REVIEW: Earth Groans – Renovate [EP/2017]

Artist: Earth Groans 

Album: Renovate – EP


The process of reinvention and renovation is daunting and involved. Indeed, it often involves stripping yourself down to the girders—leaving nothing but the raw, natural essence of yourself standing—while you work tirelessly to synthesize yourself anew. It means knowing not just who you are, but who you want to be, and being willing to do what it takes to get there.

To Renovate oneself takes motivation, passion and sacrifice; it is for neither the weak-willed or weak minded, which makes Renovate the perfect title for the label debut by South Dakota devastators Earth Groans. Laden with powerful, punchy aggression bold enough to level skyscrapers and remodel landscapes, yet intricate and emotionally poignant enough to reduce even the most stone-cast hearts to warm, mushy rubble, Renovate is where meaning meets murderous intent, with breakdowns and riffs engineers to crack ribs and relocate organs, yet masterful musicianship prominent enough to stand out among a sea of contemporary metalcore competitors.

Earth Groans are an energetic and driven quartet that combine ever-so-slightly melodic moments of subtlety with surreal, sinister heaviness with magnificent ease and smoothness. Take, for example, the incredible percussion of Brady Mueller, starting “The Estate” with the deafening roar of a jet engine and the candor of the Energizer Bunny on a caffeine and meth bender. Mueller’s drumming is the band’s strong and sturdy heartbeat, pushing every second of Renovate forward like the ventricles and atria of a marathon runner—especially on the dizzying and dazzling “Eclipse,” where his kick drum is cannon-like and booming, a stark contrast to his sharp and slicing snare. Where Mueller refuses to be kept down, bassist Kaden Burton never lets him get too ahead of himself, coating every pattern in thick, muddy bass grooves that add a perfect amount of heft to even the most uproarious portions of Renovate. In this way, the two work in dynamic dialectic—topped off by the furiously fretted leads and megaton chugs from guitarist Zachariah Mayfield. Mayfield’s mastery behind the fretboard gives songs like “Eclipse” and “Price Tag” a sharp edge without sacrificing Earth Groans’ penchant for blunt-force, brutish power. The line dividing the two is blurred on songs like the aforementioned “Eclipse” with an adrenaline-loaded ending, or the mile-per-minute “Driving Out,” which still stops to take the time needed to thoroughly oppress the listener’s sanity.

Earth Groans find the more passion-laden portions of their dynamic spilling forth from the throat of frontman Jeremy Schaeffer. Refusing to do anything with subtlety or tact, Schaeffer instead opts to rip right into the head of the listener using his gritty, raw mid-range yell and powerful lyrics as the only weapons he truly needs. From the start of “The Estate,” Schaeffer makes it abundantly clear his goal isn’t to be heavy music’s most technically immaculate frontman, but rather, to appeal to the humanistic elements of the music that serves as his soundscape. His sturdy roars and harsh, braying bellows tear through flesh and shred through sanity, hooking the listener from the first series of syllables he spits. Schaeffer’s distinctly passionate style and energetic, enthusiastic approach to delivering delicately written pieces of prose set Earth Groans apart even further from their peers–making both their music physically moving, but their songwriting and lyricism equally emotionally poignant.

Renovate, for all its rejuvenating and invigorating energy, may be ever-so-slightly a misnomer. Earth Groans don’t invent a genre much less do they reinvent metalcore or heavy music as a whole—their aims are more modest than that. Instead, they restore the listener’s love for punchy, catchy, crushing and creative riff-driven-yet-chug-friendly aggression. Laden with heaviness enough to send Mother Theresa spin-kicking or Gandhi throwing ‘bows, Renovate is natural, untainted and unaltered energy, infused with passion and experience enough to give it the sharp edges it needs to stay stuck in the listener’s ears. I’ll bet that before the likes of Renovate, you’d probably never heard of Earth Groans—but after it, you’ll wonder how you got into heavy music without them.



For Fans Of: InVoker, Rex, Norma Jean, Beacons

By: Connor Welsh