BY MICHAEL TOLAND
The first incarnation of Earth, Dylan Carlson’s long-running means of self-expression, took the grunge of its Pacific Northwest brethren and slowed it way, WAY down, creating a new mode of droning doom in the process. The band’s new millennial work, however, has largely eschewed distortion and metal trappings for a trippier, cleaner, more Southwestern vibe that’s led to new heights of artistic success. Apparently, however, Carlson, stalwart drummer Adrienne Davies and bassist Bill Herzog have taken the twanging drone as far as it can go, reverting back to waves of heavy riffola on Primitive and Deadly. And not only that – this is the first Earth record since 1996’s Pentastar: In the Style of Demons to feature vocals, sung by guests Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi from Rose Windows.
Given the band’s success the last couple of decades at moving rock away from its trusty toolbox, Primitive and Deadly seems on its face like a step backward into safe territory after years happily tripping through the wilderness. But that would only hold water if the results weren’t as satisfying as they are – the songs unfold with the same measured pace as any classic Earth pieces, Lanegan and Qazi fit perfectly on their respective tunes and Carlson’s riffs flow like chocolate lava. Brooding, menacing, haunting, even elegiac – we feel the Earth move across the emotional spectrum, rumbling through its soundscapes with eyes closed and amps set to stun.
DOWNLOAD: “Even Hell Has Its Heroes,” “From the Zodiacal Light,” “Badgers Bane”