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Earth - Primitive And Deadly CD (album) cover

PRIMITIVE AND DEADLY

Earth

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.03 | 10 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Orange skies, desolate hours

Bands from the western expanses of America often have a detectible whiff of defiance and freedom to their sound. Earth are based in Seattle but I've little doubt its members take inspiration from wide open deserts and lonely highways-and in fact this album was partially recorded near Joshua Tree. And while it just came out in the autumn of 2014 it could easily fool listeners into believing this was some lost psych-doom-Kraut sludgerocker from the autumn of 1971.

While the band have been around for nearly 25 years at this point they have experienced a re-birth in the last ten, and there is little doubt this album is one of their most ambitious and intriguing. Sounding like a band with renewed energy and vitality, Earth have an ominous doom-laden undercurrent that screams early Sabbath but with a much less "metallic" veneer. Indeed this is not metal, or not what I think of as metal, although it could be classified under metal's umbrella. This is heavy droning stoner rock that is quite similar to New Mexico's Spiral in post-apocalyptic feel, but with much more emphasis on guitar and somewhat less on vocals. Here the songs trudge off slowly into the abyss with a plodding, marching pace, there is never any speed to the tempo. Think perhaps Bill Ward at half speed leading ten-minute explorations of massive doomy chord changes and meandering tripped out psych guitar. They do an amazing job of infusing ominous atmosphere every second of the ride. Progressive rock fans may be aware that the band's leader Dylan Carlson has stated Robert Fripp is the reason he ever picked up a guitar. While there is not obvious Crimson influence in the Earth sound, I think that the control and carefully measured dosage of Carlson's guitar work shows he takes something about dynamics from Frippian philosophy.

Three of the tracks feature some vocals with guests: former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan on two and Rose Windows singer Rabia Shaheen Qazi on another. Both are very effective in navigating the sonic heaviness and tortured unease that the long, writhing compositions require. The lyrics are dark and poetic, working quite well with the music. In the most entertaining way Earth's songs are compact little soundtracks to an adventure that could be played in your mind, or, as perfect road music for a real adventure in your life. They never much venture out of their creeping paced heaviness, which could be constricting if such an approach is not your thing. However the quality of the songs and the mastery of the funeral like rhythms married to twisting, distorted, heavy guitar work make this an experience that will thrill many. Upon release of the album the band stated they wanted to allow themselves to be a rock band and approach some traditional pop structures this time out. While this album is certainly accessible to anyone who picks it up, worry not. Earth's vision is as deliciously desolate and enjoyable as their fans expect.

Highly recommended for fans of heavy psych, desert-born sludge, slow doom-metal, and serpent-like excursions. The album is available in a gorgeous gatefold double vinyl spread and the band is currently on tour for those who love live music. 7/10

Finnforest | 3/5 |

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