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Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips CD (album) cover

FULL UPON HER BURNING LIPS

Earth

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.00 | 3 ratings

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TCat
3 stars The Experimental/Post Metal band 'Earth' has been influential for some time now, yet has mostly stayed under the radar among the public. As one of the bands that would impacted the drone rock sub-genre, they formed in the state of Washington in 1989 and named themselves after the original name for 'Black Sabbath'. They also influenced one of the most major drone rock bands now in existence, 'Sunn0)))' who named their own band after 'Earth's amplifiers and would also use those amplifiers in their own band.

Earth was originally founded by Dylan Carson, Slim Moon and Greg Babior. The band actually disbanded in 1997, then reformed in 2003. They have released 10 full length studio albums, 6 live albums, 2 compilations and 2 EPs. Their line up has changed a lot over the years, but since their reformation in 2005, the duo of founder Dylan Carson (guitars, bass) and Adrienne Davies (drums, percussion) has remained the core of the band and have often had several other musicians on various albums.

On their 10th full length studio album 'Full Upon Her Burning Lips', released in May of 2019, the complete line up consists only of the duo mentioned above. The album consists of 10 tracks and has a run-time of almost 63 minutes. Two of the tracks are over 10 minutes in length. Dylan Carson has always experimented with riff repetition. He structures interesting riffs and then builds soundscapes upon those riffs. On this album, the aim was to create a more basic sound which is why the band is stripped way back to its essentials.

'Datura's Crimson Veils' begins the album with a 12 minute track that begins with the ringing establishment of the main, slow riff, repeated by the guitar and some echoing effects. After a minute or so, the drums come in, slowly accompanying the guitar and bass, the instruments provide variations centered around the main riff and introduce other repeated passages. The drums don't just settle for the same repeated pattern either, but embellish as needed to keep things moving forward. The music rolls along at the same tempo throughout as the players concentrate on the basic sound of the riffs. The music is heavy, but it is still sparse. The tempo picks up for 'Exaltation of Larks' and the guitar has a more chiming texture to its sound. This shorter track also utilizes an airy effect under the guitar that gives it a more uplifting quality.

'Cats on the Briar' slows to a more blues style and features three ascending riffs played sequentially in 3 different registers before it settles into a melodic riff and then as the track goes on, the music alternates between these patterns. The minor pentatonic scale used gives it a somewhat Native American sound. 'The Colour of Poison' has a glitchy, start/stop style that gives the track a hesitant feel. Later, a heavy riff makes the track flow smoother, but it returns occasionally to that glitchy sound and the track alternates back and forth between start/stop passages and smooth passages. 'Descending Belladonna' uses a descending riff followed by short bass patterns. Between these patterns, short rhythmless drones screech until the drums bring back the guitar riff. Later, the slow beat settles in as the guitar continues to create riffs with slight variations.

Next is another long track at over 11 minutes called 'She Rides an Air of Malevolence'. By this point in the album, it can be starting to get to sound monotonous as the usually slow tempos persist from one track to another. The slow, repetitive passages persist, as they do in this track, but the two longer tracks do allow for more variation of the riff themes. Since most changes here are subtle, it can be hard to hear much in the way of variation and dynamic, but again, the desire to concentrate on riffs and repetition was the aim of this album, and they definitely fulfill that desire. Like the long first track, this one doesn't change any in tempo, but provides more of a melodic guitar line as there is time for more development in that sense. But it does get harder and harder to sit through without the inclusion of other things to support the music or make it more dynamic. As it nears the end, there is a slight layer of feedback that causes dissonance in the main riff.

'Maiden's Catafalque' is a comparatively short, meandering track that really never materializes into any structure, but the slow, threatening vibe is still there. 'An Unnatural Carousel' brings back the structured feel and has a thicker sound thanks to the use of layered guitar. Repetition is still the key however. 'The Mandrake's Hymn' continues with the thicker sense that the previous track has, but with occasional feedback and more of a drone quality to it. 'A Wretched Country of Dusk' features a more melodic based riff which is echoed in tandem by bass. The continued slow beat and repetitive phrases with slight variations continues.

I understand the reasoning behind creating this album and the need to strip back the music to the basics, but an entire album of the slow tempos and minimal variation on riffs can be tough to sit through. I enjoyed the first half of the album the best, but by the time the 2nd half comes along, the sound starts to drag along. The track 'The Colour of Poison' stands out the most because of it's quirky and off kilter rhythmic patterns and tricky guitar passages, but even it resorts to alternating between this and a smoother melodic line similar to other tracks. Anyway, the main issue here is persisting beyond the first half of the album. The music does have that droning quality, but not in the way you expect, and quite honestly, I would have liked to have heard some experimentation with sustained notes mixed in with the better tracks because at least it would have given the album another level, but that wasn't the intent of this album nor the band, and while they succeed in achieving their intent, it unfortunately doesn't make it more interesting in doing so. 3 stars.

TCat | 3/5 |

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