“Beneath the Sod scrape back the top soil to lay bare all that is repulsive and feculent beneath. Narcotic and eldritch, Beneath the Sod erodes the listener with a writhing tapestry of industrial doom, grinding noise and hallucinatory horror. Punishing and bewildering, with each release Beneath the Sod sinks deeper into their unique and singularly maddening mire”.
Those are the accurately evocative words with which Cursed Monk Records introduces a new self-titled EP by this utterly diabolical Irish band, an EP set for release on December 17th that we’re presenting today in the full bloom of its terrors. We have more detailed commentary of our own, of course, but at least one more way of attempting to sum up the experience might be this:
It is deeply unsettling, even to the point of inducing queasiness in the listener, and brings forward the stuff of nightmares as old as humanity, and yet manages to become bewitching, to transfix attention, maybe in part because it is so fiendishly effective in crushing the soul and unhinging the mind.
To prepare your about-to-be-ruined mind for what is to come, Beneath the Sod begin with the ominous droning tones and frightening spoken words of “Silence of the Lead“, which then proceeds through the glacial gouging of gruesomely distorted guitar, a heaving bass pulse, the distant reverberating pop of drums, and larynx-ruining screams. The combined effect is as bleak as a sucking chest wound, and grows if anything more horrifying when the track segues into unearthly ambient tones and hideous roars.
The ghastly eeriness of the music is perpetuated in the booming drums, corrosive noise, and cacophonous vocal horrors of “Begotten of Grot“. The rhythms are unstable, the crackling and whining electronics unnerving, and the vocals thoroughly terrorizing. Ghosts seem to wail. Cauldrons seem to bubble. Funeral bells peal. We seem rooted in a torture chamber of unfathomable pain.
Then you’ll encounter “Drooping Spirit“, which might have been better-named “Ruined Spirit”. There’s a rhythm here, slow but syncopated. Like a giant reptile, a hopeless but perversely captivating keyboard melody undulates across a horrifying soundscape of hellish voices. A distorted guitar picks up the methodical melody and drags it along, then passes it to the weird pinging tones of a synth and the insectile skittering of electronics. Shivers will continue to run down your spine.
The vocals in “Drooping Spirit” will prevent listeners from becoming spellbound, but it still represents something of a lull before “Expulsion of Revulsion”, which sounds completely enraged, utterly beleaguered, and monumentally destructive. It discharges a morass of heaving and clawing bass-guitar abrasion, earth-shaking low-end upheavals, bomb-like detonations, crazed screaming, and a cruel cornucopia of other demented and demolishing noises (some of which sound like a saxophone being tortured). Again, there are cranium-popping, spine-snapping drum rhythms in the mix too, which help keep you tied down as the rest of the instrumentation inflicts its ruinous ministrations.
Speaking of ruinous, the opening collage of freaked-out noise that opens “Rustling of the Spheres” is definitely that. The ensuing craggy bass notes wander and weave like a drugged beast. A siren seems to scream behind a fusillade of jolting percussive grooves, which get out of the way as the bass starts lurching again, joined by paralyzing shrieks.
“Silence of the Lead” began the EP, and “Deafness of Lead” ends it — with rusted organ-like tones and acid-bathed-blood-spraying screams. The agony of whatever is making the riff is palpable. The track begins to sound almost symphonic in the mutated ringing tones with which it ends, sounds that leave no hope for the future.
This will be Beneath The Sod’s third release after their debut album Circling the Drain (Fort Evil Fruit, 2017), and their split with Crypticum, Transmorphic Eye (Cursed Monk Records, 2018). It features guest vocals from Richard Carson (Unyielding Love). It’s available for preorder now.
BENEATH THE SOD: