Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2011-02-28

Earth's first album since The Bees Made Honey in the Lions Skull further develops the sound Dylan Carlson started way back in the early 90s (releasing Extra Capsular Extraction in 1991). Much like the aforementioned 2008 album, however, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1 is a rather stunning collection and is pretty far away from anything approaching drone, doom or sludge-rock, styles some still associate with Carlson. This album also sees the addition of performer/composer Lori Goldston, adding her cello to Earth's heavy textures. Goldston is perhaps best known for playing on Nirvana's Unplugged in New York album and she brings that same air of sombre grace to proceedings here.

The album opens with the cinematic sprawl of 'Old Black' with Dylan's slow, Western-tinged riffs working their usual magic as Goldston's cello weaves itself through the tracks heavy yet graceful textures. It's an incredibly immersive experience; just listen to Goldston's cello slowly sliding its way through the sleep-heavy crawl of second piece 'Father Midnight'. This is music for late at night, for those deep in thought and those just wanting to get completely lost in sound. The album has more in common with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue than Earth's musical protégés Sunn0))), Boris and Om.

'Decent to the Zenith' sighs and smoulders it's way through just over seven minutes of slow, slumberous beauty. There's an almost lullaby-esque serenity to 'Decent to the Zenith' as its descending chords intertwine with Goldston's mournful cello. Much of Earth's distinctive sound is defined by Adrienne Davies' slow, methodical drumming and this latest offering is no exception; it's her pacing that makes this music so hypnotic. 'Hell's Winter' is distinctively less subdued with Dylan's snarling rock indebted riffs and Karl Blau's meaty bass yet it retains the albums slow, graceful power. It's probably my personal favourite on the album as it exhibits much that's great about Earth's music.

The album ends with the 20 minute title track 'Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light' leading us further into the night. The piece starts with an even more avant-garde jazz-esque feel than usual with cello and guitar creating a slow, intriguing drone and Davies' trademark drums nowhere to be seen. There's a few cymbal crashes around the four-minute mark before Davies' percussion gradually creeps in. Carlson's guitar sounds wonderful too as his notes vibrate and soar through the track's dense atmospherics.

Once again Earth have delivered an album of impressive musicianship and subtlety complex textures. Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1 draws you in for an incredibly involving hour of slow, meditative and thoroughly unique music. I mean who are Earth's contemporaries really? They really are in a field of their own, despite their obvious influence on many contemporary acts. For this reason it's hard to weigh this album up against Earth's previous efforts but suffice to say the quality has remained impressively high. It's a deeply atmospheric album; subtle, intoxicating and beautiful.

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