In 2005, out of the ashes of Earth’s first phase of existence as a band immersed in heavy metallic drone, came a new beast. Still laden with slow-crawling repetition this was drone with quite different colours, textures and most significantly elegant desert-parched melodies that hung in the air rather than being sucked into a dense morass of guitars. With each album over the last decade Dylan Carlson has stealthily explored similar dusty landscapes but Primitive and Deadly feels like the start of a new chapter.
The most obvious change is the addition of vocals and on two tracks Mark Lanegan is the perfect foil to Carlson’s primal, monolithic rumblings. He sounds as ancient as the music and never intrudes on the slow motion heavy metal riffs and sustained, distorted notes. ‘Rooks Across The Gates’ is the better of the two with his voice woven into the song rather than sounding like it was added to a pre-existing one. The epic eleven and a half minutes of ‘From The Zodiacal Light’ is the defining centrepiece of the album with Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) providing mystical, swirling, mantra-styled singing on a song that subtly morphs between great beauty and more doom-laden sonic gestures.
The success of Primitive and Deadly lies in Carlson deciding to evolve the Earth sound after it felt like it was threatening to become Earth-by-numbers. He has done that and done it exceedingly well, combining ethereality, weight and grace on an album that caresses with a sledgehammer in grand hypnotic fashion.
this review was first published on undertheradar.co.nz