Thirty minutes of being dragged through soil to end up drowning seems like a lovely way to spend any listening experience, and you know it. For the longest time, I felt inclined to bring up the lockdown from Covid in every single review I wrote. I think this was out of some sort of combination of both the self-pity that naturally stemmed from the time alone along with a vague sense of solidarity from knowing we were all experiencing the same thing.
It was those same dwellings, along with some riffage, members couldn’t seem to perfectly piece together for nearly three years that drove Drune, during the Summer of 2020, to begin to shape and form their Drown EP. According to their press statement, Drune has this to say on the project’s release:
‘Writing these songs was a way to express grief and anger – for everything lost in the past few years; people, communities, hopes and goals. In that expression, there’s a recognition of that sorrow, allowing it to take its course and wipe the slate clean.’
Beginning with the goal of getting ‘lost in big amps and walls of fuzz’ Drune took inspiration from Sleep, Earth, Big Business, and Pallbearer to rattle the eardrums for all who listen. Members James Isaac Cook on vocals, guitar and synth; Austin Pacharz on bass; and Patrick Haga on drums ushered their debut EP Seer in 2019, a cover of The Velvet Underground’s Venus In Furs in 2020, and a Self-Titled LP in 2021. Each subsequent release saw Drune adding layers of maturity which makes the Drown EP simultaneously their most epic in scope while being more restrained and grounded than previous releases.
Drune fills the stereo with pulsating reverb to create a thick and rattling atmosphere. Wasting no time with their mission aimed at pulling the listener through dirt, In The Earth proves these musicians are alive and in complete control over their respective amplifiers and drumheads. In the mind’s eye, we can easily imagine specks of dust flying off the speakers with each riff from Cook or pluck from Pacharz. Each drum beat hits so precisely Haga must have the dexterity of a surgeon.
Drune fills the stereo with pulsating reverb to create a thick and rattling atmosphere…
A slowly strummed guitar stretches across the soundscape wrapping itself around our psyches we barely notice its hold receding us into the ground. Snarled vocals wretch out the lyric ‘make for hillside, I hear them scream, the sand is shifting, around my feet’. A haze lingering from every instrument seems to surround the sound in its grasp. The breakdowns really take their time stretching out as they drag us deeper into the earth. Weird sirens change the song’s pacing to something slower and even more controlled. So many odd noises are happening deep within the mix.
The words ‘Or’ horizon, lifting tide blocks the sun, as the wave comes sinking to the tide’ may not be the most understandable lyrics, but reading them along with hearing the crushing frequencies adds another dimension to these sounds as they drag us along out of our control. The Sleep influence is very easily detected here with a single riff being explored with the drumming determining where it lands or deviates. That is until we run out of dry land and into fathoms of water.
The feeling of sinking into the ocean comes not only from the pacing on closing track In The Sea, but also from the simulated sounds of bubbles, water movement, and even an increase in cabin pressure can be heard. Given how claustrophobic the previous track was, this one by comparison is completely open and sprawling. While initially comforting, a feeling of despair quickly sets in as we realize how deeply we’ve sunk into the water.
The guitars before were very consistent, but here they seem to flutter in bizarre, almost shoegaze-like, ways that still surprise me five listens in. The brutal vocal delivery is forgone as Cook transitions between somber longing with only hints of his previously wretched style announcing ‘ancestors, blood or line, drawn in fate’. Other passages go barely heard like the line ‘wading in the lower seas, muted violet light’ is pushed so far to the background that it’s hard to tell whether it’s actually his vocals or some deeply hidden guitar riff.
We look around at the end of this vague and obtuse journey now completely devoid of oxygen. Occasionally an undistorted guitar comes in like it’s forcing our eyes open to see how deep we are into this abyss signalling the tale is concluding with the end of our light and our inevitable drowning that the band so eloquently conveys. The closing lyrics ‘sifting waters between, common world and hell’s cave’ signal life fleeing our body as consciousness is depleted. This thing wrecked me.
Scribed by: Richard Murray