A Look Back at a Dark, Underrated Gem by Epic New York Art-Rock Band Of Earth
Almost a decade ago, New York art-rockers Of Earth released their debut album, one of the few records that deserves mention alongside visionary, sweeping Australian psychedelic group the Church . Of Earth’s follow-up, The Monarch, from 2013 – still available as a name-your-price download at Bandcamp – is their Wish You Were Here, a dark, mighty masterpiece awash in layer upon layer of guitar and keyboard orchestration. It doesn’t quite hit the majesty of their first record, but it’s awful close, and there isn’t a weak song on it.
“Digging the truth from the shelters…we can murder the might, and into the night,” singer/bassist Rob De Luca intones over a dark, sweeping backdrop as the opening track, Sweep the Fire gets underway. Drummer Mike May’s groove subtly changes shape, alluding to a wryly staggered Led Zep riff.
The Prototype is a briskly stomping, orchestrated metal-flavored anthem, bringing to mind searingyguitarist Keith Otten‘s legendary/obscure zeroes band the Gotham 4. The title track has De Luca’s cold, enigmatically processed vocals over a backbeat drive that grows more intense: 90s stadium rock bands like Ride come to mind, at least until Paul Casanova’s multitracked guitars explode over the bridge.
Queen of the Apocalypse is a bitter, towering kiss-off anthem, the fluttering deep-space orchestration of Casanova and keyboardist Rick Chiarello rising to a crushing peak on the chorus. Open Letter/Everything is a diptych, its bass-driven, circling, suspenseful, 17 Pygmies-ish spacerock giving way to slow, vast Floydian menace, the organ and guitars massing over De Luca’s tersely growling lines. Casanova’s Spanish guitar solo half-buried in the mix is a neat and subtle touch.
Further Than Rome is spare, desolate and driftingly hypnotic, anchored by tersely slipsliding bass and lingering, bell-like guitar. This loosely connected, bitter concept album winds up with Where Did It All Go: imagine Pink Floyd covering the Stooges, with a searing outro that could have gone on for twice as long as it does. There’s also an alternate mix of the opening cut at the end of the record. This isn’t stereotypical Halloween music, but it’s also relentlessly dark. Fans of towering, majestic psychedelic rock grandeur: Floyd, the Church and David Bowie’s most psychedelic early 70s albums, like Diamond Dogs – will not be disappointed. It’s a shock this band didn’t go further than they did.