Those guys from The Ocean are awfully busy, seemingly going through a myriad of bands and not letting up whichever side of the production desk they’re on. Though no longer featuring The Ocean’s Robin Staps on rhythm guitar, Earthship still make a heavy racket as a three-piece, doing so for the first time on ‘Iron Chest’, the follow-up to 2011’s keenly received ‘Exit Eden’. Former The Ocean drummer Jan Oberg, handling guitar and vocals, again leads his charges, the line-up now completed again with Dennis Boettcher, and Jan’s wife, Sabine, on bass.
‘Iron Chest’ plunders three punchy tracks possessing plenty of bounce and melodicism, before the post-sludge of ‘Boundless Void’ turns up, eventually erupting after a submerging into a gloomy riff, plowing back with another crunching riff to reinject the aggression into their sound. Aside from that track and ‘Shattered’, ‘Iron Chest’ follows a fairly safe pattern that won’t thrill too many hoping for them to dip their feet in the water a bit. That said, Earthship know how to crank out some whiplash-inducing riffs (‘Silver Decay’, the title track in particular)
Earthship – Athena
Earthship’s sound is recommended for fans of Iron Monkey among other acts – I didn’t initially see the resemblance but their tendency to rock out while they attack is akin to the Geordie legends, though nowhere near as vicious. Though not as prominent as before, the progressive and occasional technical flair do glimmer through the largely straight ahead approach. ‘Iron Chest’ isn’t the most spectacular album you’ll hear a, but it’s a quality romp through ten tracks of modern day headbanging sludge metal retaining its own identity (as opposed to the NOLA-inspired sound that so many converge upon). Sludge can so often be all about misery and woe – Earthship’s message is far more exploratory, seemingly based on the nautical – a different approach certainly, but a more refreshing one for that.
That alone ought to boost the Germans’ profile a little more – by now they really ought to be better known than just another Ocean side-project. Its too early to tell whether time will change that, but ‘Iron Chest’ is perfect for letting off some steam and a welcome, if not necessarily upwards, return from the trio.
‘Iron Chest’ is released on Monday October 15th. Pre-order it here