Album Review: Primitive and Deadly – EARTH
[LISTEN] [Label: Southern Lord] [Date Released: September 2, 2014] [Genre: Experimental / Doom Metal / Drone]
Tones bright as bells ringing in a hazy distance comfort as the path winds down from the mountain into the valley dark below. Sonic glory.
On September 2, EARTH released Primitive and Deadly on Southern Lord Records. Their eighth studio album, it shines light on aspects of EARTH never before heard. Most notably, thanks to Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age) and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows), vocals were incorporated in the album. Additional featured artists are guitarists Jodie Cox (Narrows) and Bret Nelson (Built to Spill).
Over the past twenty years EARTH have made an impact on music that goes unnoticed by many, yet for those who listen closely there is much to hear. Led by guitarist Dylan Carlson, the band’s only constant member, EARTH formed in 1989, taking their name from heavy blues rock gods, BLACK SABBATH. In their beginning, EARTH pioneered drone metal with the 1993 release EARTH 2: Special Low Frequency Version, being called a “milestone” of the new genre. Upon first listen, the challenging music sounds nothing more than heavy feedback and metal-style riffage, although, with careful notice, one can hear the layers of sound and beauty beyond. Interviews with Carlson explain his fascination with drone as a part of sound and music and its connection to his personal interest of the East and Buddhism.
As a local Seattle musician, Carlson was a close friend to Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who sang on EARTH’s live recorded track “Divine and Bright,” and may be even more famous for purchasing the shotgun used in Cobian’s subsequent suicide.
After two more albums, a new line up, and an almost ten year hiatus, EARTH came back in 2005 with the breathtaking album Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method. This marked a new chapter for the group: distortion was abandoned and focus shifted on a new musical direction incorporating country, blues and jazz. Since then, they’ve experimented with different instruments (in addition to the core line up of guitar, bass, and drums), such as slide guitar, piano, organ, and cello.In many ways, EARTH is coming full-circle with Primitive and Deadly, falling back to their metal-oriented, distortion- driven sound that originally defined them. With pure prowess EARTH start the album with a chugging distorted riff, a meditative blues lead and slamming drums. Although drummer
Adrienne Davies typically strays very little from her jazzy and simplistic approach, oddly enough, her style complements the heavier sounds of this album well. Track three, “From The Zodiacal Light” is an anthem to the unique and skilled group EARTH are. Aside from the amazing talent possessed by vocalist Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows), Bassist Bill Herzog really shows his colors, doing more than just a typical performance on this track. The next track, “Even Hell Has It’s Heroes” begins with a signature slow moving, bluesy spaciness that evolves into a fuller orchestration than usual, due to the soulful, twangy leads of Carlson and Nelson.
The album as a whole is an amazing work of art: it compiles countless genres into one cosmic sound. Additionally, it takes EARTH to a new level, proving that this group is far from finished when it comes to redefining itself.
[Favorite Tracks: “From The Zodiacal Light” & “Even Hell Has It’s Heroes”]
by Ethan Norvell