Monolithic drone pioneers Earth have never stood still. Robustly experimental even incorporating tuba into their eerie webs of distortion Dylan Carlson and co-conspirator Adrienne Davies have another trick up their sleeves on this tenth album Primitive and Deadly (Southern Lord): vocals!
“Allowing themselves to be a rock band” as Carlson put it, the album features the gravel tones of Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi of Seattle psyche act Rose Windows who both augment the cacophonous yet warm droning guitars and unwavering rhythms, fitting in perfectly with Carlson’s vision.
Probably their most consistent release since the genre defining Pentastar: In The Style Of Demons, Primitive And Deadly is a hypnotic and enthralling experience easily digested during a single sitting. The fact that these are the first guest vocalists’ since that 1996 release is fitting considering they provide the only light amongst the all-consuming darkness of this captivating platter.
Lanegan adds a rich, smoky timbre to the cavernous ‘There Is A Serpent Coming’ while Qazi’s contribution to ‘From The Zodiacal Light’ is an equally compelling journey through the recesses of the unconscious mind. “It’s all over now, the devils guide you” Rabia sings while the waves of distortion consume you in a passionate embrace for over eleven minutes of psyche-drone mastery.
The cinematic sensibilities remain very much a part of Carlson’s modus operandi, yet the country and western influences and additional instrumentation has been stripped back to reveal the band’s beating heart; primal slabs of distorted psyche rock which make for an immersive and intense ride which will withstand many repeat listens.
Sprawling epics are Earth’s stock in trade, yet the atmospherics of the five cuts here are so wonderfully all-consuming. Concluding with the sorrowful lament of ‘Rooks Across The Gates’ where Lanegan intones “I dropped her in the east wood stream”. Adopting a more song based approach as benefitted Carlson and Davies immensely. Surely one of the heaviest and most engrossing works of their career Earth have delivered the goods in style. Primitive And Deadly is one record which lives up to its brash moniker.