Monday, December 1, 2014

Review of Earth's Primitive and Deadly

It's been a good couple decades since Earth left the drone metal they pioneered behind but they've made a decent niche out of crafting scores for western movies that will never be made. But having run the risk of their desert rock formula sounding stale, their eighth studio album has a more conventional approach than usual. Guest musicians were recruited and vocalists were brought in for the first time in nearly twenty years. The results are refreshing yet manage to feel familiar.

The integration of vocals and extra instruments does make Earth more accessible but every element is utilized for the sole purpose of working towards their usual atmosphere. The sparse drum beats and drawn out guitar strums still serve as the band's power source while the leads that pop up opt for melancholic support instead of showing off. The vocals also have an instrumental quality, delivering their esoteric poetry in a way that won't exactly inspire any traditional singalongs.

While the inclusion of the legendary Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan was what caught my interest but the performance on "From the Zodiacal Light" by Rabia Shaheen Qazi is the album's shining moment. Her voice is almost hopeful and rises above the material in a way that that makes one long for further collaborations. The two songs featuring Lanegan are also pretty cool, especially the ominous "There Is A Serpent Coming," and the two instrumentals also find ways to stand out. The trudging riffs on "Torn by The Fox of the Crescent Moon" serve as an excellent opening even if the piece probably could've been dressed up a bit more.

With that, there is still a bit of untapped potential regarding the new elements at hand. The songs are more varied than before but some moments still feel limited by the repetitive structures and the single sluggish tempo that is used through the album. I also miss the cello that appeared on the last couple efforts and feel as if Qazi was slightly underused since she's only on one song. Perhaps they should be a full-length collaboration in the future...

Overall, Primitive and Deadly isn't on the same level as Hex or The Bees Made Honey in The Lion's Skull but it does offer some revamps that make Earth's core sound that much more satisfying. It isn't exactly a "catchy" album but it is easy to get a feel for and worth recommending to listeners who have previously overlooked the band. I hope to see further development but may have explore their back catalog a bit more in the meantime.

"Torn By The Fox Of The Crescent Moon"
'There Is A Serpent Coming"
"From the Zodiacal Light'

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