As a member of both Immortal Bird and Thrawsunblat, Rae Amitay is already involved in two underground bands that push at the boundaries of genre. The latter’s exploration of expansive folk metal, and the former’s foundation of sludge and crust, provides starting points for sounds that defy convention whilst still broadly belonging to set genres. Yet with her solo project Errant, Amitay moves freely between black metal, rock, thrash, doom, and practically any other heavy guitar-based style she wishes in a manner that defies easy categorisation, whilst delving into personal lyrical themes. Musically progressive and inherently emotional, Errant is an exploration of self-loathing, doubt, and a search for a sense of self and place in a shifting world.
Each of the four tracks on the EP are vastly different from one another, yet Amitay’s personality ensures they all work together as a unified whole. Opener ‘The Amorphic Burden’ begins in an unsettling manner, with a throbbing bassline giving way to progressive thrash riffs and a sense of disquiet. Second track ‘A Vacillant Breath’ is the most immediate and distinctive of the three original songs here, with ethereal vocals during the opening verse floating above shimmering guitar movements, as beautiful as they are ominous. As the song progresses it becomes increasingly heavy and overly dark, with the kind of emotional soul-searching and self-doubt that isn’t far removed from Amitay’s almost former band Wood of Ypres, even though the sound is quite different. ‘Oneirodynia’, despite being the shortest song here, is the one that moves at the slowest pace, with its crawling, doom tempo and twisting melodies resulting in something quite uncomfortable. Closing the EP is a cover of ‘Saturday Saviour’ by alt-rock band Failure. It plays it straight, sticking resolutely to the original version, yet Amitay’s personality and charisma ensure that it feels like a fitting end to the EP; very different in sound from what has gone before, but the mood and emotional tone is absolutely in keeping with the EP.
As successful and enjoyable as Errant definitely is, it’s also hard to shake the feeling that it would be better if given a bit more time and space to explore its different musical ideas – though that is, to some extent, something inherent in all EPs when the music is so genre-defying. There’s a lot of different styles going on in these songs, and though they mesh well enough here, it feels like another twenty or more minutes would give them the opportunity to make an even stronger impact. Which is another way of saying: the EP is good, but I expect an album would be great.
Errant is released 3rd April via Manatee Rampage Recordings and can be purchased here.
Words: Stuart Wain