Earth Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

A sparsely-drawn exercise in restraint, meditation and composure.

Alex Deller 2012

Considering Earth 2.0 have existed for longer than the 90s incarnation that altered the face of heavy music it’s odd that Dylan Carlson is still spoken of as if he’s competing with Boris in terms of volume or density. Truth be told, anyone still banging on about Earth in terms of "crushing drone" or heavy metal is rather missing the point, and this latest foray serves as a perfect illustration as it continues down a dusty path that’s less about Sunn amps and smashed guitars than the bleak, stark Americas envisioned by Cormac McCarthy or Daniel Woodrell.

A companion piece to last year’s Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I, it’s unsurprising that this instalment shares many similar characteristics. The line-up, after all, is the same and the tracks were recorded in the same two-week session during which Carlson was battling health problems.

This set, though, relies more on improvisation and the patient, knowing interplay between members so in tune they seem to share a telepathic link. Sigil of Brass sets the scene with typical aplomb, Carlson slowly scratching out a spartan guitar pattern while insectile whirrs, thrums and clicks mutter quietly away in the background. This bleeds subtly into His Teeth Did Brightly Shine, a lengthier number that broods inwardly while suggesting motes of dust illuminated by cold autumn sun and the lonely tick of a worm-burrowed grandfather clock in a dilapidated colonial mansion.

With A Multiplicity of Doors Lori Goldston’s cello becomes the grudging star of the show, creaking and whinnying amid morose bass notes and weary cymbal splashes. It’s only with closer The Rakehell that the pace really changes, its gradual funk representing the album’s riffiest moment and one which, in another, sprightlier, life could have soundtracked a 70s cop show shakedown instead of being better suited to the era’s most lethargic porn flick.

While each pale sketch works beautifully in isolation it’s as a whole that the album truly shines. Though parallels can be drawn with the likes of Labradford, Barn Owl and Dirty Three (or, heretical as it may seem to those echoing Carlson’s appreciation for classic English folk, a more thoughtful and informed version of Brant Bjork’s Jalamanta) it’s better to simply view this opus as a beautifully deconstructed blues that’s equally effective as a paean to careworn Americana or as a sparsely-drawn exercise in restraint, meditation and composure.

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