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Album Review
Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II

Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
by Earth

Southern Lord Records

Review Date
23rd March 2012
Reviewed by
Martyn Pepperell

Early in 2010, the most recent iteration of Earth, guitarist-come-sometimes singer Dylan Carlson's lionised drone metal collective, made camp for two weeks with engineer Stuart Hallerman at Avast Recording Co in Seattle. With the band settled into a quartet configuration, which aside from Carlson, included drummer Adrienne Davies, cellist Lori Goldston and bassist Karl Blau, they set about recording two records Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I and Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II.

Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I saw Earth stepping back several albums to expand upon the stark, blue infected sonic visions evident in their 2005 album release Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method. Pairing their wall-of-sound down into a cleanly toned series of intricate compositional marathons, it set the scene for the sepia-toned improvisational cycle of songs on Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II. At crux, both records represent a different route towards conveying the same message, music which speaks to the inhuman speed of historical geographic movement best described as glacial time.

In line with this ethos, at this stage in Earth's trajectory, while having once upon a time peddled music which shared structural similarities with both the heavy and speed variants of metal, the sludgy feature length song forms present on Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II now feel closer aligned the intrinsically countrysidesque drone compositions of Richard Skelton and his peers. Guitar textures alternate between cleanly toned and decayed with grit, cello lines slowly slide in and out of the music, moving like monolith slabs of ice, or even supposedly more monolithic luxury cruise liners, headed toward certain fate in iceberg bearing waters. Bass forms a dense, rolling landscape and Davies drum work takes a more forward mixed, or central space, driving the conversation between players with steady yet understated momentum.

The vivid countryside feels evident across the record, are also illuminated by a sense of magic realism or perhaps occult mystery. You can hear this otherness in Carlson's guitar on 'Sigil of Brass', Blau's foggy bass lines on 'His Teeth Did Shine Brightly' Goldston's cello work on 'Waltz (A Multiplicity of Doors' and countless other spaces across the albums forty five minute and fifty hour seconds of running time. In part, this beyond-the-veil feeling could perhaps be attributed to Carlson's growing interest in British folklore, especially in terms of haunted spaces and personal encounters with ghostly entities, topics he addresses at depth on his personal blog.

With the mood set clearly in a haunted, filmic space for the first four songs on the record, where things really get weird is on the albums unexpected coda 'The Rakehell', in which through inserting New Orleans style funk tonality into the mix, Earth enter a new location, one relevant, explorative, and surprisingly easy to accept into their artistic oeuvre. Much like the vast majority of the Earth output, this is a record fashioned to last the millennial ages, music built to feed the true believers and attract new fans.


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