Metal born at the crossroads where eclecticism and schizophrenia meet.
Greg Moffitt 2010-07-07
Released to tie in with earthtone9’s recent reformation, this comprehensive best of is a reminder that the Nottingham alternative metal crew missed one of the longest gravy trains in recent rock history. Except perhaps for the band themselves, no-one reasonably expected them to conquer the world, but they could have exploited the ephemeral nu-metal boom which made a lot of very average late 90s bands very successful indeed. Whilst not a perfect fit, their blend of brutality and maudlin tunefulness should have been an easy sell to disaffected teens weaned on the likes of Korn, Coal Chamber and Linkin Park.
Originally active between 1998 and 2002, earthtone9 rejected the clichés of traditional heavy metal, capturing something of the zeitgeist in the process. Alternative metal, nu-metal, call it what you will; it basically translates as metal minus the ridiculous affectations. Big hair, big trousers, big everything was jettisoned in favour of an attack which had more in common with hardcore. Spurred on by the iconoclasm of grunge, metal-hating metal was the way to go for a while. Apparently nobody foresaw the day when this whirlwind of self loathing would blow itself out.
Inside, Embers Glow..., then, is the sound of its time, gravel-spitting aggression and downbeat melodies vying for supremacy at the crossroads where eclecticism and schizophrenia meet. It’s nothing if not eclectic, maybe too eclectic, and too often they sound like they were hedging their bets. Overall, the mellower moments which bring to mind Alice in Chains or Tool work best. The bellowing bluster of the rest is a reminder of an unfortunate period when faceless tastemakers declared real metal dead.
Nu-metal in its various forms was largely an American phenomenon. In their original incarnation, earthtone9 failed to crack the American market, or indeed any market. Pundits are already emerging from the woodwork to tell us how “much missed” and “hugely influential” the band were. This version of reality seems at odds with four years of underachievement. Let’s see what they can do second time around.