Among the least accessible subgenres in the heavy metal universe are sludge metal, drone metal, and the more extreme varieties of doom metal. Sludge metal is simply unpleasant to many, while the slow tempos of doom metal may be difficult for many people to appreciate, and drone metal is amorphous and borders on being soundscape art rather than "music proper". Bold as they are Sea of Bones have opted to build their style of music around these three genres. So, needless to say, their 2013-release The Earth Wants Us Dead is as far from the mainstream as we can get.
Building on crushingly heavy riffs and oppressively slow beats, accompanied by angry and harsh vocals typical of sludge metal, Sea of Bones' music on this album very much suits the barrenness that the band's name invokes. Even in those places where the tempo goes up, things are kept minimalistic and oppressive, although the drums take up a more dynamic character which creates an interesting contrast to the rest of the instrumentation in the uptempo segments. Mercifully, the listener is allowed to take a breather from the sludgy intensity, as mellow - yet dark - instrumental passages are inserted throughout the album. Most of these are oriented towards drone music, with the title track being forty minutes of droning, which starts out darkly atmospheric and slowly builds in intensity in a way that cannot be described but must be experienced.
The Earth Wants Us Dead is unpleasant and inaccessible to those who do not understand sludge, drone, and doom metal, and, because it is as much a work of art as a rock record, I reckon that most mainstream and other casual listeners will not be able to appreciate it. However, if you are an aficionado of these three challenging subgenres, then you should definitely give this album a listen, as you are guaranteed to enjoy the challenges it throws at you.
1. The Stone the Slave and the Architect (8:51)
2. Black Arm (7:02)
3. Failure of Light (13:28)
4. Beneath the Earth (9:53)
5. The Bridge (12:54)
6. The Earth Wants Us Dead (39:32)