Earth - Primitive and Deadly - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Earth - Primitive and Deadly

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2014-09-01

Dylan Carlson has been pretty busy recently; recording the soundtrack to Thomas Arslan’s Western Gold, collaborating with eclectic dub artist The Bug, releasing tantalisingly limited 7in records and continuing to work on his highly anticipated solo album.

Go back a few years and you’ll find Earth's Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light albums and a particularly beautiful Latitudes Session under his Drcarlsonalbion moniker. This prolific approach stems back to a time of illness for Carlson and a desire to record as much music as he felt he could. It’s an approach that’s led to some stunning music and a reinvigorating of his brainchild, Earth.  

Primitive & Deadly stands as Earth’s 10th studio album. The album retains those unmistakable hallmarks that come with each Earth record: the slow, heavy pace of Adrianna Davies’ drums and Carlson’s distinctive guitar tones. Yet beyond these core elements, Primitive & Deadly is clearly the sound of a band evolving, a band still utterly immersed in the creative process.

Despite expecting a somewhat heavier sound, the brutal chug of ‘Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon’ is still a jolt to the system. Carlson’s playing hasn’t been this heavy, this riff-orientated, since the band's earliest recordings. For those new to the fold, that means thick, sludge-like riffs on repeat as played by the bastard lovechild of Black Sabbath and The Melvins. Yet it doesn’t feel at all like a throw-back; there’s a complexity and depth of sound here that builds on the material's roots.

‘There is a Serpent Coming’ features the vocal skills of Mark Lanegan and marks the first Earth album to feature vocals since '96’s Pentastar: In the Style of Demons. The track sprawls and hums over eight spellbinding minutes, Lanegan acting as your well-weathered yet wise guide through the song's desert-like landscape. The vocals don’t feel tagged on, with Earth’s music working perfectly in tune with Lanegan’s distinctive delivery. There’s a dream-like, psychedelic quality at play here that seeps into your subconscious.

‘From the Zodiacal Light’ begins with Carlson’s unmistakable style, slow and purposeful but much lighter than the sludge-like riff that opened the album. The song seems to transform with the presence of Rose Window’s lead singer, Rabia Shaheen Qazi. The vocals become part of the hypnosis as she sings about “A melody that is destined to save me”. Carlson’s playing seems more subtle, intuitive and beautiful than ever.

‘Even Hell Has Its Heroes’ sees the album change gear. Carlson tears into some electrifying solos, the dreamy, melancholic atmosphere of the last two tracks replaced by Earth’s unique brand of desert-blues. The core members, Carlson and Davies, remain the beating heart of the band.  

The album closes with the sublime sprawl of ‘Rooks across the Gate’. The track perfectly encapsulates everything that’s great about Primitive & Deadly while also acting as a summation of the band's career. Carlson’s guitar sounds utterly majestic, elements of drone, folk, rock and psychedelia seeping through each drawn-out note. Lanegan makes his second vocal appearance and it’s as ideal as the first, as he sings of devils, rooks and love.

Primitive & Deadly is an awe-inspiring record and will hopefully bring more people to Earth’s unique, powerful music. It’s a diverse, satisfying collection that looks to the future with an always respectful nod to the past. Expertly combing elements of dark and light, Primitive & Deadly is a rich and engrossing experience and possibly the best record I’ve heard this year. 

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