ALBUM REVIEW: Earthless – Black Heaven

earthless-black-heaven

The trio, renowned for their epic psych rock and metal instrumentals that can reach the 20 minute mark, are back with a new album that turns that reputation on its head by way of shorter songs and most noticeably, the addition of vocals.

Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell steps up the mic on Black Heaven and it’s a move that shifts the dynamic of the band. His singing gives those songs shape and structure that previously was subsumed by Earthless’ improvisational approach. Once you acclimatise to the change it makes sense and feels like a refresh of the band’s sound. It’s them trying something different and for the most part it works well.

Opener Gifted By The Wind is a dead ringer for Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil with Mitchell’s voice sitting somewhere between the howl of Ozzy and Comet’s On Fire’s Ethan Miller. Electric Flame settles into an insistent Blue Cheer chug – metal boogie of the most contagious kind. Drummer Mario Rubalcaba and Mike Eginton nail their Krautrock meets 70s rock precision and groove, anchoring the songs with gravitas yet also pushing and pulling them in constantly inventive directions. The title track sends a not-too-subtle nod to Led Zeppelin albeit in overdrive with spiralling riffs barely hanging on as the song accelerates into the stratosphere. In contrast, Sudden End goes for an epic lumber and sway with long, held notes. This is Earthless going out on a limb and impressively incorporating new sounds without abandoning their cosmic interstellar roots. 

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: Earthless, The Shrine, Elysium Eternal @ The Hi-Fi, Sydney (04/01/14)

Earthless |photo by Chris Familton
Earthless | photo by Chris Familton

Japanese trio Elysium Eternal played to a sparsely populated Hi-Fi but they didn’t let that deter them from pulling out their raw and organic psych rock sound and stage moves. Now into their third decade their music hasn’t evolved greatly since the early 90s. Still essentially classic rock with stoner and doom elements thrown into the mix. They allowed dynamics to shape the songs rather than just bludgeoning the audience with rock stereotypes, even including a cover of a Flower Travellin’ Band song as a nod to the psych rock lineage they came from. In all it was good set though one that would have benefited from a smaller venue with more people and atmosphere.

The Shrine certainly shook things up, inspiring the more energetic and lubricated members of the audience to start a half-hearted circle pit. Launching headlong into each song with a brief and frantic introduction the trio harnessed the brattish elements of skate punk and enhanced it with both classic rock and heavy metal riffs and hair shaking attitude. The energy of their music was the most immediate attraction though when they halved the pace and dug out some grooves from the tumbling rock rubble they enhanced their appeal immeasurably. Their set ended disappointingly with their Lemmy-esque bassist losing power to his amp and resorting to joining the audience, who graciously and literally showered him in beer while the drummer and guitarist stretched and jammed out the song.

Earthless have built their reputation on epic live shows with 20 minute plus songs and endless psych rock soloing. The band didn’t disappoint though the bunch of punters who decided to ignore the musical intricacies and drunkenly throw themselves around until some were dragged out by security made for an annoying distraction. Guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, drummer Mario Rubalcaba and bassist Mike Eginton seemed oblivious to all that though, lost as they were in the job at hand. All three were essential to the epic sweep and grand dynamics on show across the two songs they played. Yep, two songs in an hour-long performance. Surprisingly there were few if any lulls in the music, such was their mastery and endurance as the rhythm section created their own shapeshifting sonic palette over which Mitchell conjured an endless array of spiraling solos and Hendrix-like chordal shapes. Riveting, absorbing and totally immersive, Earthless took psych rock taken to its logical and hypnotic extremes.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music

NEWS: The line-up for Meredith Music Festival 2012

The first list of acts performing at this year’s Meredith Music Festival in Victoria has been announced and as usual it looks to be a great mix of electronic, psychedelia, rock and hip hop. Check out our Rdio playlist featuring bands appearing at the event that takes place from December 7-9th.

There is a ballot happening so if you want to increase your chance of being allocated a ticket you need to head to www.mmf.com.au before 10pm Tuesday 21 August. Round One has been drawn and results hit inboxes Wednesday 15 August. Round Two results out Thursday 23 August.