Eaters Of The Soil from Utrecht, Netherlands, play music as dirty and earthy as you might expect from their image-inspiring name. What is entirely unexpected (if you come to the EP without having read anything about them) is that they aren’t a blackened sludge band as the name might suggest – they are a doom jazz fusion band. For those of you who have taken the frankly insane decision to arrange your record collection by genre, I’m gonna take the hugely risky leap in assuming that your ‘doom jazz fusion’ section is quite small.
If this musical combination doesn’t sound quite challenging enough, then focus on the fact that the EP has no vocals, and instead relies on occasional voice samples for its narrative thread. It actually opens with a sample of serial killer Ed Kemper (at least I think it’s him) describing how he suffocated his victims with plastic bags. This is definitely not Mötley Crüe!
The first track, Point Of Capture, is in all honesty one of the most unwelcoming openings to a record that I can recall. There is very little in the way of a riff that you can latch onto, and the free-form jazz elements are taken to an extreme. If you’re looking for a clear melodic or rhythmic motif and you find one, then you are a more skilled listener than me dear reader.
Second track, Untouched, Unspoken To, provides an experience more like what I was expecting from the description on the Forbidden Place Records Bandcamp page. I wouldn’t call myself an avid jazz fan, but I’ve got a fair grounding in the classics, and the idea of doom metal fused with jazz immediately made me think of Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way album. It’s a fascinatingly sparse record which uses many of the same musical composition techniques as many of our favourite doom and post-metal bands – where small melodic phrases are returned to over and over again, but in different forms. Well, this second track does just that, and it does it well.
the free-form jazz elements are taken to an extreme…
Burrowing, Feasting keeps us on the same wavelength as the previous track. The horns are slightly more ethereal here and the additional non-musical noise elements are more prominent. It remains challenging, but at this point (if you’ve made it this far) there is reward to be found.
I’ll mention at this point what the eagle-eyed amongst you will have assumed from the very beginning – this is Eaters Of The Soil’s second EP – and you would be correct in that assumption. EP number I was released in July 2021 (both are on Forbidden Place Records) and having given that a listen, I would recommend starting there – it’s a (very slightly) more accessible experience, and EP II makes much more sense in light of it. The tracks from the two EPs are actually sequentially numbered, suggesting they are two parts of one whole. However, I think going down the EP format route was the right way to go. A full album as an introduction to Eaters Of The Soil would potentially put off even the most committed of extreme music fans.
The final track, Subcurrent, does much the same as tracks two and three, and that’s what I find problematic about this EP; it’s not really the doom/jazz hybrid that I’ve found difficult, it’s the lack of variety.
Would I recommend that people rush out and buy this EP? No. However, I would heartily challenge everyone to stream it via your legal fee-paying music service of choice, as we should all push our own musical boundaries once in a while, and Eaters Of The Soil will certainly do that.
Scribed by: David J McLaren