Nature is Beautiful (Vol. IV – Aquaphobia)

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The Owl is back with another batch of things to make you never want to go outside again. And some fresh tunes.

From the top of the dunes, you feel like the master of your destiny—or at least the rest of the afternoon. Sunscreen adds a sheen to the musculature of your body (you bet it’s high SPF, everything is under control), and you notice a fair amount of ogling as you walk down the stairs to the beach. After working up a good sweat through a few games of frisbee, you walk with confidence to the shoreline. As the frigid water rushes over your feet, grains of sand tumbling across your skin, the memory returns: burning lungs, retching salt, becoming a rag doll beneath the waves. The shadow hovering by the rocks. Your grin falters for an instant.

In the water, danger seems to be magnified tenfold; the form of a small fish is met with a gallon of adrenaline dumped into the blood, and the murk of silt breeds thoughts of serrated teeth. Lakes and oceans are spheres outside our own, as alien as space, all the more frightening for their proximity. Without our plastics and metals, we’re reduced to pathetic playthings in this evolutionary forge, maladapted to the pressures of such a hostile environment. Join me as I dive below the surface, where otherworldly is the only norm.

Bobbit Worm – Broadcast Spawning

Rumor has it your band likes to keep it tech—you’ve got the prerequisite Par Olofsson painting, a lyric video directed by the crew of the Blair Witch Project and production as compressed as the Marianas Trench. You know the color hex codes of Periwinkle and Purple Mountain’s Majesty by heart, but your palette is primal compared to the Bobbit Worm. This polychaete is what the Incurso longboi sees in its nightmares—an iridescent exoskeleton, reaching up to 10 feet in length, tipped with five antennae and mandibles that pinch harder than your harmonics ever could. While you wank a thousand notes a minute and see what sticks, the Bobbit Worm engages in broadcast spawning, a life strategy that goes something like this: a female releases a pheromone, causing nearby males to release clouds of sperm into the open water; the female follows suit with her eggs and suddenly, there are a boatload of bobbits in town. Now that’s what I call spray and pray.

This cute lil’ guy lives in a place called the abyssal plain. It’ll take your tech card, like…right now.

When Wormed wrote “REMOTE VOID,” they must’ve just finished watching Blue Planet II; they’re obviously referring to the realm of the bobbit. Just take a look at these lyrics and try not to imagine David Attenborough waxing poetic about broadcast spawning: “Chemical triggers / Dance of atoms and molecules / Environmental stimuli.” For a creature this unearthly, only the most complex, contorted tech will suffice.

Suriname Toad – Amplexus & More

You were caught in a mosh in the maternity ward, and you’ve been doing the toxic waltz ever since, to the disdain of concert-goers everywhere. There’s a Metal-Archives entry for each of your unique body odors (31% – Raw Onion & Gym Socks), and people from thirteen countries have accidentally ingested strands of your hair after collisions at concerts. But did you ever crash into someone so hard that their back became pregnant? Step aside, carebear—it’s time to open up this pit for the Suriname Toad. Amplexus (or “froggy style,” if you prefer) isn’t unique to this amphibian species, but somersaulting through the water above the lakebed during coitus is; if that isn’t extreme enough for you, during this motion, the fertilized eggs are pressed into the female’s back and become embedded in her flesh. Over time, they’re encapsulated in these pockets, growing through their tadpole stage before emerging as fully functioning toadlets.

About as crowded as the Palladium Upstairs (only Massachusetts kids will understand).

Get back here, silly! You didn’t even see the GIF yet.

Angron‘s “Encysted Within” is more than just an oddly accurate description of this toad’s back; it’s the sonic equivalent of an avalanche of bodies introducing you to the floor. The band wastes no time pummeling listeners with their brand of crude death metal—blunt palm-mutes coated in pond scum, as loud as the ear can hear. One can only imagine this song as the soundtrack to being pancaked in a live setting; it’s only fitting, as the Portuguese name for this toad is sapo pipa, “pipa” meaning kite, describing its flattened form. Give this track a spin, I encyst!

Geographer Cone Snail – Modified Radula

Death-doom is a notoriously difficult genre to make work. After all, what could possibly go wrong when marrying a 2 BPM snoozefest with listless tremolo riffs for 12 minutes? More often than not, we’re left with two extreme sounds that meld together into something as menacing as a bowl of oatmeal with little candy dinos inside. Fear not, for there exists a perfect mixture of sluggish and speedy, of beauty and vulgarity—the Geographer Cone Snail. There are few gastropods (other than Slugdge) capable of such violence; it all starts with the radula, a sort of modified tooth-tube (attached to the snail’s proboscis) that shoots out like a harpoon from inside the shell. Once embedded in its prey (this is a snail that hunts fish, let that sink in), a cocktail of toxins is released, immobilizing the fish so that it can be devoured.

But what does this have to do with beauty? Take a look at its shell; there’s a reason the Geographer Cone has been responsible for around 30 human fatalities. The attractive coloration and patterns are sought after for jewelry and other crafts, leading to close encounters that can go south quickly. The radula is strong enough to pierce through wetsuits, and there is no antivenom. No wonder it’s known colloquially as the “Cigarette Snail:” after being stung, you’ve got just enough time for one last smoke before your heart stops pumping.

“This’ll look great on a string around my ne-“

The members of Weeping Sores may not live inside structures of calcium carbonate, but they sure know their way around a dynamic tune. “Scars Whispering Secret Tongues” covers a lot of ground during its run-time, from dirges draped in wailing strings to grinding triplet grooves. The seams between death and doom are hidden deep in the song’s DNA, and each tempo change, each shift in emotions, is as unpredictable as nature.

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