Earth are one of those bands able to experiment new directions in their music, cross the boundaries of each music genre and always capable to create a distinctive and beautifully crafted sound. There’s been a lot of anticipation about their tenth studio album, Primitive and Deadly, through which the Seattle based band delivers an epic and very diverse collection of songs that focus on distorted heavy riffs, acoustic timbres, and expansive country-drone sounds after many years and so taking the distances from the drone of albums as Earth 2 or the rock- oriented doom of Pentastar: In the Style of Demons. The other news is that the upcoming album brings the first guest vocal contribution since Pentastar in 1996 thanks to the brilliant guests Mark Lanegan of Queens of The Stone Age / Screaming Trees and Rabia Shaheen Qazi from the psychedelic Seattle band Rose Windows . Being a fan of Earth, it took me a while before started to write about Primitive and Deadly and after listening to it countless times I can tell that this is album is my favorite from the band together with Angels of Darkness and Pentastar.
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Lovers of the heaver side of Earth will totally blow their mind with the album’s opener, “Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon” that immediately and brilliantly casts the record’s somber, reflective mood. The drums never let up for a moment and, for about nine minutes , Earth dances at the edge of eruption using chugging riffs. It’s a slow start with a certain sense of anxiety everywhere and I think that this is one of the heaviest tracks that the Dylan Carlson and Co. have ever created. From there Earth moves towards a pillow of noisy-textured guitar sound and keyboard of “There is a Serpent Coming” of which the baritone voice of Mark Lanegan can be considered the main instrument. In its eight minutes “There is a Serpent Coming” has everything I expect from a song by a band like Earth: rhythm, passion from each note, light and darkness combined in a vertigo of sound able to keep you constantly on the move. The following track “From the Zodiacal Light,” features the vocals by Rabia Shabeen Qazi. It follows the same path of the previous song, but this time the vocals work as a sort of redemption through darkness. “From the Zodiacal Light” is the album’s most psychedelic and drug-induced track and it’s notable.
The second half of the album is as good as the first part. “Even Hell Has Its Heroes” is built in a typical Earth style, sporting blistering riffs, accented by brief passages of clean guitar, and superb drumming. This song sounds almost like an acoustic Sunn O))) and this is not surprising considering that Primitive and Deadly features the bass of Bill Herzog next to the band’s core of guitarist Carlson and drummer Adrienne Davies. “Rooks Across the Gate” kicks off with tinkling bells before the guitar notes and the voice of Lanegan take the scene again. The overall sound is really heavy and extremely slow. The same riff is repeated over and over and over again, not only in this track, but also in the instrumental “Badgers Bane” and for about thirteen minutes! But with Earth, repetitive doesn’t mean boring. Never. The slow and heavy sound that Earth plays will put you in a trance. Open minded listeners with a great tolerance for repetitive sounds will love these captivating songs, its definitely a hypnotic experience.
“Badgers Bane” closes Primitive and Deadly, an album that can be considered one of the heaviest that Earth has ever written. For sure it’s not an easy listening and it may take a few full spins to appreciate it for what it really is. Essentially, if you’re a fan of Earth, as I am, you’ll love it. Primitive and Deadly will be released on September 2nd on Southern Lord and if you are lucky enough you’ll have the occasion to see them playing live in occasion of their American tour from September 4th through October 3rd.