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Prologue to later miniimalist Earth drone doom - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 26th, 2007

First release for what was in 1991 a trio (Dylan Carlson, Dave Harwell, Joe Preston) and already the Earth plan of attack on doom metal is taking shape: slowed-down guitar riffs (but not that much slowed-down) that are long and drawn-out, a primitive minimalist attitude to structuring songs with a huge emphasis on repetition and unconventional percussion, in this case programmed drumming from Joe Preston who would go on to refine his technique in his Thrones project. The two "A Bureaucratic Desire for Revenge" tracks are pretty much the same: slow, steady, monotonous and repeating guitar riffs and equally plodding drum machine thunk-thunk beats with the occasional metal clank-clank trundling over the same melodic territory. At least Part 2 of "A Bureaucratic Desire ..." features vocals, and very tuneless and monotonous singing from Dylan Carlson at that (in contrast to the style of singing common to doom metal in the early 1990s) and background screaming from guest musician Kelly Canary. (Oh, and just in case you didn't already know, Kurt Cobain guests on guitar and possibly the backing vocals instead of Canary.) The music is shambling and endless with a deep and powerful sound.

The third track "Ouroboros Is Broken" has more defined but still slow riffs. The percussion is more dramatic with synthesised gong bonging though these tones get boring and tedious after a while. The majority of this track (15 minutes out of its 18) is circular as befits the track title: just one riff of three notes repeats over and over and over. Any variations in this section (and they are present!) are so subtle as to be more sensed than heard. Teasing hints that the music will soon end are tossed to listeners but no, the musicians continue to carve out their particular deep groove until, indeed, when you are on the floor prostrate from numbed brain cells, the Ouroboros groove is broken.

I'm surprised that I'm the first person to review this EP, seeing that Kurt Cobain features on it and Sub Pop has been flogging anything and everything by Earth that has Kurt Cobain's fingerprints somewhere, so maybe the recording is really hard to find or people can't find enough to comment on due to the repetition, the music's primitive nature and the fact that the musicians don't give much away. The EP is easier on the ear than later Earth recordings though not by much and the drumming makes it more accessible to metal folks than it would be otherwise so it's best viewed as a prologue to Earth's first full-length album which goes much further than what you hear here in deconstructing doom metal and its elements.

I find it interesting that on the back of the CD sleeve there's a list of surgical instruments and anaesthetics which to me is a reflection of the music being very matter-of-fact clinical and obsessively retreading the same raw bleeding riffs as though it means to keep exposing a raw wound.