Primitive & Deadly

“I see behemoth coming/I see a serpent coming/I see a beast is coming/I see a deadly heat is coming”

”There Is A Serpent Coming”

Being as this is the first song to contain vocals on an Earth record since Pentastar: In The Style of Demons, it’s very appropriate and telling. One could use any of those descriptors as an adjective for this, their newest release. The fact that it is sung by Mark Lanegan is very fitting. Both being forefathers of the Seattle scene and reconnecting in this decade to make music that elevates beyond that which made them known is almost “full circle”, if you will; a crooked circle in musical endeavors. Taking inspiration from that which was theirs and the years of music that has occurred since, we have what can only be described as fitting. A welcome home in the form of fuzz, drone, haze, and psychedelics strangled in the musical noose that is the riff.

“Torn By The Fox Of The Crescent Moon” begins the album and its riff is bedeviling. A hypnotic ode to past transgressions with an underlying blanket of western tinged atmospherics. It’s a lumbering affair that volleys between the two forms of Earth that has been established on previous records. It builds tension while simultaneously crumbling upon itself as it progresses towards an implied, unattainable peak that is never reached. Frustrated distortions meander in the background, attempting to finish that proverbial climb to only collapse under the heft of the weight they couldn’t free themselves from.

“There Is A Serpent Coming” takes those background distortions from the previous track and puts those into stark contrast with Americana guitar theatrics and pairs them with a vocal delivery that is borderline beat poetic. It is a blues dirge that follows a different path to the same distant peaks but comes upon a dead end just the same. Mark Lanegan bears forward like a whiskey laden preacher promising salvation to a dust bowl congregation in a wind-beaten revival tent midst the oncoming apocalypse. All snake-oil salesman with venom in his words, trussed up for the hopeful as they nod in unison with their fractured belief. Adrienne Davies is restraint in its truest form. Saying more in those beats unheard, implied, and unfound. A rhythmic doppelganger to Dylan Carlson’s soothsaying guitar, accenting the song with the beat of a pallbearer in mourning.

“From A Zodiacal Light” is the musical acceptance of never reaching that peak hinted about in the previous song; the inner voice of a congregation member responding to Lanegan’s sermon of the serpent. Rabia Shaheen Qazi (of Rose Windows) lets her tone carry the song and it’s all velvet and smoke. Sultry, carcinogenic, and tired but never hopeless. She modally matches pace with the psychedelic suite that she accompanies; a sun cracked serpent en route to the shade of granite cliffs and mahogany sands that promise comfort and restraint.

“Even Hell Has It’s Heroes” finds the serpent settling in it’s home. A windy path traced in those mahogany sands by the guitar play of Dylan Carlson. Tunneling through the haze of the dust and distortion thrown forth and creeping its way to a colder environment, it becomes a segue unto itself; unfurling and pacemaking until its throes are well upon it’s final breaths. A descent from the shadows of those hopeless peaks unseen through a hallucinogen half told and marked unfinished in the wake of a bad trip.

“Rooks Across The Gate” closes out the album in what can be construed as a eulogy of sorts. Mark Lanegan sings in the opposite of haste and hope, telling a tale of tribulation and tee-total as the serpent retires in resilient recompense. The western tonality is final in this finale and walks a crooked circle from mouth to tail. The song quiet in delivery and, in context, echoing the vocals as they writhe together in distorted finality.

Primitive & Deadly is very much an Earth album. Another traipse through cinematic valleys told though the musical thoughts expressed through terraforming and understated hopelessness. Don’t mistake this for a negative transgression of form though. It’s very melancholic, that much is true, but it’s a very positive affirmation that Earth are masters of their craft. As somber as that craft may be.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris S
December 12th, 2014


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