Among the countless droves of new progressive metal bands riding the coattails of the djent movement, what sets The Earth and I apart? To answer that question, I set my destination to Warwick, NY.
The early morning drive serves as a refresher course for the band’s debut, The Candleman, released in November of 2017. In many ways, the album is about balance. For every ambient passage, there is a massive riff; for every catchy melody, a fierce growl. The band touts its versatility without compromising the record’s cohesion.
Just after dawn, I arrive at The Earth and I headquarters: an ominous if small factory, flanked by onion farms as far as the eye can see. Before I can knock, I am greeted by a wiry young man—or is he old?—who offers his hand and the name Meerkat.
I soon find out that Meerkat is one of the band’s guitarists, and an employee here on the weekdays. He talks casually as he leads me deeper into the facility, alive with the low rumble of distant laborers and unknown machinery.
“Can I offer you a beverage? Coffee, syrup, onion? We make it fresh here.” I don’t get a chance to respond. “Towards the end of winter, we’ll release The Curtain, the counterpart to The Candleman,” Meerkat explains. “We have a ton of related content in the works as well. Though, we’re also eager to start writing again. All bets are off for album 3.”
Shortly, we are joined by a young woman—I am sure she is not old—wearing a long tunic fashioned from the pelt of a wolf. Her legs are painted a bright fuschia, in a failed attempt to imitate stockings. I decide not to question it.
“It was a rite of passage,” she asserts cryptically, acknowledging my curiosity. I silently curse my lack of subtlety. She smiles anyway, offering her hand and the name Kendyle. She is the The Earth and I’s vocalist.
“The band shares a musical wanderlust,” Kendyle continues. “Like travelers, we find comfort in unfamiliar places, unfamiliar times. There is always a new noise to be made.”
An arched oak door stands before us, incongruous amid the otherwise industrial setting. Kendyle produces a large keyring, from which she intuitively selects the appropriate key.
The door opens into a circular room, lit dimly by several sconces hanging from damp stone walls. A system of wooden rafters raises the ceiling to a high dome. As my eyes adjust to the lighting, I notice three figures seated around a great, rumbling maw, itself an extension of the floor. They do not seem to notice us.
I struggle to process the scene before me. Either oblivious or apathetic, Meerkat decides to introduce the apparent occultists in turn.
To my left sits Dr. Sandy Dunes. He sports full desert camouflage paired with a lab coat, pristine, save the tail heaped on the floor behind him. He also wields an 8-string guitar, which he strums erratically.
Directly ahead sits Suss ‘n’ Cheese, who dons macaroni-print shorts, no shirt, and a ceramic bowl as a helmet. A throng of hi-hat stands surround him. He pounds at the pedals violently with all of his limbs.
Lastly, to my right sits Fancypants Prescott III, Esq. He tosses vinyl records purposefully into the alien chasm from a neat stack beside him. Among them, I recognize modern titans of the genre, such as Periphery, Tesseract, and Monuments. Periodically, he checks a pocket watch with furrowed brow.
Kendyle beckons me towards the pulsing abyss. My mind reels, paralyzed in panic. Yet I watch my own legs trudge forward against common sense. “Inspiration lives in everything,” she murmurs. “Like a parasite.”
Then, I begin to fall.
• • •
I find myself in a daze, staring at an ominous if small factory, flanked by onion farms as far as the eye can see. The property is overrun with foreclosure signs, and the building has fallen into disrepair from decades of disuse.
I walk back to my car with myriad questions and no satisfying answer. Eventually, I decide the only appropriate course is to cue up The Candleman, turn up the volume, and drive away.
– Written by guitarist Dan Siew