With a career that spans almost thirty years, nine full length albums under their belt and a claim to have been the main creative influence behind Sunn O))), Earth are pretty much a household name for those with even the slightest interest in drone and doom metal. Pioneers in the former of the two genres, Dylan Carlson has been stretching chords before it ever even occurred to Stephen O’Malley to stack his amps to near deafening heights.
Earth really gained traction in 2003, returning from a six year hiatus, this time with drummer Adrienne Davies in tow, the duo’s popularity snowballed, with an ever growing influx of musicians joining the band for brief periods. Members of Goblin, High on Fire, Melvins and Harvey Milk have all contributed to the rich textural nuances of Earth over the decades and Dylan and Adrienne have even collaborated with the likes of Sunn O))) and The Bug. However, it’s when Earth are stripped back to their very foundations that they’re at their best and ‘Full Upon Her Burning Lips’ is a welcome return to this core element.
While Carlson’s guitar work is certainly impressive, the unsung hero of this album is definitely Adrienne. The majority of drummers can blast beat until their legs are numb, however, the real talent remains in being able to maintain a slow and steady beat without faltering, resisting the urge to speed up. Effectively acting as the metronome for this release, the percussion is patient, measured and still rhythmic enough to remain interesting.
‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’ is often lauded as Earth’s greatest work and while ‘Full Upon…’ is slightly lacking in the luminosity that this opus embodied, stylistically it’s the closest they’ve dared venture to it in a long while. The repetitive riffs and unmistakable Dylan Carlson “twang” sit as a comfortable halfway marker between ‘Bees’ and ‘Primitive and Deadly’ – it seems almost a shame that Mark Lanegan hasn’t attributed his gravelly tones to this record too.
The more things change the more they stay the same, right? And never has a statement applied so truly to a band – while Earth continue to move forward and release new music the more they solidify their signature sound – the guitar tone is instantly recognisable and it will never not be a joy to hear. May Earth’s discography continue to be as unending as their musical loops.
(7.5/10 Angela Davey)