Downfall of Gaia is an extreme metal band from Germany whose roster includes members from Berlin, Hamburg, and New York City.
Their sound combines elements of crustpunk, doom, sludge, and atmospheric post-black metal. From their earliest independently released demos -- 2008's The Downfall of Gaia and 2009's Salvation in Darkness -- through later albums for Metal Blade -- 2012's Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes and 2016's Atrophy -- their crunch & roll aesthetic offers jagged, raw, twin-tremolo-picked guitars, dissonance, blastbeats, uncharacteristically upmixed bass, and barely discernible screamed and growled vocals. These are offset by a heavily atmospheric production standard. This standard shifted in the 2010s, as evidenced by 2014's Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay. While they kept the crustpunk and post-metal influences, they also embraced experimentation and sludge-infused black metal and progressive elements. Their 2019 offering, Ethic of Radical Finitude, is an excellent showcase for their "more is more" M.O. as layers of scripted tension in their songs resulted in explosive attacks of hostility, menace, and waves of grief.
The band was formed in Berlin in 2008 by Dominik Goncalves Dos Reis (vocals, guitar) and Anton Lisovoj (vocals, bass). The pair had known each other for a few years and started writing music -- heavily influenced by crustpunk and screamo -- in 2006. More than likely, this was because they were still learning how to play together. As their musicianship improved, their vision grew more ambitious. They began writing longer, episodic jams and chose their name from Greek mythology. The lineup was fleshed out by guitarist Peter Wolff and drummer Sven and they issued their self-titled demo in 2008. It was well-received by the underground metal press for its jarring juxtaposition of styles. 2009's Salvation in Darkness remained rooted in the earlier styles, but Downfall of Gaia began to shift with their 2010 self-titled split with Kazan (that featured new drummer Johannes Stoltenburg); each band delivered four tracks. That same year, the band issued their own full-length for Shove Records in a limited edition of 500 copies that sold out almost instantly. Several reviewers of the time thought it signaled a formal retrenchment toward neocrust and screamo, but it also held several moments of a more atmospheric blackened sound that would emerge more prominently later.
Downfall of Gaia signed to Metal Blade for 2012's Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes. While they retained many of their neo-crust traits, black metal revealed itself as a growing influence in the use of blastbeats and atmospherics. 2014's Aeon Unveils the Thrones of Decay dove decidedly deeper into the black metal pool with its long intros, maniacal drumming (courtesy of drummer Mike Kadnar who replaced Stoltenburg), haunted dynamics and savage guitar and vocal attacks. It was the band's final album with Wolff, who decided he didn't like the road much. He was replaced in 2016 by Marco Mazzola in time for the recording of Atrophy, an album that showcased a much bleaker sound due to jarring shifts in tempo and dynamics in songs that were much longer. After touring the European festival circuit for more than a year, the band took some time off to write and refocus. They re-emerged in 2019 with Ethic of Radical Finitude, a six-track exercise in dark, brooding, melodic heaviness and aggression. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi