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Regardless of which era of Dylan Carlson you prefer to listen to, his music will always have a subtle way of, well, droning over your thoughts. After all, this is the man responsible for inventing the entire genre. It makes me wonder though...if you were one of the few people who actually had the pleasure of hearing the Extra-Capsular Extraction EP when it was first released in 1991, what in the world were you thinking?!
Let's quickly take a few steps further back into the past. Although Earth was the first band to play this interesting, drony offshoot of doom metal, pure drone music dates all the way back to the 1960's. One of its originators, La Monte Young, defined it as "the sustained tone branch of minimalism." Now, if that doesn't sound pretentious as all hell, I don't know what does. What happens when one adds metal into the equation? Well...Earth is what happens...and although its music has changed quite significantly over the past 20 years, A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra-Capsular Extraction is (for those who weren't previously aware) quite a strong confirmation that Earth is a pretty cool-ass band.
A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra-Capsular Extraction is a remastered version of two of the band's early works. The first three songs come from the aforementioned mentioned EP and span over half an hour in length. If I had a Flux Capacitor, I would love to travel back in time to hear what people were saying about the eighteen-minute long closer "Ouroboros is Broken" twenty years ago. Other than some subtle sound effects, there is literally no variation in that track. It's a 10-15 second loop played over and over and over again. Yet...it's strangely likeable.
How is it likeable? Well, it's heavy as a pair of two-ton steel balls for starters, especially when blasted at high volume. It's also more enjoyable when used as a soundtrack to doing some of your other favorite activities -- perhaps not love-making, but Earth's newer material fills that void easily. It's also important to recognize the many musicians whom Earth would go on to inspire.
The second remastered effort pulls four tracks from their first demo, which was originally released in 1990. Finding this out took a bit of investigating, as the names of some of the songs have been changed. The names featured on this re-release are actually identical to the tracks of Earth's first live album, Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars, which was released in 1995. After hearing the unforgettable voice of Kurt Cobain on the track "Divine and Bright," I realized he must have either come back from the dead to record one last song, or that it was taken from elsewhere. (I know...this review is starting to sound like too much of a history lesson.) Needless to say, the four re-mastered demo tracks contain more of the same repetitive nature as the opening three, but with more experimentation (such as Cobain's vocals, for starters) thrown into the mix. The songs contained therein are certainly unrefined, but they maintain a unique, tasteful quality that any fan of doom metal will greatly appreciate... especially in hindsight.
Here's a comparison you're not likely to hear anywhere else: Earth kind of reminds me of Death and Bathory. All three groups not only helped usher in new genres, but they also continued to forge additional paths for themselves which, in turn, helped bring about even more avenues of music. If you're impatiently waiting to see if Earth is going to continue their twangy-western approach to drone on their upcoming album, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (set for release in February 2011), why don't you take a few deep breaths and learn something about the band's past. It'll be worth your time.
Originally written for MetalReview.com