Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
Label: Southern Lord Recordings
Release Date: 2012Feb14
About a year ago, I reviewed Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1, the first two albums by Earth recorded in the same sessions. Over the course of the year, it grew to be one of my favorite records of 2011. To make things even better, part 2 has come just as I was beginning to get antsy for more material. I have no doubt that this will remain near the top of my list as 2012 rolls on.
Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II builds upon its predecessor in the most logical way. The first part ended with its title track, a 20-minute-long, serene jam. The band now expands on this free-form attitude with tracks that sound loosely structured, emerging organically rather than through cold, organized written material. Earth has never sounded more… well, earthy.
Much of the country influence present on the previous albums seems to have taken a back seat to a more traditional drone approach (note: “more traditional” does not necessarily connote “traditional”). The slide appears to have been completely abandoned while pace and volume have both been downplayed significantly. This amounts to the most tranquil record Earth has ever recorded. Make no mistake, though; it still packs a punch.
Structurally, this record is a big, long crescendo. However, it’s not a build-up in the vein of, say, Godspeed You! Black Emperor or any other post-rock band. Instead, Dylan Carlson has allowed the mood to slowly become more intense as time goes on with only minimal increases in volume. Opener “Sigil of Brass” features only clean guitar and some lightly-tapped cymbals for ambience. “His Teeth Did Brightly Shine” proceeds to introduce a second guitar track, bass, and cello. “Multiplicity of Doors” then brings Adrienne Davies, with her drums operating in full force. “The Corascene Dog” builds upon the dark atmosphere with some slightly-overdriven guitar licks, courtesy of Carlson. Wrapping everything up is “The Rakehell”, the only tune on the album with a consistent, clearly-audible riff carrying its way through the entire song. This closer also proves to be one of the best tracks Earth has released in a long time, with beautifully-layered guitars and a lonesome sense of nostalgia; a longing for a simpler time where music was rarely judged for its musicianship, and more for its effect on the listener.
Tapping into the listener’s emotions is just what Earth does best, albeit in an incredibly unorthodox way. Songs move at a dirge-like pace with little distinct composition. Despite this, there is a raw and visceral feeling of bittersweet sadness evoked through the simplicity of the recordings. Dylan Carlson has never felt the need to bombard audiences with overwhelming sensory input. However, the negative space that this austerity creates can override your mind into another state of being altogether.
Try 2, 3, 5
01. Sigil of Brass
02. His Teeth Did Brightly Shine
03. Multiplicity of Doors
04. The Corascene Dog
05. The Rakehell