“The Earth Fell Away” the second full length album from California based CARVED INTO THE SUN is not only a great addition to the instrumental post rock pantheon, but a mind-altering voyage through the journey of loss, grief and healing. Growing more concept-conscious within their sound, Carved Into The Sun sounds like a truly genre-defying band. Introspective, self-assured and wonderful. It should end up in many end of the year wrap-ups with a ‘one of the best post rock records of 2022’ badge. To give it a nod, we have teamed up with the band to give you some more details about the album and dive into each and every track from this impressive opus.
“Music often tends to tell stories; it is indeed one of the most powerful ways to do it, and it must be said right away that ‘The Earth Fell Away’ tells the story of a man’s journey through loss, grief and ultimately healing. This album was written by frontman Eric Reifinger during the pandemic, when his brother, Brandon, unexpectedly passed away. Brandon and Eric had as close a bond as brothers can have, and so Brandon’s sudden passing had a devastating effect on Eric.” – comments Ronnie from WherePostRockDwells.
“Echoes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Russian Circles and Sigur Ros can be heard in the maze of the identity of these songs. The framework of this record is pure instrumental beauty with wide-ranging post-rock passages and post-metal accelerations, sporadically winking at melodic death-metal, in an ethereal combination of wonderful compositions with pulsating rhythms.”
“The highlights of ‘The Earth Fell Away’ are undoubtedly the atmosphere created, myriad emotional nuances embraced, phenomenal songwriting, and impressive musicianship to express that writing process. However, a fundamental ingredient of a great album is perhaps equally the production, because even the best ideas could not shine without a sound sector worthy of this name. In this sense, the drums, entirely programmed by Eric himself in Logic Pro X, are so incredibly sound and expressive that they seem absolutely real. The record was mixed by Beau Burchell, guitarist and sound engineer of the post-hardcore group Saosin, and mastered by Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna. The result of this synergy of people, 2⁄3 of whom had previously collaborated on the first Carved Into the Sun album, combined with Eric’s talent and creative urgency, resulted in a very powerful and timeless record with an exceptional sound.”
𝐶𝑎𝑟𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝐼𝑛𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑆𝑢𝑛 𝑝𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠 𝑛𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑓𝑢𝑙 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑘𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑛𝑒𝑙 𝑔𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑓, 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑣𝑜𝑘𝑒 𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛, 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑎𝑙𝑠𝑜 𝑒𝑥𝑢𝑑𝑒 ℎ𝑜𝑝𝑒.
“I wrote this album over the last 2.5 years in the wake of my brother’s passing.” – comments CITS’s Eric Reifinger. “He was four years younger than me (29 years old when he passed) and we were extremely close, so this has really been a difficult thing for me to deal with. My brother was also the most talented musician I’ve ever known–a truly incredible guitarist in melodic death metal bands, as well as a self-taught pianist who could outplay many friends and family members who’ve taken lessons and practiced consistently for decades–so music has been a way for me to try to sort through my grief, as well as a way for me to connect to my brother in some sense.”
Each track (and each track title) on The Earth Fell Away represents a specific memory or event related to Eric’s brother’s passing, or his grieving process.
Asked about his musical inspirations for this release, Eric says that even though he has always turned to music when he needs to sort through emotions, he intentionally avoided listening to other people’s music while he wrote this album.
“This was partly because I often couldn’t find the motivation to do anything, even if it was simply turning music on on Spotify. But mainly, I guess I recognized that when I couldn’t find it in myself to do anything else, I could at least pick up my guitar and express how I felt in that way. So I wanted these songs to be a real distillation of where I was emotionally at this time, and also to completely embrace my grief on my own, in honor of my brother and also for my own sake. In other words, no recent post-rock or post-metal releases inspired these songs in any way… but of course, my writing was still very much influenced by the bands/albums that I have loved over my life.”
So once this album was written, Eric spent some time listening to his own songs and thinking about where various ideas may have come from. This playlist is what he came up with. Those are the influences you can hear in the various parts of his songs.
The Earth Fell Away picks up where the band left off on their 2020 self-titled album, attempting to channel some of Eric’s favorite bands and inspirations (Russian Circles, GY!BE, Sigur Rós, Grails, Caspian, ISIS, Yndi Halda, O’Brother, and lots of others) while hopefully creating something unique.
“However, because of the life changing event that took place for me as the S/T was being mixed, this new record has a much different and more central theme.” – admits Eric. “The opening track was a work in progress before my brother passed away. Otherwise, the rest of the songs were written during the most difficult period of my life, as I battled through severe grief and depression.”
To me, this opening track represents the period of my life that happened before my brother passed. The song title comes from Aristotle and basically means “stable disposition.” There was the version of me that existed before Brandon died, and then there’s the version of me that I am now. I feel like I was a lot more emotionally stable before, and I think the structure and overall feeling of this song are indicative of that. There are still dark, melancholic and heavy moments in the song, but I see “Hexis” as more uplifting and hopeful than what’s to come.
May 25, 2020 was the date of my brother’s death, and to me, this song portrays the mental and emotional cloud that I was in for a long time after that date. It took the better part of a year for my brain to even accept my new reality.
My brother, Gabriel, plays the piano throughout the track and that’s meant to honor Brandon, who was easily the most talented musician (guitarist and pianist) I’ve ever known personally.
3. The Earth Fell Away On Every Side
This track title comes from Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” like the titles of the four songs on our S/T album. The chord progression and lead guitars in the first section are the first things that I wrote after I flew home to California from Tennessee in June 2020, and are more or less what made me decide to channel my grief directly into music.
Within the overall theme of the album, this song represents the moment when my dad told me over the phone that my brother is no longer with us. It’s my entire world crashing down on itself. The song’s volatility (heavy in one moment, quieter the next, somewhat frenetic, then heavy again, and so on) is meant to represent my emotional state for the many months after Brandon’s death.
Inverness is the name of a street on Signal Mountain in Tennessee, where most of my family lives. In the fog of the day of Brandon’s funeral, this street sign is something that stuck out to me, for whatever reason. To me, this song represents the drive from the funeral back to my dad’s house.
5. Even As A Dream
The title of this track comes from “Herakles” by Euripides, where Megara calls out to her husband, “Come back. Even as a shadow, even as a dream.” I’ve only had a few dreams of Brandon since he passed away, but I’ve cherished those dreams because they’re the only place where I can be with my brother in any sense. The more ambient middle section of this song is meant to represent one of those dreams and my desperation to be with my brother again in any way possible.
The inclusion of Bernard Albertson’s spoken word sample ties in with the song’s theme in a few ways. Albertson passed away a month or so after Brandon did. His story also reminded me of Brandon, and his overall message was powerful and meaningful to me during one of many desperate late nights in 2021.
6. The Other Side of Despair
This song title comes from Jean-Paul Sartre, who said that “life begins on the other side of despair.” The song is centered around three main guitar riffs and to me, the slower, pulsing pace and repetition of those few riffs throughout the song symbolize how I was getting used to the idea that I’ll never see my brother again, and could focus on almost nothing else for a long time. The song goes from slow and meditative to somewhat more upbeat, to heavy, to more ambient, back to meditative, to crushing, and ends with clean chords, all with the same three riffs serving as the foundation of the entire 10.5 minute song.
7. Through My Screams the Wind Still Whispers
I wrote half of this song on my brother’s old acoustic guitar, in my dad’s house during the days leading up to the funeral. After I’d come up with the main chord progression and general idea, I hiked some of the trails that Brandon used to hike on Signal Mountain in Tennessee, and basically wrote how I wanted the finished song to sound in my head. Honestly, listening to this song is devastating for me just about every time. It really transports me to the time when I was writing it and some of the rawest, most suffocating emotions I’ve ever felt.
This track title is also from Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” (“into the shoreless void” is the actual quote) and the song’s opening riff first appears in “Even As A Dream.” The majority of the songs on this album flow/overlap from one to the next, which is meant to represent the many overlapping emotions that I’ve felt while grieving. Somewhat similarly, my idea for this song was to expand on an idea from earlier in the album in a very different way. Parts of this song sound to me less like post-rock and more like melodic death metal, which is the genre of music that Brandon played primarily.
The spoken word sample in the middle of the song is from Kevin Radaker’s performance of part of “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. The words are about Lewis’ anger with God after his wife had passed away.
9. Chasing the Rain
The title of this song is from a song that I originally thought would be part of our S/T album, but that I’ve never finished. I was calling that old/unfinished song “Clothed In Smoke, Chasing the Rain” and Brandon told me it was his favorite thing that I’d written.
This new “Chasing the Rain” starts with guitar riffs and a drum rhythm that appear first in “Shoreless,” and finishes with the last riffs that I wrote for the album. I finished writing, guitar tracking and drum programming in May 2022, and while I still miss my brother every day, I am in a better place than I was two years ago. The atmosphere of this song is meant to reflect that.
On the other hand, the tapping riff that closes the song (and album) is a sort of reformulation of the intro riff to “Hexis.” My intention was to make the end of the album tie back in with the beginning because really, while I’m less constantly overwhelmed by grief these days, it only takes the smallest thing to remind me of Brandon for no real reason, and then I’ll instantly be spiraling through everything else that this album represents.
I put everything into this record. Between May 2020 and May 2022, there were so many days and nights when I felt like my life was over. Like I would never come out of this cloud. Fortunately, my wife, kids, dad, siblings and a couple friends were there for me during that time, whether it was through being there physically or emotionally, or by giving me the space I needed to work through everything by writing this album.
Find Carved Into The Sun and more timeless post rock tracks on our mega playlist on Spotify. Sub HERE, shuffle play and get inspired!