"Earth.Water.Sun" starts of very low-key with brief (very brief) ambient, untitled intro track. The calm before the storm. After a very short build-up, barely enough time for the listener to prepare for the onslaught, the band erupts into a pulsing, cymbal crashing, and discordant riff attack on the(almost) title track "Salt and Earth". Everything that is great about this release can be heard in this single song; excellent, razor sharp, discordant riffs, untouchable 1-2-1-2 blastbeat drumming, tasteful breakdowns for breathing room, and a vocalist that has one of the best voices I've heard, who can dish out both brutality and the memorable vocal patterns. I really should talk about the vocals more, because honestly they're one of my favorite things about this release. The delivery from vocalist, Grant Jones, is absolutely perfect for this band. It's a higher register, screechy scream. It reminds me of Jacob Bannon from Converge, if he has a little better enunciation. For the most part, he keeps this delivery throughout the release, occasionally going to a subtly different mid-range "growl" of sorts, but he knows just when to change it up to keep things interesting. He unfortunately is not in the band anymore, which is a real shame, since he really does fit the band perfectly.
Every song on this release is top notch, no bullshit here. Save for the questionable six second track, "The Audacity of You", there is absolutely no filler here. Clocking in at a mere 9 minutes, there really isn't enough time on here for AoA to fuck around. They only deliver their best, going right for the throat of the listener. I guess I should mention at this point though that AoA is not an average sounding grindcore band. Guitarist, Ben Andrews also belongs to the math rock band, My Disco. He keeps the same twangy, skronky, bright, crunching sounding guitar tone and riffs in AoA, but translates them into grind beautifully. I don't think he plays a single, ordinary chord throughout this entire record. Of course, comparisons to bands like Discordance Axis are unavoidable.
I really, truly, can't say anything band about "Earth.Water.Sun". It is a perfect serving of grindcore heaven, with everything being on point. Production, riffs, drums, vocals, energy, album length, everything. Yes, 9 minutes is an excellent length for a grind release. Grind bands should have no reason releasing a 30+ minute album, it overstays the welcome. I don't know what else I can say except listen to this record, listen to Agents of Abhorrence, and be sure not to miss them at Maryland Deathfest, and when they play in Brooklyn on May 29th with Needful Things (I'll be there, come on down!).