Fayetteville, Arkansas' Bones of the Earth bring sludge metal back to its roots of one part hardcore, one part doom (think Neurosis, Melvins, Acid Bath, etc), but they know how to branch out from that and incorporate post-rock, psychedelia, and more too. They released their debut album I. The Imminent Decline Of Human Spirit in 2019, and they're now putting out its followup/sequel II. Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown on April 2 via self-release (pre-order). Both albums revolve around the same ongoing concept, as the album description explains:

I. The Imminent Decline Of Human Spirit is the first part of a continuing story, detailing a set of events that takes place in one of the many cycles that govern this universe. Each cycle begins with organic life, ends with artificial life, and is doomed to repeat again and again.

A prehistoric human finds himself being pulled to an ancient relic, buried deep underground. After unearthing this strange beacon he unwittingly sets in motion the start of the artificial cycle, and all organic life begins to wither away and die… all except for him. He slowly loses what makes him organic: feeling, emotion, self awareness, human spirit. He wears the relic as a crown. It speaks to him, and instructs him how to build this new world. As everything and everyone he knows fades away and is replaced by slate obelisks and steel cabling from within the core of the planet, he commands an army of machines to build a great spire, and sits atop it on his throne, looking out at a cold dead world.

II. Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown picks up where the previous album left off. The crown is fused to the protagonist’s skull and he has lost all of his humanity. He now exists purely as a vessel for the relic, to oversee this new age of machines. The machines fuel their construction with organic material, and work in an exceedingly efficient fashion. The relic revels in this creation and basks in its own glory: it has yet again created a perfect world. However, the protagonist starts to regain feeling and emotion. He questions the relic’s intentions for the first time in a very, very long time. Now aware that he is being controlled by the relic, he attempts to sever the connection between himself and the crown, and reclaim his human spirit by feeding the crown to the very machine it created, and plunging it back into the center of the earth to perhaps one day be found again…

Bones of the Earth recently released lead single "Peaceseeker" and we're now premiering second single "The Empire Never Ended." The band tells us how this one fits into their discography's ongoing saga: "'The Empire Never Ended' is part of a saga that explores the cyclical nature between organic and artificial life in the fictional universe we have created. Writing with an overarching plot in mind, and allowing the music to decide the depth and length of the story has led to a dynamic collection of songs that transition from gentle to crushing, and depressive to triumphant. This song is the apex of those transitions, both instrumentally and thematically."

"Peaceseeker" found the band showing off their psychedelic side at punk speed (think Baroness' Blue Record, Kylesa's Spiral Shadow, etc), whereas the eight-minute "The Empire Never Ended" slows things down for the kind of climactic post-rock buildup that recalls Albini-era Neurosis. Both are very cool in their own ways, and you can hear both below.

Tracklist
1. Decline
2. Machine Rising
3. Peaceseeker
4. Inoperable
5. The Empire Never Ended
6. Reclamation