EP Review: Despite Earth [India] Revive Groove in the Progressive Instrumental Scene for Promising ‘Apotheosis’ Debut

Around the late 2000’s, a sudden rise of instrumental progressive metal commenced. There was… Scale the Summit, Animals as Leaders, Angel Vivaldi, Sithu Aye, Modern Day Babylon, Polyphia, etc. … and it became to be too much all at once. With so many artists painting similar styles in the same multiple decade-long painting contest, this art style became less distinguishable and gradually dull. Guitarist / producer Biswajit Misra and drummer Sange Wangchuk (All Seeing Eye) have teamed up to form Despite Earth and potentially find distinction in the ongoing, over-saturated wave of instrumental progressive metal. While I’m mostly anxious about new instrumental projects competing with the big fish in the muddied pond, the initial hurdle is creating music that is able to catch attention without the typically essential vocal element, which can provide both a melody and lyrical theme. All this considered, Despite Earth has an uphill battle on their debut EP, Apotheosis.

“Self” introduces the 4-track release with a no-holds-barred aggressive, polyrhythmic banger. The energy is high, djent grooves are infectious, and the heaviness is guaranteed to get all bodies in the venue acting more primal. While four minutes, the song does not waste a second with every musical moment punching without restraint. Despite being really impressed by the gusto of this piece, I do wish for more emphasis on the lead guitar. Much of the song runs at full speed through the rhythm department without letting the guitar melodies shine prominently through the mix as much as they deserve.

The seething, ambient noise that winds down the previous track acts as the momentum and brief segue to “Persona,” a more nuanced, well-rounded exercise in progressive instru-metal. Although I love how there’s great balance and variety in this song, I’m already beginning to long for vocals to accentuate the instrumentals. I could absolutely envision melodic cleans and growls lifting this piece to the heights of Monuments or Skyharbor. Misra himself has admitted that the demos were written intending for a vocalist. I’m not certain if the better solution would be:

Choice A: a vocalist addition, joining the even larger and more competitive scene of metalcore


Choice B: risk it and double down on the established instrumental identity, adding more melodic guitar licks layered on top to remedy the aforementioned need for vocals

That’s a gamble that Despite Earth will need to take moving forward.

Third track / lead single “Akrasia” keeps my interest while bringing further confidence to the riff table. Furthermore, the late-Deafheaven shoegaze swells that sting throughout the piece really cements the overall song into the memorable prog-metal echelon. Tastefully, it kicks ass. The duo fortunately saved the best for last as “Animus” closes the album, claiming the most high energy headbanger in a GojiraChon amalgamation. There’s gritty groove. There’s stellar musicianship. And most of all, it’s dripping in dynamic pizzazz. In spite of the fact that an occasional Lorna Shore-like guttural could fit perfectly here, I do believe that “Animus” showed the most promise of an instrumental composition that fully speaks for itself without vocals.

Although this debut EP showcases some truly phenomenal music, my previous concerns still ring true. The absence of vocals occasionally left me desiring more depth. I’m rather curious at the result of if Misra and Wangchuk added a vocalist into the mix. Alternatively, the instrumentals alone put me in a similar trance as when listening to The Joy of Motion (Animals as Leaders‘ 2014 magnum opus) for the first time. Despite Earth is now at a fork in the road and must determine the best route when moving forward as both paths show promise for greatness. Apotheosis is undoubtedly an impressive display in musicianship; our interests are piqued on how the project will mold and unfold moving forward.

Rating: 7.5 / 10

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