Sunday, September 28, 2008

Earth – The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull

Earth has followed an interesting career path. The band, I mean, not the planet. Though presumably the planet has followed an interesting path or two in its time. Regardless, Earth (the band) has quite a bit of history behind it. Formed in the early 1990s, Earth gained notoriety for playing extremely slow, feedback heavy, droning music. Following the release of their seminal debut album Earth 2 in 1993, Earth had managed to develop a devoted cult following. Unfortunately, that’s about all they developed. They never found any commercial success, and seemed unable to grow their fanbase. Eventually Earth disbanded in 1996.

But what of their devoted cult following? Well, the drone metal sound they pioneered inspired countless other bands who went on to find more success playing music that had evolved out of the music that Earth had developed. Bands like Sunn 0))), Boris, Sleep, and countless other drone and sludge metal bands went on to find much more success, both commercially and critically. Thankfully, this surge in interest prompted Earth to reunite and begin recording again.

During their time off it is almost as if Earth never actually stopped playing, just stopped doing it publicly. Upon their return, they had lost none of their ability, yet actually seemed to have progressed well beyond the drone metal sound they previously pioneered.

Their newest album (admittedly, not all that new, it came out in February), The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, is one of the most exciting albums I’ve heard in a long time. The day I got it, I think I listened to it five times in a row. It is a slow, dense album that is steeped in a harsh beauty, like a vast southwestern desert landscape. The music creeps through repetitive riffs that are heavy and expansive. Delicate flourishes, such as piano, guitar noodling, and subdued drumming, fill the gaps around the monolith rhythm guitar.

The entire album plays like being lost in the desert at high noon. Beautiful, vast, and enveloping. The music is both oppressively dense and thick, but also subtly layered, complex, and filled with delicate touches that swirl half hidden beneath the wall of guitar. It is beautiful in way that is undeniably inspired by the American southwest.

The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull is one of the most beautiful albums I have heard in a long, long time. Don’t be confused, though, this isn’t some kind of metal Enya or feedback soaked Cocteau Twins. Ultimately, it sounds kind of like a more, well, earthy post-rock album, but a lot better than that prospect sounds.

Here is a fan-made video for the song “Engine of Ruin”

Pretty great, right? Plus, look at that album cover. Awesome…

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