound, before “Internalize Deir Yassin” crashes in, breaking the calm with heavy guitars and vicious vocals. The sound is constantly shifting, keeping the listener off-balance, creating an aura of anxiety that the machine-gun drumming and panicked shouts only enhances. Lyrically, it builds upon the themes of “A Gospel Of The Flesh”, using the tale of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin to highlight how religion can be twisted to justify the most horrid of acts. The conclusion of the song is one of the most striking things I’ve heard in some time, blending progressive, intelligent music with a raw emotional blow to the guts.
There’s no let up or respite as Let The Earth… moves on. “Communion” is dark and brooding, a plea to remember that divinity and spirituality can be found outside of religion, with the back-up female vocals serving as a wonderful contrast to the violence in the music. Meanwhile, “Echoes Of A Forgotten Rhythm” paints a vivid, striking picture of everyday isolation and how routine cuts us off from ourselves (“Isolation, a lonely hell / The beast inside scared of itself”), with some very intense drumming and winding guitar lines, whilst “The Epitaph Of The Vain And The Forgotten” adds violin at points, the use of which only adds to the heaviness and strength of the song. It does threaten to become overwhelming as the song moves towards its end, but the gentle “Days Of Heaven” is a wonderful palette cleanser – until, that is, it descends in to an industrial hell (I’d hope the metaphor being expressed by the band here is obvious).
The title track follows, and much the like the opener, it’s a lengthy composition, full of both musical and lyrical ideas. Even a cursory glance at the lyrics and a listen to the song demonstrates that it’s the kind of track that needs to be this long, though, to do justice to the topics and sounds dealt with. And again, the duration works to the songs advantage, pulling the listener in and holding them close, even the harrowing, bleak-as-fuck closing lyrics (“Be infertile – and let the earth be silent after ye”) fade away and the song slips in to closer “Entropy”, an acoustic-led chance for reflection. Because that is something this album demands – reflection. As musically thrilling as it is – and make no mistake, it’s up there with the year’s best thus far – it’s the lyrics and overall atmosphere that really help elevate Let The Earth… above other records. There is no denying the nihilism, the absolute disgust that Seeds In Barren Fields manage to convey even during the instrumental sections, and it’s hard to imagine anyone listening to this record and not being forced to engage with it. You may not agree with all they say, but to release an album that demands a reaction, and haunts the listener for days afterwards? That is all too rare. Absolutely stunning.
Let The Earth Be Silent After Ye is available to stream and download via Bandcamp. A CD edition, limited to 100, is also set to be available for pre-order soon through Bandcamp.