EARTH – PRIMITIVE AND DEADLY – A REVIEW
The evolution of a band is sometimes rather subtle. The synthesis of influence and the progression of skill is, for the most part, abruptly prominent over the course of a handful of albums. This being said, Seattle-based Earth has proven that this isn’t always the case. Listening to their eighth album “Primitive and Deadly” conjures many questions. Where did this come from? Is this the same band? And, most importantly, why did they decide to release their opus now?
In their early years, Earth were a drone band through and through; resulting in many almost unlistenable albums, and the creation of “Earth 2” which is widely considered to be the finest example of drone music ever recorded. After a six year hiatus spawned due to Dylan Carlson’s ongoing and well-documented personal issues, Earth returned with a more brooding and immense sound inspired by classic country artists, Ennio Morricone, and post-rock. After a series of albums, including 2012’s masterful two-part “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light,” Earth come back swinging for the fences with “Primitive and Deadly.”
Though very much an Earth album, “Primitive and Deadly” features a multitude of creative textures that have been absent in their discography that makes you wonder how different their previous albums would have been. Featuring a sonic thunder that has been tested since “Hex: Or Printing The Infernal Method,” the cohesion of Earth’s current lineup has never been so tight. Randall Dunn’s keyboard proficiency is accented perfectly with Carlson’s winey-yet-weighty guitar fills, and leveled effortlessly with second guitarist Brett Nelson’s thunderous undertones. Adding Adrienne Davies cymbal-heavy drum sledging and Bill Herzog’s fuzzy and tense bass only adds to the atmospheric high featured from start to finish. The chugging, yet endearing instrumental opener “Torn by the Fox on the Crescent Moon” is the heaviest track the band have crafted since their formation, and yet it doesn’t seem like a band trying to be sonically overwhelming anymore. From there, the harmonics featured on the second instrumental track “Even Hell has Its Heroes” are completely unexpected. At its core a blues track, the song’s abundant feedback serves merely as a backdrop as the rest of the band swings in and takes control.
An interesting addition to this album are two separate vocalists. The first, and most notable, is former Screaming Tree’s front man Mark Lanegan who, despite releasing a wide range of solo albums and collaborative efforts since the Screaming Trees broke up, has never felt more at home on an album than he does on “Primitive and Deadly.” His post-apocalyptic soothsaying on “There Is a Serpent Coming” needs his whisky-drowned growl for it to be taken seriously, and is clearly the most significant experiment the album has to offer. Rose Windows’ Rabia Shaheen Qazi’s fierce vocals on the album’s 11 minute centerpiece “From the Zodiacal Light” takes the band into a higher level of instrumental nirvana that has never been tested by the band before. The minimal and relatively eerie closer, “Rooks Across The Gate” offers an album-wide retrospective of a band that, despite an abrupt change in skill and cohesion, are an incredible force in the music world that have finally looked beyond the abyss of yesteryear.
ALBUM RATING: A (MANDATORY)
Meet Chris Ricci
I’m a Salem-based writer with a flair for visual arts and all things music. I’ve been working diligently at Salem State University to further my education and have served as the Managing Editor for North Shore Art*Throb for over a year.
I’ve been a very big fan of wordplay for as long as I can remember, and part of that is easily attributed to the eclectic array of music I grew up listening to. Artists like Talking Heads, David Bowie, R.E.M., and Lou Reed were on heavy rotation while I was younger, and their bizarre and (at times) playful lyrics sparked a love for writing that continues today.
The only thing I love more than listening to music is sharing it with others, and I hope that some of my reviews help some people expand their musical horizons and get over the whole “there’s no good new music” cliché. Some personal favorite artists include Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits, Scott Walker, Beck, and Animal Collective.