Sunday, 26 February 2012

Review: Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II

 Exhilarating! uplifting! adrenaline fueled! Filled with hooks! These are some of the many keywords that could never be used to describe Earth, the pioneers of the doom drone sub-genre. I first experienced them after none other than fellow out-of-the-ordinary music enthusiast Patrick posted a video link for Teeth of the Lions Rule the Divine from the Seattle quintet's debut Earth 2. The deceptive bastard put this link on my page writing above the video "Dig these phat beats yo." and of course, I played the song to check it out, only to be greeted by over twenty seven minutes of continuous repetitive riffs drenched in feedback and distortion. There were no phat beats. There were no drums. In many ways, the song sounded a little like the soundtrack of death and though it didn't feel quite as deathly and utterly bleak as when Sleep's Dopesmoker was casually posted on that same social networking site, the continuos guitar work just had the impression of slowly dragging it's listener into the depths of Hell. It was pretty good.

 Of course that was back in the mid-90's and since then, Earth have become a very different group, their 2005 comeback saw them reborn with a wider range of instruments including drums and musical influences. Of course to say that introducing more instruments and influences has made Earth's music more accessible is to say that my absolute inability to come up with a good "To say that..." joke and using this fact to stir laughs itself has given me a good sense of self-deprecatory humour. However, this addition of a wider variety of musical ideas has made the work of Earth a much more engaging and gripping prospect and this years sees the release of the second installment for last years Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light collection of songs, which continues to show the group being more mellow and less full-on. The songs are still guitar dominated and largely instrumental and played with an extreme lethargy, but it's with this that the group's immense atmospheric soundscapes manage to emerge. With it's simple arrangement of drawn out riffs, plodding basslines and cello backdrops, His Teeth Did Brightly Shine is filled with a mournful and desolate attitude. There is less drone found but rest-assured, Earth's sense of doom lives on strongly.
 And so, it goes without saying that this album is rooted in absolute bleakness and chaos. Listening to it does require a lot of focus and devotion and the thirteen minute epic Waltz (A Multiplicity of Doors) proves this with great ease. Seriously, cellos have got to be the most depressing instruments in the world. There is no way that it can possibly played in any way that would emit any sort of happiness or joy and it's really little wonder that the group have a full time cellist in the form of Lori Goldston because, something so depressing is essential for music so rooted in gloom as Earth is. Even the more swaggering closer The Rakehell doesn't really do anything to lift spirits even when Dylan Carson's riffs do manage to be effortlessly cool and rock n' roll at the time.
 So, if you're looking for something that's a little... grimmer than anything else I can only recommend checking out this album and in fact the entire Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light Collection. Earth are incredibly effective at creating music with a brooding atmosphere, where an emotional impact is made without the requirement for any lyrics. Absolute focus and attention is needed for these sluggish jams to reach their full impact and listening to it isn't designed to be any kind of easy task, but if you want to see epic soundscapes reach some kind of charming formation, then look here and see that Earth have managed to use  atmospheres of doom in a way as innovative and epic as possible.

 Earth's Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II is out now via Southern Lord Records. The band will tour the UK in March with Mount Eerie and O Paon.

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