Earth Tongue – Great Haunting (In The Red) 13th Floor Album Review

There is a synergy in Great Haunting’s arrival on a Friday. It may be a day late for the 13th, but a day cloaked in grey skies, and replete with sudden downpours and the threat of thunder.  A fitting weatherly backdrop for this brooding, opaque and often clamorous soundscape from Earth Tongue, the two-piece band from Poneke/Wellington.

With a thud and insistence reminiscent of Black Sabbath there’s also a miraculous interweaving of melody, making this more than locally mined heavy metal. Rather it’s a mysterious alloy, defying immediate application of genre. Under the Radar called them “heavy psych / fuzz shredders”. As good any four word description.    

Earth Tongue are Gussie Larkin ( also of Mermaidens) (guitar) and Ezra Simons (drums). Both offer vocals, but mostly Gussie. That they recently supported Queens of the Stone Age and are currently touring in France and the Czech Republic speaks volumes to their trajectory.  

This collection of nine songs are loud, shrill, assertive and reach deep into dark places. Triple-shot long black coffee songs. Full of adrenalin rush and cerebral confrontation. Songs with cavernously invitational openings and sudden endings.

We are taken to spaces of angst, yet some songs draw the listener in beguilingly. Miraculous Death has hypnotic rhythms. At times even a hint of prog rock, Gussie’s ethereal voice channeling moments of Jon Anderson. And Nightmare has enough tightly-packed fuzzy guitar riffs to delight any lover of ZZ-Top. Yet, as throughout, there are moments of delicate vocalisation; grace within the grind, calm within the cataclysm.   

There’s a fine tradition of Kiwi gothic: from novels like The Scarecrow by Ronald Hugh Morrison, to films like Vincent Ward’s Vigil and Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures.  Great Haunting joins that lineage; a sonic journey into the darkly ominous possibilities of wild places and the slightly unhinged psyche. Is it escapism or documenting an unnerving journey? I’m still pondering.  

Robin Kearns