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I recently purchased this on vinyl, and while it's a great, warm medium for this stoney music, I prefer it on cd. I love to listen to this when I'm falling asleep/sleeping, and unfortunately I can't flip the record whilst asleep, and if a side ends while I'm drifting off, well, that kinda fucks up my plan too.
A friend burned me a cd of this a few years ago and upon first listen I knew immediately that this is a sleep aid and/or drugging companion. I like to experiment with music that is paletteable for sleep in order to see how it affects my dreams or state of mind upon waking. Aphex Twin Ambient and Pink Floyd's Meddle are still my favorites for this procedure, but this album works quite well too, especially when bed time calls for something a bit darker.
I haven't tried it yet but I'm convinced this would be a fine soundtrack to a mushroom or acid experience. It goes great with pot, of course, and I daresay it's the perfect aural representation of a high dose of xanax (or downer of choice.) If sobriety is your thing this music is highly meditative. That said, I must agree with the previous reviewer that the commentary on the back of the sleeve is a bit much. No, I will not "forget drugs and alcohol," because of this album. And whoever said "When I got up, I swear I was a few inches off the ground" was clearly much higher than me. This shit makes me want to eat a heroic dose of any hallucinogen or benzodiazepine because there is just no fuckin way these guys were sober when they conceived or recorded it and I prefer to be on the proper psychotropic level with the musicians I enjoy listening to.
The riffs grow increasingly amorphous as the album plays, which is very conducive to sleep or the aforementioned pill popping. And if the artwork with the track listing is any indication these dudes enjoy their pills. "Seven Angels" could be a proper doom metal song with the addition of some sparse drumming and vocals, because there are actually enough notes being played to form a riff and there is even some palm-muted crunching to be heard. Oddly enough, the pure drone of "Like Gold and Faceted" has some occasional distant cymbal and drum hits on offer, but it's safe to say that the percussion here is purely for abstraction.
So yeah, this is for sleep and downers. It's the sonic ebb and flow of a primordial cesspool; oozing, undulating, and ultimately swelling into a vast and weird world all its own.
The quotes on the back of the jewel case ("...a physical presence in the room... I can almost touch the sounds."; "I feel alert yet very calm... Wonderful after a hard day.", and so on) greatly amuse me because I'm sure that for every piece of positive criticism this album got, another five people were calling it "lame hippie bullshit" or "tryhard ambient crap". And honestly, they wouldn't be too far off - Earth 2 isn't horrible or anything, but it's a far cry from "MY TENSION HEADACHES HAVE DISAPPEARED!" or whatever other sort of weird voodoo magic that people are trying to attribute to this album's dronage.
I'm honestly amazed that Earth constructed genius songs like "Geometry of Murder" and "Ouroboros Is Broken" and then decided that this was the most logical progression from that. Hell, everything about this release screams to me that it should come chronologically earlier in Earth's career: compared to Extra-Capsular Extraction, the guitar tone is weaker (the actual tone is buried under a massive amount of bass), there's no drums to speak of (though in Earth's defense, the last track sort of features them [read: by "drums", I mean a cymbal hit every minute or so], so their absence on two of the three songs was apparently intentional), and the riffs are just generally dumber, less catchy, and universally feature this moronic, caveman-ish, "Just picked up a musical instrument for the first time and it looks like if you move your fingers around the instrument, you can make more than one sound! Cool!" sort of melody that doesn't do much of anything towards creating an atmosphere.
I usually try to listen to the albums I'm reviewing while I'm writing about them, just to make sure that I haven't mistakenly claimed that "Hammer Smashed Face" has the best kazoo solo I've ever heard in metal or whatever. However, I've written over half of this review so far listening to some dope-ass nu-metal, and I'm pretty sure that if I wanted to, I could write about this album entirely from my relatively stale memory of it (keep in mind I usually listen to this album in the background instead of trying to actively focus on it) and my review would still be factually accurate, because I really can't stress how little actually goes on throughout this album's 73-minute length. There are probably five or six riffs spread throughout the entire course of Earth 2, but none of them are really decent enough to justify recycling them to such a ridiculous extent.
The first song "Seven Angels" is the one I'm most familiar with for three reasons: for one, it's the first song on the album, and thus the one I'm most likely to pay attention to before going "fuck, this is boring" and zoning out to focus on my studying or wanking; secondly, it's "relatively short" (by which I mean fifteen minutes, but by Earth 2-era Earth standards they probably thought this was "You Suffer"-esque in brevity); three, it's one of the most fucking annoying attempts at drone I've ever heard. The guitars are playing far too fast for the listener to just sit back and soak them in as ambience; they sound like stoner riffs written with Earth's signature Caveman Melodies™. Well, that, and the humming, about-as-un-"in-your-face"-as-possible guitar tone doesn't help the riffs, but there's a bigger problem here. As I said earlier, "there's no drums". Not even buried drums. No. Fucking. Drums. Have you ever heard a guitar act as the sole source of rhythm for a fifteen-minute song? Can you imagine how much awkward chugging it takes to keep a rhythm consistent for that amount of time? You honestly probably can't - seriously, if this were a bit faster and not so downtuned, then Earth would have created the first slam death metal song in 1993. "Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine" is probably the best song here, and not just because its name was used by a drone band whose sole album is infinitely superior to this one. It's slower, and while the riffs are still pretty stupid, at least the attempts to keep a rhythm aren't as awkwardly deliberate. This actually feels like, well, drone. Granted, drone that runs for about 25 minutes longer than it reasonably should considering the ideas presented, but drone nevertheless!
For the final track, it appears that Earth just decided to become complete smartasses. It's as if they said, "Oh, you thought that was slow? Well, watch this!" and played an open A on their guitars, then walked away from the recording booth and went to a local coffee shop, all the way there snickering like a preteen delinquent: "Heh heh heh! Some poor fucker's actually going to pay us money to hear this!" If you have superhuman lungs, you can hum a low A for 30 minutes and maybe occasionally shatter a glass plate on a tile floor, and in doing so you will have constructed a true-to-the-original cover of "Like Gold and Faceted". This is as lazy as drone gets, plain and simple, and probably took less than half its running time to conceptualize.
The album's idea of dynamics is mostly "let the same riffs repeat ad infinitum, but have some small noisy feedback occasionally pop in and out", and surprise surprise, it doesn't work. The ridiculous length of these songs cannot be justified as they don't even build up to anything grandiose or magnificent - all three of the tracks here are loops of six minutes (or in the last track's case, about three seconds) of material basically copy-pasted to create a full-length's worth of music.
I listen to this album a lot more than my amount of criticism for it would warrant, mostly because I find it hard to work on essays and the like without noise in the background, but anything with any sort of dynamics will attract my attention more than the task I'm supposed to be doing. This album is the epitome of pointless noise with nothing about it worth focusing on, so it works perfectly for this sort of vegetating. That, and it's over an hour long so I don't have to walk back and forth between my CD player and wherever I'm sitting very often to press the play button again. So, overall, great for lazy people who need something to blare in their ears or else they shut down, but my God, pity the poor soul who actually tries to actively listen to Earth 2 - if you're that guy, then Jesus fuck, go listen to Khanate's debut or practically anything but this, please. The prototypes of good genres are rarely ever excellent or anything, but it's hard to do a worse job at that than this album does.
Imagine the plethora of metal sub-genres that exist today as an extended family. Some members get along with each other well, others don't. Just like any family right? Drone / Doom, would be the "black sheep" of this family. The strange soul whom is understood by few, and dismissed by many. In fact, so misunderstood and misinterpreted is our "black sheep" that many of its relatives can't comprehend how they're related. Some members of our hypothetical family would wish this “Bastard child” be emancipated. In fact if it weren't for the advent of Black Metal, which introduced many extreme metal fans to a style that in many instances relied more so on atmosphere and sound-scapes to draw in the listener (rather the sheer speed or the low-register brutality employed by the majority of sub-styles that made up Extreme Metal Genre at the time ). Earth's Flavor of atmospheric and minimalistic drone / doom may never have enjoyed the dedicated following within the extreme metal community it does today.
Drones have been used in music throughout its history. In fact various pioneering electronic music artists such as Kraftwerk were experimenting with synthesizer based drones in their compositions over a decade prior to the definitive form of drone / doom metal was cultivated by Earth. That said there were two key things Earth did differently to the minimalist and electronic composers who experimented with drones before them. Firstly Earth used what was at the time very unusual instrumentation as far as ambient type music is concerned. Rather than synthesisers or samplers, electric guitars and basses were used to create and manipulate feedback and drones. Secondly, they took strong influence from Doom, Stoner, Sludge Metal and Grunge, which is a stark contrast to the electronic composers whom where experimenting with drones prior to them. As the name suggests Earth 2, is not Earth's first release. The EP “Extra-Capsular Extraction ", released two years prior to Earth 2 is a drone / doom album, albeit a reasonably different one to Earth 2. This EP could be considered a prototype for the drone / doom genre, which was not sufficiently explored or formed enough to be validated until the advent of Earth 2.
Earth 2 consists of three long tracks which flow into one and other in such a seamless manner that the album can almost be considered one long piece rather than three separate ones. Though this says more about the transition from track to track rather than implying the album lacks diversity between songs. The album begins with Seven Angels, which is just over 15 minutes in duration or around half as long as the other two tracks on the album. It commences with a deep heavy swirling droning fuzz laden note on bass guitar which is held for around a minute, whilst a dirty yet shimmering electric guitar introduces a simple melody which manages to contain subtle elements of beauty, whilst maintaining an ominous feel as if it is a warning to the listener of the impending, potentially challenging and unnerving sonic journey they’re about to embark on. Around the one minute mark, the guitar leaves the shimmering melody behind and introduces an abrasive, ominous, drudging, simple doom metal riff which is the motif for the piece. Even at this early stage in the piece’s progression some listeners will feel disenchanted and eagerly await less minimal sections. They will be sorely disappointed! But this is not due to any failing of the music at hand. It’s because most first time drone / doom listeners do not understand that drone / doom should not really be listened to in the same manner as the more “conventional” sub-genre’s of extreme metal.
You need to take almost a particle physicists’ approach in your listening. You must delve into the complexity of the individual notes as they drone in order to aurally break apart the nucleus which makes up each note and examine the sub-atomic sonic remnants that remain. A large stereo at high volume will aid you greatly in achieving this or better still, experiencing drone / doom live. Then and only then can you appreciate and understand the beauty, complexity and power of drone. The piece continues always returning to that same simple riff or slight variations of it. The guitar leads this song and thus as the riff is actually not that minimalistic by drone / doom standards, to avoid sonic clutter, the bass and other guitar track(s) provide the constant swirling drones. This is the defining feature of Earth 2’s drone / doom to a degree, the repetitive slow simple riffs creating a hypnotic atmosphere, lulling you into a meditative state or trance whilst layer upon layer of feedback, static, sustain and reverberations swirl around you. Creating oceans of sound which when listened to in a microscopic, rather than macroscopic fashion, are revealed to be constantly in flux, whirring around the listener with an amazing level of detail and complexity whilst mixing with and bouncing off the walls of sound created by the other instruments. This is the genius of this album, the justification for the Concorde moment status it has amongst drone / doom fans. When heard on a macroscopic level, it appears to most as extremely minimal and lacking in variation. When listened to on a microscopic level, the music reveals itself to the listener as the very opposite, maximal and riddled with complexity, variety and always in flux.
The album continues onto its second piece, becoming even more minimal at the macroscopic level. The tempo drops and the guitar tone changes becoming more feedback driven. The result is an amazing wall of sound that ceases to sound like a guitar and bass at all, taking on the tone of something much more organic, as if the very Earth itself is producing these vast sound-scapes that draw you into an almost altered state of consciousness, detached from reality. Teeth of lions rule the divine rolls on majestically, using long droning ambient sections drenched in shimmering feedback amongst passages of more doom metal influenced slow, yet still drone laden guitar riffing. The last track, Like gold and faceted is the longest and arguably the most inaccessible piece on Earth 2. Here this album almost ceases to be drone / doom, as any trace of the slow drudging metal riffs that featured in the first two tracks ceases. What is left behind is complimenting, feedback riddled, droning notes which create envelopes of sound. The difference with this track is that the drones are held long enough to allow the envelopes of sound to develop and transform, creating a moving ocean of sound. Like Gold and Faceted is like a soundtrack to meditation and with focused listening the experience this track creates has a cleansing sensation to it, resulting in a truly amazing, enlightening thirty minutes.
Earth 2 is a challenging listen. It challenges the listener to focus and discover its inner complexity and beauty. If you succeed, it is a truly rewarding musical experience that can really only be surpassed by experiencing a live full volume drone / doom performance. Some claim this album does not contain music, I would agree. This is more than just music, it is a quasi-transcendental experience.
What do I say about this? It's just as sparse of content as everyone says; all it is is a guitar and a bass playing basically the same few riffs endlessly for over an hour. I think that riffs might be shared between songs. Nothing else happens. I think there might be a scream in the opening of the second track but that might just be feedback. Seriously though, nothing else happens over the course of the album. I feel stupid even saying that because it's kind of the point, isn't it? For nothing to happen? If so, why am I listening to it?
The riffs are... good, I guess. With no other instrumentation or sound it's kind of like listening to a tape of riffs a friend of mine made to show me some stuff he wrote. I would never think of giving one of those tapes a professional CD release, but apparently it's okay when Earth does it, but I'm not going to begrudge them for that because there's apparently an audience for it. But anyway, the riffs: they're slow stoner riffs and kind of sound like the riffs you'd hear on a later Sleep record to me. The production is adequate but the guitars are pretty distant which prevents it from being crushingly heavy, but I don't think that's the point of this record either. You'll notice I can't figure out what the point is.
I don't think I 'don't get it' since I do appreciate other drone bands here and there, but that's because they have something: either they're obscenely heavy or there's more going on than just the rote repetition of riffs. I feel the need to stress that this is just as minimal and detail-free as the cover art, and I'm really starting to think I might be insane because others are detecting a nuance which is completely absent to me. I could see appreciating this in a live setting, maybe- you have a performance art aspect at work there. But listening to this at home? Why would I do it, exactly? The riffs are okay but I could listen to these riffs with drums and vocals in about a dozen other bands, and I prefer that to aimless guitar strumming.
Oddly enough I don't hate this record simply because it's difficult to hate a blank canvas, and despite how dumb I find the idea in general I think it's relatively devoid of pretense. Maybe I'm just not cool enough for this stuff but I don't really see a point to it.
This album, at least for me, is the epitome of perfection. It encapsulates everything that makes me absolutely love drone. It's an added bonus that this was the album that started it all.
The first track is "Seven Angels", the most coherent and musical on the album. The whole song consists of down-tuned, slow, heavy guitar riffs with long, low bass notes playing. While it may be the shortest and most musical on the album, it still clocks in at over 15 minutes and is definitely not for the uninitiated.
"Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine" ups the drone ante even more. It is not riff-based like the previous track, but is a series of long, strung-out chords with lots and lots of distortion and feedback. Overall, I find it to be the "weakest" on the album, but it is still awesome and is over 27 minutes in length.
"Seven Angels" is the third and final track on the album. It is an epic 30 minute masterpiece and one of the best songs my ears have ever had fortune of listening to. The whole song is essentially one long note played by Dylan Carlson. It lasts throughout the whole thing, while Joe Burns plays percussion at certain times (not like you would think, though. The "percussion" consists mainly of a few cymbal and tom hits). How they got the note to sustain throughout the whole song is absolutely beyond me, but god damn it, I'd love to be able to do that.
This album is legendary. It has spawned many worshippers of Earth's trademark early sound all the while staying underground with barely anyone having heard of it. I advise going to your local record store to see if you can find a copy on vinyl. This is one album that is truly enhanced to otherworldly levels when played on a turntable.
If you thought Burning Witch and that Wormphlegm demo were minimal, wait til you hear this. This is about as dooming as it gets, in the most truest sense of the word. While many modern death metal acts like Fear Factory and The Berzerker had to use triggered drumkits cos the speed (or lack of) that a human could play at limited their music, Earth have found that drums limit their music also - but not cause they can't go fast enough, but cause they can't be played slow enough! No matter how slow you play it, a beat is still a beat, and so for that very reason Earth completely disowned the idea of drums!
This is basically two (I think?) guitars, one bass, and absolute heaploads of fuzzing feedback. The riffs are so slow they sound like tectonic plate movement - this sounds much like the best parts of a band like Sunn O))), about 8 years earlier, and leaving out all the uselessness of a band like Sunn O))) too.
Sounds dull, yes? No. This is highly progressive music. The 'songs' don't have a beginning or end, they blend in to make one long piece of music, so if you weren't watching the timer you wouldn't know when one track ends and the next begins. The 'songs' (I hate that word in this context) don't follow a particular pattern either - one guitar will play some superslow riffs, repeat 'em a few times, while the other guitar and bass (in key) play something else, maybe something a little more thumpy and feedback-harboring.
Listening to this late at night on earphones is best. Close you eyes and let it take your mind on a bizarre journey into your psyche, deeper within you mind - each riff a simple, slight variation of the last. And most of the riffs are actually very memorable...'Seven Angels' has a very simple riff which evolves slowly and becomes it's full form at around 3:43 - a riff that Sabbath or Blue Cheer would be proud of, if they were maybe dinosaurs encaked in concrete.
To many this will be too difficult to listen to - it's very unnerving, very unwelcoming, very forbodding. But to a select few this will be a masterpiece, and a late night pleasure only this album or an astral journey could fulfill. Get this at your own risk.
Consisting of three very long and sprawling tracks totalling 73 minutes, this album must surely be the ultimate minimalist doom drone metal recording. On two tracks the only instruments that feature are electric guitar and bass guitar; on the third track there is percussion but even there the electric guitar and bass are the dominate instruments. All tracks are also completely instrumental and eschew obvious song-based structures and elements apart from repetitive riffing on one track (and even there it is not constant all the way through) so the music is very much like three exercises in exploring sound and texture. This means that listeners must follow the music fairly closely and when it goes on for such a long time, it becomes an exhausting experience to focus so much concentration. All you people out there who have short attention spans and can't listen to anything longer than 5 minutes, you can stop reading now!
The first track "Seven angels" is the easiest to assimilate than the others as it has a chugging rhythm and staccato riffing that anchor and give order to the music. Significant to the track, though I'm not sure how many people who listen to it will realise, is the background scratchy guitar noise that goes on and on and on: it's very like chirping crickets or cicadas at night, and after a while you don't even notice the pulsing noise but this is also an essential part of the track which helps to anchor it and give it identity.
"Teeth of lions rule the divine" is a very droning metal track in which molten riffs sort of rise and make themselves known for a brief bit before melting back into the slow-moving magma of sound. Again that background noise is important: you can hear swirling guitar arcs that almost form ghostly human voices (you'll swear!) and lont extended tones that almost seem to breathe. At times there is a sound like a churning wind that comes and goes. I wonder if this is the piece that inspired Earth fans Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley to form Sunn0))) as this sounds most like early Sunn0))) material and of course one of those guys had a project called "Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine". In spite of the length of this track (it's at least 27 minutes long), this is a very orderly piece of music: everything takes its proper time and is not overdone, and it's very atmospheric and spacey in its own way.
A soft drum- beat heralds the start of "Like gold and faceted" which is a gently and mellow 30-minute tone / drone piece - though I guess those really long solid blocks of sound could give some people headaches! - in which tambourines, cymbals and other clanking metal instruments play irregularly and faintly. The music is a slow juggernaut of sound which itself forms a medium for other noises like pulsing or whirling drones and clanging metal to pass through. Alternately you can think of it as a long drawn-out intro taking its own sweet dinosaurian time to get started, to let other sounds get out of the way first. As with the previous tracks, this music has a spacey, wide-horizon atmospheric quality - perhaps it's that background guitar whirring that sounds like a cosmic wind? - and there is also something hypnotic. Possibly the track is rather long in parts: there are sections where nothing much seems to happen - but I think maybe the musicians were striving for a particular kind of effect or mood which needs a fair amount of build-up and concentration to achieve.
If you're prepared to stick with this recording, you'll find it gives up its secrets and treasures slowly. You do need to be able to concentrate and follow it (and this may mean having to spin the album a few times) until you're in a trance-like state which effect Dylan Carlson and friends may have intended. This isn't a recording that lends itself to casual listening or as a background to some other activity. Pay the proper respect and you will be rewarded well!
The selection of photos on the CD sleeve which includes religious images, arrays of tablets and two men aiming their rifles directly at the viewer gives the album mystery and a sense of danger.
Earth are a weird band, for sure. I dug their split with Sunn O))), I loved their HEX album, and so I was fairly excited when I got this album. Unfortunately, like their ...Unsheathed Sword live album, it seems to me that while Earth can deliver mellow, hypnotic drone very well, they can't deliver the heavy stuff all that good, especcially compared to their many disciples (Sunn, Boris, Ocean etc..). What we have is here is a lot of slow, pounding riffs that while heavy, don't deliver any of the same atmosphere as those other bands.
The sound on this album is straight up drone, simply put. One big riff after the other. No percussion, no melody, no beat, no keyboards of any sort- this is drone doom at it's most basic and primal. Unfortunately, in a way it's just a bit too fast (in relative terms, of course) to create a mood. While I say it's a bit too 'fast' it's still extremely slow, of course, but the chords aren't given enough time to properly resonate. It's only on the last song that the tempo is slowed way, way down, and we're greeted with massive, dense walls of feedback and drone. It's no surprise that 'Like Gold and Faceted' is the best song on the album, though at over half an hour long it does drag on a bit. There's a bit of (incredibly quiet) drumming and some very subtle synths in this song, which really help it along.
For the most part however, we get super slow, downtuned riffs that don't go anywhere. Chances are, it's just me, and I don't quite understand. But with the exception of the last song, none of the riffs here create any sort of emotional response except for boredom. While I wouldn't say this album is a great piece of music, I guess I'd still suggest fans of drone buy it, as it was quite possibly the first drone album ever made, and because maybe I'm wrong, and it's awesome, who knows?
While Extra-Capsular Extraction was Earth's first album and showed the world what Drone could be, the aptly named Earth 2 was their masterpiece. If Extra-Capsular Extraction was revolutionary then Earth 2 caused the Fucking Armageddon. Redefining what people thought of as heavy and changing the Drone scene for ever. I will say that this album feels like a giant Tsunami is crushing down upon you over and over, but that is giving Tsunamis too much credit. This album WILL grab you by the balls, and anything else it can grab hold of, and will not let go until the 73 minutes of crushing Drone are up.
Like some modern Drone bands like Sunn 0))), the only things audible on this album are a ridiculously down-tuned guitar and bass, except Earth was doing it this way a decade earlier. No singing, no stupid keyboard interludes, no percussion, and not even a melody or beat. It will be devoid of rhythm and any sense of time if it were not for a number of riffs that are not like anything you have heard before. Think of a riff...any riff. How long is it, 5, 7 seconds? Imagine it stretched out to over a minute long. That should give you an indication of what these colossal riffs sound like.
It is a wonder how I am the first to review an album by these Drone Metal Gods. Definitely a band that needs more people to listen to them, and for under ten dollars on amazon you have no excuse not to get blown away by one of the best Drone Albums ever made.