Black Gaia takes a couple tracks to spin up but once it does it becomes readily apparent that Brooklyn’s Netherlands is eager for the world of man to end and no amount of wealth redistribution nor lab-grown meat is going to change their minds.
Hot on the razor sharp stiletto heels of February’s EP, Hope Porn, Netherlands’ latest full-length is set to drop just in time for their big run with Mastodon and Dinosaur Jr. this September. The idea of Netherlands playing their unique take on poppy, stoner-esque doom in the type of venues that can hold a Mastodon sized crowd fills me with an overwhelming sense of joy and a sensation that all is right with the world.
According to Black Gaia though, Netherlands does not agree. Throughout Black Gaia’s runtime, mainman Timo Ellis’ angelic voice soars over an ecological Ragnarok as a mycelial network of synth bass repurposes the biomass formerly known as humanity. Featuring lyrics like “Leave the oil in the ground, leave the earth the way you found it,” the album is more overtly misanthropic, more seemingly spiteful than their old stuff. Falsetto howling about giant wolves and Anthropocene extinctions aren’t so much a departure from previous records as a refinement on Black Gaia.
One of my favorite tracks on the record, Army!, you can listen to right now if you preorder Black Gaia. A finely crafted call to arms against the bourgeois, Shangri La, and apathy computers which builds layer by layer to a gripping crescendo which could heal the nation’s divide if everybody on both sides of the aisle would shut up and listen.
The trademark synthetic lowend on this record is more vibrant and varied than on Hope Porn, doubled up as it is with the addition of band member Chealsea “Thee Chuq” Wierbonski joining Ava Farber on synth-bass. The .MP3s I’ve been obsessing over don’t do this effect proper justice and I suspect the real payoff will be hearing it live. Likewise, the thick rhythmic musculature of drummer Joel “Moon Daddy” Willis is let loose on Black Gaia, especially on the shorter, more frantic tracks.
Modulated growling on Fangorn and Deep Fuck 9 add some vocal variety, not that the band needed it, but it adds the vibe that Ellis and co. are pretty grumpy at the state of things in the western world as is anybody else with internet access in 2018.
Nite Nite with its hypnotic singalong and pensive feeling is a sermon from on high, proselytized from atop a mountain of cheap plastic garbage and obsolete electronics. The operative word being high, as the psychedelic undertones of NethRock still lurk throughout Black Gaia but some listeners may benefit from their preferred form of non-destructive chemical enlightenment to bring it out at first.
Another real stand out song is Crabs. A powerful thunderbolt of a song, I really hope they play it live on the big Mastodon/Dino Jr. tour so everyone can see Ellis as he screams “I HAVE CRAAAAAABS!” Crabs and most other tracks on Black Gaia are the epitome of the Netherlands musical ethic of rejecting restraint in favor of maximum impact. The actual track Black Gaia however, just before the end of the album, is quite the opposite. Sounding like a guided meditation through the barren world of Wall-E once drained of all that cutesy Pixar bullshit.
All in all, Black Gaia is full of what I’ve come to fucking love about Netherlands, tight songs, layered with goose-bump inducing harmonies and fun, interesting lyrics all propelled by a low end groove fuzzier and heavier than a rampaging Kaiju caterpillar. The first two tracks serve as a drawn-out intro and have become entirely skippable for me after repeat listens but the vegan-friendly meat substitute of the album is substantial and satisfying.
Stick around until the end for the Blind Faith cover at the end.
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Label: Records and Tapes Records
For Fans Of: Mastodon, Dinosaur Jr., Torche, Mutoid Man.