By Avery Dart

Croak is set to be released April 19th, 2022. Please visit here for pre-orders and to stream the first single.

Escaping Aghartha started out as a one-man band, but recently I’ve begun recruiting help from musician friends from around the world to actualize the full potential of the music I write. Similarly to conservation efforts, a team of people with diverse backgrounds and skills can make something far more impressive when working in unison than any one person alone.

When I start brainstorming ideas for an album theme, I consider a few factors – is the topic relatively obscure in popular culture, how much lyrical material can be crafted from the main album theme, and how severe is the environmental issue. The ongoing amphibian extinction checked all these boxes. For the album Croak, some of the song themes are very straightforward. The song Chytrid is about the chytrid invasion plaguing amphibians around the world, while Consuming Drought is about how amphibians are disproportionately impacted by climate change compared to other animals due to their reliance on water for breeding. The two songs Perpetual Decline – I and Into Extinction – II are a bit more abstract in theme. The two tracks symbolize how extinction events, climate change, and habitat loss usually happen rather slowly relative to our human lifetimes. These events can take decades to fully develop into the full-blown emergencies that they currently are. Perpetual Decline – I starts with a hopeful mood, and a repetitive guitar riff is present throughout the song. But as the other instruments come in, it slowly becomes more dire and more desperate in mood, transitioning seamlessly to Into Extinction – II which is harsh, grating, and bleak.

Through this experimental song structure, I aim to show people how it’s important to take action early when it comes to environmental issues. It’s easy for things to slowly change, almost imperceptibly, until you stop and think “How did the situation become so severe and dire? Why, in the 11th hour, are we only starting to care about an issue now that it’s almost beyond help?” The last song is Croak, which is also the title of the album. In English, the word croak can refer to either somebody dying (they croaked) or the noise which frogs/toads make (the frogs were croaking). Croak explores biological concepts such as how amphibians are indicator species and how their declines signify that the overarching environmental health of our planet is poor. Our ecosystems are croaking and change to slow or prevent further ecosystem deterioration is urgent.

I chose the IUCN SSC ASG as the recipient of the sales from Croak for two reasons. First, their surveys of amphibian species, especially in relatively remote and poorly-surveyed areas are of great value. It’s impossible to conserve a species if it’s undescribed to science and it’s equally impossible if there are no basic data. Secondly, the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) lays out a clear route for conservation efforts. Recently, I learned that the ACAP is being updated to be more user-friendly and that the ASG is planning to launch an open consultation process for the first part of ACAP, a status review of current knowledge. I applaud these changes as it’s critical for scientific information to be accessible and easily understood by people of all backgrounds. As a scientist, I’m greatly impressed by the comprehensive and impactful approach that the ASG has taken. For these reasons I’ve decided to donate all the profits in the first month to the ASG.

Croak is set to be released April 19th, 2022. Please visit here for pre-orders and to stream the first single.