Night Parade of One Hundred Demons by EarthlessRelease date: January 28, 2022
Label: Nuclear Blast
Whenever I put an album on, I want to have feelings of excitement, pure energy, challenging textures, and something that will be with me for the rest of time. Whether it’s Rosalie Cunningham, Schooltree, Blood Ceremony, Jess and the Ancient Ones, or Voivod, the music stays with you, forever and ever.
But when it comes to San Diego band Earthless, that’s where the fire starts to erupt. Launched back in 2001, Earthless are a trio that consists guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton, and drummer Mario Rubalcaba. Their music is so powerful, you get the vibrations between the Moontan-era of Golden Earring, Ash Ra Tempel, Eloy, Flied Egg, and Guru Guru’s U.F.O. album.
I remember first hearing their music after hearing samples of their 2018 release Black Heaven, and then buying it on The Laser’s Edge website I believe. And then I had completely forgotten about them. Until now.
Their latest release on the Nuclear Blast label entitled, Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, is an imaginative horror film being brought to life. Known as “Hyakki Yagyō (百鬼夜行)”, it describes an idiom in Japanese folk tales.
But sometimes it’s can be an orderly cortege, a rampage, it also means a formality of these paranormal creatures known as Oni (鬼おに) or a Yōkai (妖怪, “strange apparition“) who march down the streets of Japan at night. It was also inspired by Mike’s son who is into these mystic stories on ghosts and monsters.
So what Earthless had done on their new album is to bring the themes of the ghostly imagery come to life. You can imagine people hiding and hearing the chaos that’s going on throughout their little town. They don’t have to see it, but understanding that the unknown are these invaders you stay away from.
While Black Heaven had shorter compositions, Night Parade’s two-part suite clocks in at 19 and 22 minutes. So 41 minutes of a scary ritual, is quite terrifying with unbelievable results.
So, in the words of Laurence Tierney from the movie Reservoir Dogs, “All right ramblers, let’s get ramblin’.” From the moment the first part of the title-track begins to take off, we go into this magical landscape with deserted atmospheres filling the void with Mitchell setting up these boundaries for what is about to happen after the first six minutes and forty-four seconds.
After that beautiful scenery, all hell breaks loose. The trio have burst those doors down so hard with their giant battering ram by letting the supernatural attack the village. There are several aspects of this galloping rhythm sequence that both Mike and Mario create.
I can compare it to Golden Earring’s ‘Are You Receiving Me?’ You have Mitchell making his guitar sound like a monstrous wolf howling at the moon with his late ‘60s/early ‘70s vibration that screams both the Ohr and the swirling Vertigo label from its golden era.
But in the last five minutes of part one, they dive back into the water for this epic battle in the style of unsung prog legends, Fantasy’s 1974 debut album Paint a Picture, channeling ‘Politely Insane.’ While the creatures are causing havoc, the trio follows it up by giving listeners a real good scare by transforming this image into a gruesome aftermath.
You can hear Eloy’s Inside-era thrown into the mix while bringing down the hammer for the second and final part of the suite as Mario sets up these taiko-like textures on his kit to make the wind howl like crazy! There’s a strong sense of an alternate score to the 1962 cult classic, Carnival of Souls.
You get this feeling that somebody’s watching you, somebody wants to take your own life, and there’s no escape from it. Meanwhile, Mitchell goes in for the attack as he bends those strings on the fretboard by laying down some menacing improvisations channeling Manuel Gottsching.
While it makes a reprise of the final section of the first act, it’s the extended aftermath that will haunt the villagers for the rest of their lives. The closing piece, ‘Death to the Red Sun’ clocks in at 20 minutes!
Earthless have enough energy juice to bring enough thunder by making their walk home to the Bay Area. If you think they’re done, guess again. There’s a lot of volcanic vibes that just come at you as Mitchell goes in for some garage rock riffs at times, but heads back into the Motorpsycho arrangements to make his engines revved up and go at this full throttling speed. But what is this? It suddenly changes into a dooming approach of Rush’s ‘2112 Overture’ and ‘Grand Finale’ by making the jump to light speed.
I’m not kidding! They really take it up a notch to show a bit of appreciation for the masters of progressive metal, letting them know, their legacy still carries on. Night Parade of One Hundred Demons is Earthless’ eruptive powder keg.
They brought horror, folk tales, and ominous spaced-out rockin’ voyages like there’s no tomorrow! It is a knife-cutting punch.