(DGR reviews the latest EP by Earth Control from Tacoma, Washington — the band formerly known as Owen Hart.)
When I reviewed Ovid’s Withering’s recent release Scryers Of The Ibis a few days back, I mentioned that there were some discs that I could not in good conscience let the year end without discussing in some form, if only to explain why they may be appearing on certain year-end lists from seemingly out of nowhere. Earth Control’s Dead Wrestler EP is not one of those discs. Instead, it is something of an old touching of bases for me — in part because I had just recently rediscovered them after curiosity got the best of me and I wondered what happened to the group Owen Hart, only to discover that they had received a cease and desist order from the WWE/Hart Family (which, let’s be real, was probably the only way this was fated to go) and the band had to change their name.
They chose the name Earth Control, after the title of the CD Owen Hart had put out earlier — but by that point I had long since lost the thread with this Tacoma, WA based grind band. I discovered the Earth Control disc in part due to another writer at one of the sites I was at. She described them as sounding like Converge (of whom she was a huge fan, and thus a huge fan of the Earth Control disc) and she was partly right. Owen Hart (now Earth Control, in case you’re losing track) have a very chaotic sound, reminiscent of how Converge sound sometimes — 70% noise/30% music, buried in all the reverb, feedback, and static that they could produce and just hammering away at their instruments. Owen Hart do the same thing, but they sound like Converge if Converge were to throw their instruments off the side of a building and record the impact.
Thus, when I found out they had taken the name Earth Control and in the summer of this year released an EP entitled Dead Wrestler… — at least I think they released it this summer — I had to check it out, if only to reconnect with the band who had given me the songs, “Fuck Morrisey, Fuck The Smiths, Fuck The Cure” and “Welcome to Worthless Piece Of Shit-ville Population: You”.
It may just be that the band have always been terrible at social media… or the more likely possibility that they just don’t give a shit. But without Metal-Archives I honestly wouldn’t have known any of this. If there is one thing that represents Earth Control though, it is noise and chaos. It seems like they live their lives and approach their music the exact same way though, because if you look at their Bandcamp page for the Dead Wrestler EP, all it says is “Headbang” — while including a link to the two tracks they contributed to This Comp Kills Fascists Vol 2, songs that they list on the Bandcamp player as “(t^tbnva7&5s)re0aps3” and “(2d*i*s.@gp3io)re#aese”, I kid you not. In reality, the songs have entirely different names, but it makes me wonder if this was done to avoid any static from the Relapse team, since the band are on Vitriol Records.
In part, I tell you all this is to help explain why Dead Wrestler has a song on it entitled “MY BAG OF POTATO CHIPS IS TOO LOUD”. Dead Wrestler is three tracks long, clocking in at a full seven minutes. “MY BAG OF POTATO CHIPS” is probably the grindiest song on this record, with a length of only a bit over a minute. It’s the one filled with blasts and a huge wall of guitars hitting you at once. They have these things tuned for buzzsaw efficiency, but it feels very much like Earth Control are barely in control of their own actions on these instruments.
The vocal style hasn’t changed, consisting of some seriously high shrieking that verges on unintelligible but completely matches the hurricane sound the band are trying to generate. They’re a storm in instrument form, with each song eventually just becoming a 200 mph wind gust blowing right by your head. “BAG OF POTATO CHIPS” is instant violence, though, going from zero to one hundred in about the half-second it takes for the feedback to clear from the intro right up to the first blast. It falls in pretty well with the Earth Control disc in terms of songs likely to get people to destroy one another.
“BLACK COLLAR” almost took the title, but it decides to run for another thirty seconds of putting people’s faces to the grinding wheel until there’s nothing left but skull. Basically, “BLACK COLLAR” and “POTATO CHIPS” feel like one song split apart with a breath in between. They also comprise only half of the EP’s length, with the last song “ALIEN GONZALES” being the other half at four minutes. Earth Control are no stranger to longer tracks — about half on the Earth Control CD were that way. So it really comes down to how that song goes that decides whether the EP is really worth your time, because four minutes at the speed these guys go can be a suffocating experience.
“ALIEN GONZALES” should probably be like a return to home for the folks who have the Earth Control CD, because it has that slower, doom feel to it in the opening before commencing the whirlwind that this band will whip themselves into. It’s actually something of a deception, because the ending of the song is a pretty harsh groove fading in and out, including a few seconds of silence before it returns. It also gives the band a chance to break out some of their low vocals as well as the tighter, heavily picked black metal guitar that makes the band sound like a swarm. The song never gets past medium tempo, so it is an entirely different style from what the opening sections of Dead Wrestler suggest; it’s something of a slog, seeking to weigh the listener down, and it’s a challenge to get through. Not in a bad way, but it’s definitely a harsh experience — for which the band deserves commendation.
I suspect that this review looks in part like written insanity, because from my perspective the band fell off the face of the Earth for a bit and I feel like I’m trying to describe them to you in foreign tongues. Dead Wrestler is like some hidden gem that I uncovered due to the internet, and it is an intense experience. The surprise is exacerbated by the fact that I don’t know where it came from, only that I got curious as to what happened to a band I used to really enjoy and found that they were still active under a different name — and still bad at the social media/information-about-themselves aspect of things. There’s something of a possibility that I may be reviewing music that hit last year or in some year before that and is just now streaming on the internet, which would be in keeping with the chaotic atmosphere that Earth Control create.
They’ve been listed before as a hybrid of black metal and grindcore, and that is a really close descriptor considering how much of the black metal guitar playing you can hear on their releases so far. Dead Wrestler is the first I’ve seen of any release under the Earth Control name, so if anyone is curious about what happened to the Owen Hart guys, they still sound like a hurricane hitting you head-on with debris that’s just missing your face and the occasional explosive eruption of rage, leaving a constant ringing in your ears. And for anyone who hasn’t heard these guys before, give Dead Wrestler a spin. It’ll be over long before you know it, and then see if you can find the Earth Control CD under their old band name — I highly recommend that as well.