Rune Eriksen is a well-traveled gentleman of metal. He was an important part of Mayhem‘s second creative wave and continues to be a foundational part of Aura Noir. He’s also known for his gothic doom vehicle Ava Inferi, which released one of the most enduring albums in the genre with 2011s Onyx. Now he’s launching another project with long-time Ava Inferi collaborator Carmen Susana Simoes. Earth Electric could be called experimental goth rock, and rocking it is, taking an enormous 70s rock influence and shoehorning it into Ava Inferi‘s ethereal goth style. This thing is dangerously overflowing with Deep Purple riffs and Hammond organ swells and as you might imagine, that means it’s encroaching on the hallowed grounds of occult rockers, Ghost. But where the masked muppets are all about slick, poppy writing, Earth Electric let their creative freak flag fly and worry much less about accessibility and immediacy. The result is a weird, at times chaotic jumble of ideas, genres and eras that don’t always coexist well and often actively fight against one another.

Opener “Mountains and Conquerors (Pt. 2)” comes out of the gate with urgent riffing suitable for an Dio solo album, setting the stage for a big stadium rock anthem. But instead of a hard rock snarler or even a Papa-approved crooner, Carmen Simoes shows up with her soft, haunting dove coos. While I dearly love her voice, she sounds tragically out-of-place set against rocked out riffs and thunderous drums, and the two radically different components struggle against each other mightily, though the song itself is solid. This is the lead story of the album, as Rune attempts to fuse angelic vocals with edgy, often rowdy hard rock.

The fit works somewhat better on “The Endless Road” with its more laid back approach giving Carmen more room to weave her hypnotic spell. “The Great Vast” sounds the most like a Ghost song and works for that very reason, but the odd, clicky bass sound had me actually looking around the room for the source of the noise. “Meditate Meditate” is an awkward stew of musical ideas but things finally seem to come together for reasons I cannot pinpoint. The hard rock still chafes and rubs against the soothing vocals in uncomfortable ways, but here it produces a useful tension instead of chaotic mish-mash. This song hints at what could come from this concept and it’s a genuinely interesting tune.

Sadly, the bulk of Solar can’t maintain this delicate balancing act. The title track starts strong with an energetic occult rock guitar line that carries through past the midway point, but then things run out of steam and the song limps to a weak conclusion. “Sabbatical Moons” is aptly named as its lead riff feels lifted from Sabbath‘s Never Say Die album, but the surrounding music is somewhat dull. The album winds out with a two minutes of joyous hippie chanting which adds less atmosphere than was likely intended and closes the show on a down note.

Vol I: Solar is quite short at just over 33-minutes, but for whatever reason, it feels way longer, and not in a good way. While the band gets full points for creativity, this is a tough album to get into. It requires patience and attention for the music to gel and even then, it’s hit or miss. The clash of disparate music and vocal styles rarely resolves itself in favor of the listener and while there’s a wealth of interesting music, things all too often feel hectic and unfocused. With so much rocking music, you find yourself desperately wishing for a rock-ready singer to join the fray with a mighty Jornish roar or even a high-pitched Paul Stanley-esque, “How are you doing tonight??!” It never comes and that leaves a mental bruise.

For all her talent, Carmen Simoes is completely out of her element here, much as Russell Allen would be on a Dodecahedron album. The music itself is often quite good and with a more appropriate vocalist things could have been quite entertaining. Rune’s guitar-work is often tasty, mixing 70s rock with psychedelic elements, with occasional segueing into metal riffing. The keyboards courtesy of Dan Knight reek of Jon Lord and Deep Purple and they play an important part in Earth Electric‘s atmosphere and style. There’s ample talent on hand, but it’s the concept itself holding the band back from greater success.

Vol I: Solar is an interesting concept that falls short of successful execution. Still, for more adventurous listeners and those who wish Ghost were more progressive, this may be exactly what Doctor Rockter ordered. Rune to improve.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Websites: earthelectric.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/earthelectricband
Releases Worldwide: May 12th, 2017

Share →
  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    While I agree with basically everything said here, it is so entertaining that I can’t help but think it’s worth at least one listen from anyone even remotely interested in the idea. Probably the most entertaining album I have no intentions of listening to ever again from this year.

  • ARelativelyNewPerson

    Why is it I dislike anything with a drum whose snare just sounds like “thwack thwack thwack”. Like are you trying to smash it for the volume or what?

  • rumour_control

    “…a rock-ready singer to join the fray with a mighty Jornish roar…” — Nice touch in a good review of a disappointing release.

  • Zach Ward

    Can someone please tell me some actual quality female fronted bands because all I know really is Ocean of Slumber and that’s it. For some reason I have a certain dislike of them, not cause they’re bad, but I find they rarely fit well.

    • mtlman1990

      check out Blackthorn

    • Castle.

    • Marc Brown

      Chelsea Wolfe, though not strictly metal. Try The Abyss album.

      • Sean Sky

        Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Randle are two I’ve found recently that I’m really digging. But yeah not strictly metal.

        Wildspeaker are a pretty cool female fronted black metal band. Their split with Cara Neir was excellent.

    • Ranfle

      Avatarium

    • Paul VH

      Cult of Luna with Julie Christmas on the Mariner album.

      • Doesn’t really count but sure why not.

        • Paul VH

          Oh I think I met the criteria of the question. And it’s really good.

          • It’s not a female fronted band. What you listed is a one-off collaboration project. Until Ms. Christmas joins CoL, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

            FWIW: It was my AOTY up on MFi.

          • Paul VH

            True…however….my friend above could potentially miss out on a stellar album with a female lead.
            Thusly I endeavoured to enlighten him.

    • Lars Barres

      If you like doom, check out Alunah and Bathsheba (assuming you haven’t already).

      For black metal (or whatever ya wanna call it) there’s Myrkur, but you’ve probably heard them/her.

      For fruity medieval folk rock, Blackmore’s Night.

    • Diego Molero

      Diablo Swing Orchestra. They have two singers, a female and a male. Check out the album Pandora’s Piñata. It got a 5.0/5.0 on this site, courtesy of AMG himself.

      • Zach Ward

        Their album art scares me…

        • Diego Molero

          Hahaha yeah, all of their albums cover art are pretty weird. What do you think of the music?

          • Zach Ward

            Very weird… Not fully sure on how I feel. Only real complaint is the operatic vocals which I’ve never been a fan of in anything. Will have to give em more listens.

          • Diego Molero

            Very weird indeed. It took me like 3 or 4 spins to fully appreciate the album as a whole. I’m not a fan of opera either, but on this record they ended up fitting in my opinion. Maybe it’s really not your thing, but like you said, give a couple more listens to the full album and hopefully it will click as it did with me.

          • Zach Ward

            Oh I will. While I may not completely enjoy it right now, it is very interesting to listen to. The first song I heard Mass Rupture was genuinely great, then it kind of tampered off with some others. But it’s something I do want to hear more of.

      • Flyingguillotine

        Huge fan, love them.

    • Ivan E. Rection

      I’ll throw one out there from years ago: Left Hand Solution, album is called “Fevered”. Check it out, they did it before it was trendy.

      • Dan

        I thought nobody still remembers ! Cheers ! Fevered was an excellent album. I would also add their excellent EP “Shadowdance”

    • Huck N’ Roll

      The new Crystal Fairy is really good also.

    • Zach Ward

      I’ll be checking out all of these band. Thanks dewds!!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Jex Thoth

    • Eli Valcik

      Check out mammoth weed wizard bastard. They came out witb one of the best and most overlooked doom albums, the album is called y pyffd dwll or something like that

      • drug_genosh

        along those lines is Kroh, which I might like more than mwwb (who I do like quite a bit)

        • Eli Valcik

          I like Kroh as well. I just happened to like the unique vocals and cool riffs in mwwb and also how often do you see bands sound “popy” but actually make it sound good. But all it is at the end of the is just different opinions, and what band we kinda like more than another doesn’t really matter. But you get a virtual fist bump for beng like the first person I’ve talked to who listens to mwwb.

    • Drew Music

      Black Table and Allochiria are both quality bands with female vocalists. I prefer BT, but both produce awesome post-blackish gloriousness.

    • ElectricEye

      Mortals and Kylesa

    • LExpoZiod

      The Gathering, Sylvaine, Luna Mortis, The Gentle Storm, Nightwish, Messa and, if you want to step outside metal, Casualties of Cool and Renaissance.

      Edit: And how could I forget AMG’s personal favourite, Amaranthe.

    • Aidan Riess

      EARLY (major emphasis on early) Nightwish

      • jetblindracos

        Right you are.

      • LExpoZiod

        C’mon, the newer albums aren’t THAT bad.

        • Sean Sky

          Some are actually pretty good; I thought Dark Passion Play was great. My friend says the newest vocalist is really good too.

    • Tofu muncher

      Arch Enemy

    • Tristania, Draconian, Obscure Sphinx.

    • herrschobel

      Dark Castle + Jucifer + Made Out of Babies ( one of my all-time Favourites)

      • drug_genosh

        dark castle is great, whatever happened to them??

    • drug_genosh

      dreadnaught for some proggy, post-post-blackmetal

    • pafg

      Royal Thunder and Avatarium

    • Oathbreaker FTW.

    • TheCurlyMetalhead

      Trees Of Eternity, Messa, Esben And The Witch, Chelsea Wolfe (don’t judge me hahahaha) :D

    • Obscure Sphinx (Void Mother), Chelsea Wolfe (Abyss) and Avatarium (Self Titled and Girl with the Raven Mask) are probably a few of my favorites. And then you get bands like Epica … they get a lot of love, but not my cup of tea.

  • Frost15

    Mmm I found what I heard from this album quite interesting… I hope I receive my copy soon to have a complete veredict.

  • Thatguy

    Vol. 1 implies a Vol. 2 and then a Vol. 3.

    I though we didn’t approve of triple albums here.

    • It feels like an empty threat.

      • Thatguy

        I guess so.

      • Tofu muncher

        soooo when do we get to read the review of Axel Rudi Pell The Ballads Volume V?

  • I haven’t listened to the full album, but I put this on my Bandcamp wishlist a few weeks ago and it was the vocals that sold me. I think they sound great and give the music a dose of atmosphere. I think it would have lost a lot with a regular hard rock style vocalist. The embedded track sounds great.

  • Nate Sweet

    Review pretty much nailed it. Great Job! Sounds like proggy Ghost without the oppressive anti-religious lyrics. Although to be fair I have no idea what this singer is saying. Regardless definitely warrants a full listen.