Earth - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Earth - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

Inspired by Black Sabbath’s original name, drone-metal pioneers Earth started life way back in 1989. Drone and repetition have remained constant yet the project has absorbed elements of country, psychedelia and metal. Earth’s latest long-player, Full Upon Her Burning Lips, finds Dylan Carlson and long-serving drummer Adrienne Davies embracing all things rock. Tonight promises to be exceptionally heavy.

The night begins with a set from experimental cellist Alison Chesley aka Helen Money. I was lucky enough to see the Chicago-based musician the last time she was in Leeds, supporting Steve Albini’s curmudgeonly noise-makers Shellac. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like it before or since.

Opening with ‘Facing the Sun’, Money holds us hypnotised from the very start. The piece unexpectedly bursting into distortion and noise, the sudden change is both jarring and genuinely exciting. No-one plays the cello like Helen Money.

Chesley doesn’t just play her cello, she owns it. Hitting the strings as hard as she can, bending it to her will. Thick, atmospheric tones bleed into fuzzy, distortion-heavy riffs. A sampled drum-machine ups the intensity while the entire set retains an undeniable tension. An innovative and impressive performance.

With a few exceptions Earth has always managed to communicate without the unnecessary burden of vocals and lyrics. The sound revolving around drone and an impressive devotion to ‘the riff’. With his sunglasses already in place, Dylan Carlson is a man of few words yet he knows exactly what he’s here to do.

I’ve seen the band perform with a cellist before; Lori Goldston bringing a subtle, sombre beauty to the Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light tour. Tonight the music reflects their latest output, with heavy-rock very much on the menu. Second-guitarist Tristan Jemsek bringing further depth to the duos substantial sound.

‘Cats on the Briar’ sets the tone; a loud, near earth-shattering (excuse the pun) riff that unfurls in typically slow, precise style. Carlson holding his guitar up in the air between notes like an offering to the gods. ‘The Colour of Poison’ stops, starts, snarls and swaggers while the sprawling majesty of ‘Datura's Crimson Veils’ is dedicated to Carlson’s wife, Holly. Every piece is, of course, incredibly loud.

A new song is temporarily christened ‘Leeds’ in honour of tonight’s setting, the piece moving at a marginally quicker pace. Expanding on those moments when Full Upon Her Burning Lips steps into something of a swagger. This is only ‘quick’ by Earth standards of course; they’ve not suddenly turned into the Ramones.

It’s with the arrival of an older song, ‘The Bee’s Made Honey in the Lions Skull’, that I feel myself surrender completely. Clutching my arms as the sweat and volume pour over me. This is the moment you always hope for at a gig, the moment when everything else slips away. It has to be said that Earth has become rather adept at providing these moments too.

Introducing the wonderful ‘Old Black’ Carlson tells us, “this next one’s about a tour van, a cat, an old man’s guitar…whatever you want it to be about”. And therein lies the beauty and mystery at the heart of Earth’s music. Close your eyes and let the drones and riffs take you where they will.

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