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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Earth - Full Upon Her Burning Lips [Sargent House - 2019]

Earth are the band Dylan Carlson has bestowed upon the world and we’re damned lucky to have them. Formed in Olympia Washington in 1989, Earth have continued to grow and evolve from the drone metal beginnings of their classic debut album Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version into something that draws from a vast wellspring of musical influences that includes country, jazz and folk music. Full Upon Her Burning Lips is the band’s ninth full length studio album and the first to see the band reduced down to core duo of Carlson on guitar and bass and Adrienne Davies on drums and percussion. This stripped back line-up has led to the band adopting a similarly reductive style, stripping away some of the sonic layers that have made up the band’s sound on previous albums and taking them into new territory.

Datura’s Crimson Veil opens the album, a huge slab of raw, glacially paced, muscular guitar-based rock, imagine Neil Young on Mogadon. This crawling, sprawling epic is an instrumental masterpiece that shows off the band’s new dynamic perfectly. Exaltation of Larks is a much shorter piece that follows in very much the same vein. Carlson’s lead work once again effortlessly gliding across the surface of the track, showing a level of belief and maturity that harks back to Neil Young. Cats on the Briar is built around a repetitive, mantra-like guitar riff courtesy of Carlson, following in the style to the previous two tracks. It is probably worth mentioning at this point Davies’ gloriously loose, laid back drumming that underpins everything Earth do. She has been a mainstay since joining the band, appearing on every release from 2003s 070796 Live. The Colour of Poison is up next and represents a heavier more metallic groove, firmly rooted in the doomier recesses of the band’s early career. This is followed up by Descending Belladonna, another monolithic slab of stripped back guitar rock that oozes from the grooves.

She Rides an Air of Malevolence gets the second half of the album underway in much the same way.  Once again, I am reminded of classic 1970s Neil Young, as Carlson almost seems to be channelling the legendary guitar player’s style, however, this is by no means a bad thing. This is not merely some sort of duplication of Young’s style, this is simply another excellent guitarist mining that same rich seam of sonic greatness. Maiden’s Catafalque is short but sweet, a spacey gem that seems to be filled with spaces which on previous releases would have been packed with instrumentation. That is perhaps one of the key factors in the sound of this album, there is a looseness and a sense that stripping the band back to a two piece has allowed for them to use the space between the instruments to great effect. An Unnatural Carousel is filled with the same lovely rich tones as the rest of the album, fitting perfectly alongside all that has gone before it. There is dark brooding quality to The Mandrake’s Hymn that sets it slightly apart from the rest of the album, it’s quite a subtle thing but it’s there, nevertheless. This can also be heard in the album closer, A Wretched Country of Dusk, which brings the album to its natural conclusion.

Full Upon Her Burning Lips is possibly the most achingly beautiful album of Earth’s career, they draw influence from everything they have done up to this point, but then they strip it back to the basics and in the process create something quite remarkable. The Neil Young influence is there to be heard by all and thankfully they don’t try to paper over it and hide it, they go with it and create a rich and beautiful record filled with perfect melodies. Simply put, it’s a wonderful record that I am certain will feature on many an end of year list. It’s most certainly going to feature highly on mine.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Darren Charles
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