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PLANET EATER Blackness From The Stars

By Nathan Dufour, Great White North
Monday, July 24, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

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Blackness From The Stars

Self Released, 2017

Local bands are a difficult review prospect. For one, your favourite band was, at some point in their career, a local and played to half full rooms for beer tickets - that is a reality. Within every scene there are bands that stand out made up of your friends and sometimes their artistic vision is not to your taste, but you support anyways because that is what friends do. Perhaps the most daunting reasoning, though, is that you have heard these songs so much live that somehow there is a fear (real or imagined) that having a properly recorded and mixed version may detract somehow from the quality of the music or your ethereal attachment to it. Local bands like PLANET EATER, who hail from my home town on the frozen tundra of central Canada, don’t have to worry about the difficulties mentioned above.

After the successful release of an EP in 2015, 2017 sees PLANET EATER ready to unleash their newest full length, Blackness From The Stars and their experience in the studio as well as a highly tuned razor sharp live act bleeds from the speakers like a papercut on your fingertip - it just keeps going. These men have played together in a few bands through the years and with each new iteration they somehow manage to find a new voice and a new tone with which to wreak their unholy havoc.

Tone makes bands. Whether that been in visual aesthetic, guitar tone (remember that tin can sound from the 90s in Black Metal? It mattered, because you do), recording style, or even something like merchandise, tone or underlying meaning is what connects people to art. Tone, in a broad sense, conveys authenticity. PLANET EATER have a tone that makes them stand out and it is in the guitars. I have no idea how an amplifier works but I am fairly convinced there is some sort of conjure involved in dialing in that tone for axemen Luc Hart and Devin Ubell.

Check out first track and lead single “The Boats”. Within the first 20 seconds a swinging, almost blues inspired riff wraps itself around your head, and then it comes back heavier (and slower) when the full band kicks in. Around that same time, vocalist Donovan Turner makes his presence known with a full throated straight from the guts of hell bellow, immediately calling these proceedings to order. Subtle strums and an unrelenting drum performance permeate the track, then at about the halfway part when the listener is nicely lulled into the main riff of the song, a divebomb bend smacks you over the head with a tasteful lead guitar twinning and finishes off with gang vocals as the song finishes off. I’m already tired. The song is about torture, look it up, and understand why the word “honey” has not heretofore sounded so menacing.

Continuing on, PLANET EATER let their thrash flow with follow up track “Pile Of Bones”, with skinman Nick Eichorst letting his feet fly all over the punishing double kicks that will stay stuck in your head for weeks, let alone his inventive use of color and timbre to communicate. The guy hits hard. I don’t know if there is a connection, but for the sake of general interest, PILE OF BONES is the original name for the city the band is from, Regina. Go ahead, make the joke…

There is not a lot of flashy in the PLANET EATER sound, moreso a bulldozing behemoth bringing bodacious riffs to anyone who wants to hear them. Case in point is the track “Lies Evolution” with an elephant sized groove courtesy of Hart, comes stomping through the China shop of your inner ear totally bent on making its new home on the tip of your tongue when discussing some of the tastiest riffs of this year. PLANET EATER make metal in the pure and old school tradition.

As the album advances to its mid-point, bassist Troy Bleich makes himself apparent through well placed bottom end heft and careful consideration for just where the bass should be to add to the overall composition of the song, not in an overpowering way but in the calm and measured manner of a man with a wealth of experience (Bleich also plays bass in INTO ETERNITY who are another hometown band you may have heard of) and, when appropriate, restraint. It is during these times of restraint that Bleich provides backup vocals but also when the listener can fully appreciate the full scope of the PLANET EATER sound - again not very flashy but very bright. PLANET EATER maintain a sense of danger while playing within their pocket. They made it themselves.

“Kill On Sight” is an original composition and also a clear nod to now defunct THE ALMIGHTY PUNCHDRUNK. After listening to this song, please go buy their album. “A Fault To Fix” follows, once again highlighting a lockstep groove and double kicks and Turner’s inimitable vocals. Peppered into the mix are some nicely placed guitar taps that would not be out of place on a MESHUGGAH record, and that is no exaggeration nor is it hyperbole. The main riff here literally sound like a swirling eddy looks, abysmal and abyssal while ultimately punishing and enlightening at once. As the end of the album nears, things get weird.

“The Spoil” kicks in with an understated drum noodle session that sees Eichorst stretching out slightly, an almost jazz feeling accompanying his playing as he starts off the track unaccompanied. In my head, I imagine that as Bleich wrote his part for this song, he was winking and trying to seduce an entire room because when his bass comes in to marry with the drums, the lick is so smooth it would cool you in the summer heat while making you hot and bothered. It is that good. Cue Hart and Ubell, weaving another riff straight out of the playbook of the earworm, with a cadence that repeats itself until approximately forever, slightly changing gears to wash the listener in bright yet dissonant open chords and a progressive feel in vocals and instrumentation - think GOJIRA but make them muddier and add a dash of NEUROSIS style heft. You’re close.

Tying everything together is the title track, “Blackness From The Stars”, which I think is about a cataclysmic cleansing of everything. Or Galactus. On their first proper full length, PLANET EATER prove themselves contenders not only in the local scene, but have created a product that is worthy of international listenership and their recent press coverage only underscores that fact. In a metalsphere that is at once minutia and not, PLANET EATER are poised to rise. Oh, and check out their awesome marketing, you’ll be glad you did.

4.0 Out Of 5.0

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