Primitive And Deadly
01.08.2015 | Selected by Bjorn (aka Player 6)
It's a little weird to say that I've been following a band for 20 years, but it's really the truth for Earth. As a "band" whose history is inexorably tangled with the saga of loud music from the Pacific Northwest, it's surprising that the attention given them has been as sparse as their compositions, but they are widely regarded as a pioneer of drone metal by enthusiasts. I was introduced to Earth when their first disc, Extra-Capsular Extraction, was played at thunderous volume as an alarm clock at a house I was staying at in Olympia in 1993. I immediately became obsessed, picking up a copy of the cardboard-sleeve CD at the next available opportunity. A year later, when Kurt Cobain died, it was revealed that Earth's founder Dylan Carlson bought the gun, and maybe was the last person to see him alive. In fact, Kurt had provided the only vocals of any Earth track up until this album. As time passed, Earth's releases became less frequent, and after a 9-year break, Dylan had sobered up and written an album's worth of songs in a different mode, diminishing distortion and adding clean sounds to the drones for which they were known. I'm looking forward to finally listening to Primitive And Deadly, especially so given appearances by Mark Lanegan and Brett Netson (Built To Spill).
Coming at this without actually hearing it or reading any reviews, I was pleasantly surprised to find a return to at least some of the distorted, heavy history of one of modern drone's pioneers. Primitive and Deadly's title hints at the return to the band's roots, as it were, but there is still much of the quieter, less distorted nuances hidden under the big guitar tone, in some ways reminiscent of the combination of their second and third releases, between which the band switched from the heavy, massive wall-of-distortion to a heavy, massive wall-of-clean-tone. As Southern Lord's promo said of the new recording: "For the first time in their diverse second act, they allow themselves to be a rock band, freed of adornment and embellishment." Indeed, the album seems to bring the band full circle, especially when listening to their seminal track, "Ouruboros is Broken," from their first release. Using differing guitar tones and progressions, the group keeps great separation, and uses unusual keys (at least for the tired doom and drone genres) that aren't necessarily immediately "doomy". The vocals by Mark Lanegan on "There Is A Serpent Coming" make the band almost sound sensible as a modern rock outfit...except for the 8-minute track length. Overall, the fanstastic departure is an exciting arrival, and I'm looking forward to continued listening.