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Let me first admit something. Like everybody else, the first Earth album I heard was Earth 2. And like most people with an open mind and a great tolerance for repetitive sounds, I enjoyed the fuck out of it. There was just something somewhat mystical and otherworldly about the atmosphere that was being created. I read another review that described Earth 2 as being the sonic equivalent of being forced through a small space. I can agree with this, however I want to expand on it. Imagine some great force has got a hold of your cranial mass during Seven Angels and Teeth of Lions, and then during the space into Like Gold & Faceted, this somehow strong universal force begins to get stronger and stronger until you can almost no longer bear it, or get over that state and become one with the drone. It's beautiful, really.
When Phase 3: Thrones & Dominions was released, it seemed like a totally different Earth. Sure, Divine & Bright may have hinted towards the riffy, distorted, repetitive grooves, but after the monstrosity of Earth 2 it really didn't seem like the next step. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Phase 3. Like most studio Earth offerings, it's amazing. Just different.
Pentastar goes further with the rock style, this time including a drummer for quite a large chunk of the record. Where Phase 3 had a mix of long ass power drones (Site Specific, Phase 3, and Thrones & Dominions) and short(ish) basic rock songs, Pentastar has lots more fleshed out rock songs and just a couple ambient tracks. Oh, let me add this as well. The first time I heard Pentastar on vinyl, and I highly fucking suggest doing so. Sub-Pop recently reissued all the earlier Earth recordings on vinyl, so pick it up if you can. Anyways, on with it. Hearing Pentastar for the first time, I couldn't help but think just how solid of an effort it was, and still is. It's so solid I'm gonna do an impromptu song-by-song.
No introduction needed, really. The chord progression that every Earth fan has grown to know and love, it immediately sets up the mood of the album. A fine start.
A quicker song and a great second track, this simple two riff almost country song features four whopping verses of vocals from Carlson. Absolutely stellar, can't really say much more.
Crooked Axis For String Quartet:
This is an interesting meditative ambient piece. Like the title says, it features four stringed intruments, and is the first of the three ambient tracks.
This is the greatest coupling of songs ever. The riff that kicks in after Crooked Axis is incredible, and for some strange reason I've decided these songs were meant to be together. Look at the lyrics (oh yeah, this is the only other song to have vocals, awesome).
The world it spins on a crooked axis
Left it twitchin' by the road
Anyways. This song just rules, and if you can find the video for this song you'll thank yourself. I still don't know why this song hasn't been in any crime movies.
Charioteer (Temple Song)
Another ambient track, which definitely sounds like it could have been on Phase 3. One riff, three guitars, five minutes. It's very eastern sounding and thus quite soothing.
Peace In Mississippi:
A Hendrix cover. With a great guitar solo. I'm speechless about this song actually. You need to hear it for yourself.
Sonar & Depth Charge:
Thee most minimal track on the entire album, a solid 7 minutes of just two chords played on a piano. Very quiet, very trancey, and bound to annoy the shit out of people with short attention spans. Beautiful.
Coda Maestoso in F(flat) Minor:
Hey! It's that riff that we all love. This is the version of the song they have been playing on their current Hex/Bees tours, and bloody rights. This is a fantastic song, complete with a little lead guitar break out and some organs. Ultimate.
I've heard lots of negative reactions towards Pentastar, but honestly, I don't see what's to dislike. It has that special Dylan Carlson touch, and it seems much more thought out than Phase 3 (which is amazing in it's own right). It's an album that has rang true for many people I've showed it to, who have all seemed to dig the stoner vibe that oozes forth. Most importantly, it rings true to me, and will be something I will listen to continually as long as record players are still in production.