CD £7.99 SPCD361
CD on Sub Pop Records.
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7/10 Tom Customer review, 21st May 2018
Earth created something of a genre-defining record with their debut, Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version, a concoction which founder Dylan Carlson called 'ambient metal' and which is now more widely known as drone metal. Comprised of three very long tracks of very loud, very slow droning guitars feeding back and riffs bleeding into one another it's a fantastic listen but one which must have taken Sub Pop devotees by surprise. Carlson recently said that it took them 3 years to shift 2,000 records which would have been eye opening (and concerning) to Sub Pop execs in 1993, the height of the grunge era.
Their 1996 third album Pentastar: In the Style of Demons is definitely a departure. For one thing, Carlson is joined here by a full band. For another it features vocals - the first of only two Earth albums which aren't entirely instrumental (the other being 2014's Primitive and Deadly). Indeed, this is as close to a straight-forward rock album as Earth ever came. They even cover Jimi Hendrix's 'Peace in Mississippi' forchristsake! The band lock into a mid-paced groove throughout which allows Carlson's droney, circular riffs to take centre stage while his incantations (buried low in the mix) serve as just another layer of drone to add colour to the mix. In between the 'songs' are instrumental tracks which rank among Carlson's best ('Crooked Axis For String Quartet' and 'Charioteer (Temple Song)').
This would be the last proper Earth album for almost a decade until they returned with 2005's Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method, signalling the arrival of the second era of the band, the more pastoral, western-inspired band that has enjoyed a level of success and recognition that always eluded them the first time around. As a document of their 90's output Pentastar is probably the most accessible entry point. They made more interesting and influential music but on Pentastar they sound like they were having fun being a rock band.
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