Long since abandoning the standard drone, Dylan Carlson and company have been experimenting since their reunion in 2003. Their new, country-influence sound is something that is markedly different than their earlier works such as Earth 2. However, the band utilized this new sound to craft some absolutely brilliant releases, namely The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull, an album that much of our staff acknowledges as their post-reunion opus, a classic album dripping with creativity in its most refined form. While the music may be simple, there’s more going on than someone would find after only one listen. Since then, the band release two album, but then got quiet. Three years later, Earth are back, and this time they’ve transformed from a drone-country ensemble to a full fledged rock band.
There’s something special about Primitive And Deadly, something esoteric that really is more than what it seems. There’s vocals on half of the tracks, and that adds to this mystifying nature. Earth experimented briefly with vocals in the mid-90s, but never really allowed them to be anything more than a one-time thing. How many times have they actually played ‘Tallahassee’ live, anyways? Primitive And Deadly takes the beautifully haunting vocals of Mark Lanegan and the modern voodoo soul from Rabia Shaheen Qazi and turns them into something more beautiful than a person could imagine. The chilling raspiness of Qazi’s vocals laid on top of the album’s single ‘From The Zodiacal Light’ turns the song from classic Earth into new Earth, what many will soon realize is a sort of spiritual rebirth, in a sense. This rebirth allows Earth to go beyond the drone and beyond the doom and delve into vocals, weaving them into a song and learning how to properly turn it from a voice into an instrument. Lanegan’s vocals are haunting as well, sounding as if he is trying to conjure up spirits by speaking their native tongue.
Primitive And Deadly is an apt title for the record, as well. It translates really well with the direction the band has taken. Primitive, slow, churning doom country rock with deadly haunting vocals turns this record into something more than meets the eye, or ears. The music creeps out of your speakers and drips down slowly, like candlewax, the sounds of a wall of guitars and bass and drums beating deep within you, almost in sync with that of a dying man. The band’s last outings felt lacking in the sense that the production was not up to snuff. However, the band went back to working with Randall Dunn, who worked with them on TBMHITLS, as well as Hibernaculum and Hex, and he fully captured the essence of Earth in one record, and did so flawlessly. The album is extremely thick with tone and textures and everything is crisp and clear as it can be.
The album is brief in nature. Without the vinyl bonus track (which is highly recommended), the album clocks in at around 45 minutes. However, this lends itself to something fantastic. An album that is this short and has this much impact and evokes so many different emotions over its duration is something to marvel at. There’s only a handful of albums that can really do that, and one of them is TBMHITLS, also by Earth. It uses its time wisely, however, never using it for meandering drone passages or unnecessary guitar parts. It’s just pure Earth from start to finish. Even with the vocals put on top of it you can still tell what band it is immediately, without any other form of recognition in sight. It takes a truly great act to set themselves apart in such a way, and Earth have constantly done it since their reunion, and it appears that they will continue to do so for years to come.
Primitive And Deadly is the zenith of the band’s career thus far. They have not only transformed into something completely different than they were 20 years ago, they have become better musicians and a better band. Now that they’ve allowed themselves to be a rock band, as Dylan Carlson put it, there’s only greatness ahead for this seminal drone-folk-doom act, and if they bring the vocals along with them, then it’s definitely going to be a fun ride down the road to the band’s future.
Earth’s Primitive and Deadly gets…