In Resonance Nexus

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Polyphony Of Animals
02. Navison Record
03. Under The Snake
04. Oceanic Drift
05. Black Swan Roulette
06. Lash Of The Tongues
07. Etiquette of Distortion
08. Observe Your Course
09. Third Mutuality
10. Strength Is My Weakness

Originally active for five years, beginning in the late '90s, EARTHTONE9 should have been massive. Leading lights of a UK underground that never really got to grips with a flourishing nu-metal scene, they garnered reams of frothing critical acclaim and should have been snapped up by a big label and thrust toward stardom. In particular, the band's third album "Arc'tan'gent" (2000) was (and hopefully is) regarded as one of the great British metal records of that era.

More by chance than design, EARTHTONE9 are one of the few bands that genuinely warrant use of the usually meaningless "alternative metal" tag. Brutally heavy but profoundly melodic, their blend of everything from hardcore and melo-death to grunge and noise rock is ferociously smart and, most importantly, aggressively accessible, with powerhouse vocalist Karl Middleton providing the emotional glue that binds it all together. Over a decade on from their last release, EARTHTONE9 have reason to feel that now is the time for their music to really hit its target. "In Resonance Nexus" arrived to some degree of surprise and delight, and that excitement turns out to be wholly justified. Still sounding utterly unique, but with songs that can hardly fail to chime with today's heavy music audience, the Brits have returned with the clear intention of showing people how this stuff should be done.

"In Resonance Nexus" is built to slap the listener around from the start. EARTHTONE9 always had a gift for huge, soaring choruses, but the first few songs here are ludicrously catchy, while also being extremely hard hitting. "The Polyphony Of Animals" and "Navison Record" are both fine examples of this band's idiosyncratic charm. The riffs are uniformly great, and veer between mosh-friendly hardcore, darkly melodic groove metal and brooding, fidgety grunge; meanwhile, Middleton's voice remains a thing of gritty wonder, as he slams home each euphoric refrain with great skill and even greater soul. On "Third Mutuality", EARTHTONE9 conjure a new and nuanced take on stadium alt-rock, with post-rock echoes and more pulverizing riffs underpinning Middleton's impassioned vocal. On the savage, driving "Etiquette of Distortion", they blur the lines between shiny modern metal and left-field brutality.

Although it is dominated by short, punchy songs, "In Resonance Nexus" concludes with a song that highlights EARTHTONE9's more experimental urges. "Strength Is My Weakness" is a big, burly metal song with a giant core hook that slowly morphs into a grinding, doomed-out riff assault with chug levels that are defiantly old school, and trippy, KING'S X-like vocal harmonies that swirl amid a churning maelstrom of guitars. As the concluding moment on an album that screams this band's greatness from the rooftops, it is just about perfect.

Author: Dom Lawson
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