Earth

Earth, Primitive and Deadly

Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon. Opens in medias res-ishly with unusually-straightforward (for Earth) metal riff (an awesome one) occasionally punctuated by sitar-like guitars draped over it, then some thirds and/or minor thirds wafting across the sound field, barely noticed, not unlike irony in the south, or the sweet smell of the little sugar in a proper Earl Grey. Heavier than their last two records (three, really; it’s the Kill Bill dilemma: is it one movie in two parts, or two movies? One, I think, so by that rationale, I’m talking about Earth’s last two records, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, and Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light. Got that? Sure you do; you’re a smart kid), and a bit more rhythmic, in that there’s a bit less rubato and the whole liquid, gooey sonic mess is more coagulated, hangs together more tightly, and in that, comes off as even heavier, even more ominous. It’s nine minutes, nearly, but you don’t notice: the mark of good writing/composing. Last twenty seconds it lumbers downward, knees failing the sonic behemoth, the aural leviathan, and the clangor and clamor of the percussive pandemonium roiling downward into dust from which it shall be indistinguishable, like a detonated building, the roof suddenly so much nearer sea level….

No idea about that title, though.

There is a Serpent Coming. Sounds more like the previous records, though vocals enter after about a minute; reinforces Earth’s similarity to a sick, Crimean cholera hospital blues preacher (just imagine it: Jesus, do I have to conjure all the imagery here?)– his choir’s behind him, lapsteel to feedback singers, all fading into this, their slow inexorable death from the dysentery-spewing disease….

Or maybe radiation poisoning. Yeah, that simile works better. Radiation poisoning. Their gray-blue skin mottled with dehydration and cellular Armageddon, smiling from the morphine. Fading…. Out.

From the Zodiacal Light. Also with the singing; the female singer works a bit better here; overall, not as good as the instrumental tracks. Grows on you, especially the “swelling” vocal styles, which seem like the sonic equivalent of molten gold in a lava lamp, swimming up into pitch so slowly you doubt it’s gonna happen, but every four bars, always does. Something like waiting for every sunrise with the tiny, tiny chance that the great burning ball in the sky won’t make it up in time. Title? As is the norm with Earth, they almost all sound like they’re intentionally oblique/cryptic, like nearly everything Pandoran psychos say out in the Borderlands. This one’s twelve minutes, but around the eight-minute mark, you do notice the length. By twelve minutes you wish it was as succinct as Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The song.

Even Hell has its Heroes. Now that’s a title. That’s a title. That’s what I’m talking about. That title is fresh, funky, fly, the bomb, bootylicious and dope. No diggity. Seriously, no diggity. Sounds almost like acoustic Sunn 0))) –no surprise considering their bassist– one chord; don’t even need to call it a “tonic” since there aren’t other tones, okay there are, but they’re pretty frickin’ rare. I’m going for colorful exaggeration here, people. If I said, “Mostly in E, but drops to D for a second, then goes back to E,” your eyes would prolly glaze over. Amirite? Also, occasionally hits a F. Also nearly ten minutes, but it’s a fun ten. It’s a fun ten.

Rooks across the gates. Opens with alien wind chimes. You half expect a green, radioactive Mr. Burns to show up and wish you love. Then, without warning, an absolute Goddamn flurry of third chords flitting about each other, sometimes seemingly not in tune, yet somehow working, the dramatic tension making the final resolve more satisfying, like the click into place of a seatbelt, or the slide on an automatic. Like a kaleidoscope that ever so rarely becomes one color, then back, to all the varieties in light, competing for space/ dancing.  Also with the singing of devils, deals, loss, regret, nostalgia, twilight sojourns. Of just kingdoms long dead from treachery.

Of barbarians in the distance, and barbarians… at the gate.

The entire song is the last note of lesser songs– just ringing out, fading, across nine minutes instead of the thirty seconds you might expect.

I’m writing this at work; the setting is encouraging me to be more prolix. More loquacious. Verbose, even. I’m also trying to look annoyed –so I look busy– as I enjoy the afterlife damnation out of this record.

Badgers Bane. No apostrophe. A morose, down-tuned pop band’s requiem. That they play, not one written for them. Aaron Copeland’s requiem mass written on laudanum.

Link to Earth’s Bandcamp

Crowbar, Sever the Wicked Hand

I’ve been listening to this one on and off for months now, and somehow suddenly noticed that there were no Crowbar reviews here…

…which seemed… wrong.

Is Kirk Weinstein and his Crowbar boys’ newest album in 6 years the semi-religious experience we’d hoped?

…Decibel magazine, after all, placed it at #29 of the year…..

Well…

Nah.

Not really.

I’m pretty sure that the #29 placing was more a nod to Weinstein’s massive influence over/ creation of sludge metal in general.

Yeah, you say–but this is a site predominantly for riffs…. Are there great riffs on here, even if overall it’s not the best album?

Holy Goddamn Stoned Trippin’ Jesus on a stick– fiz-uck yes/ ja/oui/da/ci!

“Liquid Sky and Cold Black Earth,” after the requisite feedback, fires up a bowel-vacating riff that tells you exactly what Candlemass would’ve sounded like, were they from south Louisiana; “Let Me Mourn” opens with a fucking great detuned Behemoth of a riff, which then is actually topped by the riff that closes “The Cemetery Angels,” i.e.,  “BRING! IT! DOWN!!”– and it’s here that one notices the connection, mood and melody-wise, between sludge metal and traditionally-African American spirituals– not surprising, considering New Orleans’ Catholic heritage and slavery.

I dunno. Maybe I’m taking this too seriously because I was born in and am from New Orleans. Overall, usually one or two riffs from each tune beats the shit out of any new sludge that comes out now.

Maybe… this is good shit that could, no… should be… fucking Great.

The problem is, we expect so much from Weinstein– but only because we know he can deliver: his half-assed cast-off riffs are usually streets ahead of any kids’ new to the genre.

So get with it Kirk: quit screwing around and rock the planet with your sludge riffs. We don’t have time for less than your God-granted/ inspired best. World’s gonna end in like 12 months. Get on that. Make your potential manifest like the aurora borealis– or better yet:

nuclear winter.

Earth, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1

Here’s the thing:

There’s an expression in creative writing circles: “Book characters should talk more like actual people, and actual people should talk more like book characters.” (more…)