Review: Escaping Aghartha – Croak
Escaping Aghartha is back with another concept work of musical environmental activism, this time bringing attention to our amphibian friends who are at dire risk.
While the last few Escaping Aghartha releases reviewed by me took on more of a black metal vibe, Croak is, if you insist on categories, more of a funeral doom feeling. And for good reason. According to the album copy, amphibian species are going extinct at a rate of 211 times normal compared to the baseline rate.
If you dug the releases from the band so far, you’ll still dig Croak, though this time Avery has a whole crew of musicians on board, a band rather than a one person project. The opening track, “Chytrid,” named after an invasive fungus spread by humans which has already wiped out some species, sets the tone for the record quite well. Almost hitting the 10-minute mark, the track starts out at a mournful funeral doom pace, progressing by the end to a more frantic, angry tone.
“Perpetual Decline” and “Into Extinction” form a set of very cool instrumental pieces, though I think “Into Extinction” is my favorite out of the two, with a decent amount of noise influence, and it leads right into “Consuming Drought,” a pounding doom song which brings back more noise influence, which I honestly would love to see Escaping Aghartha dig more into, as it not only adds interesting textures, but piles on this sense of disintegration that the unfortunate subject matter brings to the table.
And now the title track, a 12.5-minute long exercise in mourning. Composition-wise, it becomes most interesting to me around the 8 minute mark where the synths come in and sort of make a bitonal thing happen. When the experimentation happens is when this album really, truly shines, and the oddities of that experimentation I think would aid in making people listen to the message behind the music and hopefully take the environmental activist intent more seriously.
As odd as it is to say on a nearly 40 minute long work, I left Croak after a few listens wanting more. Both in terms of bringing that experimental potential more to light, but also in terms of just general amount of material. However, I did enjoy the music on the work quite a bit, though thematically it does bring me down a bit during this time of rising fascism, anti-LGBT legislation, the climate crisis, and insane wealth inequality to throw another thing onto the pile of worries and anxieties and general mourning of the loss of a world that could have been. Oh well. Throw it onto the pile. We’re all in this together, folks. Let’s take care of each other, including our flora and fauna friends.
4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
If you like Croak you can buy it digitally and on CD on Escaping Aghartha’s Bandcamp. All sales during the first month are being given to conservation efforts to hopefully help stem the crisis affecting amphibians.