"Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I"

By Earthdog

Earth return with a new album that shows not only are they still progressing and evolving but are still the leaders of the minimalistic doom aesthetic. What everyone wants to know is how does this sound compared with the "The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull" album? The difference is kind of perplexing and difficult to put in a few words. Being a fan of the band's early works, I can safely say, that sound is now almost gone as the band has now evolved into a much more atmospheric and atonal animal, something they got real close to once before with the "Hex" album. This leads to my one and only gripe about the album and that is the complete lack of memorable riffing. It is still a memorable album but it is certainly doesn't gain that status from the riffs. The album is memorable just from all the moods it evokes that change from day-to-day depending on your own personal state of mind at the time of sliding in the disc. The songs are more abstract than ever before with only one track ("Hell''s Winter") coming close to anything resembling the band's earlier, more accessible recordings.

Like most of Earth's albums, this one is to be appreciated as an entire piece of work and not a collection of different songs. The 5 songs that are here that stretch the album running time just past an hour flow one to another in a seamless soundtrack of musical explorations that are rich with different sound textures. The band is as hypnotic as ever and having Lori Goldston (Nirvana, David Byrne) on cello makes this album even more mesmerizing with her smooth harmonizing.

The trademark sound and style of the band is still there so it is easy to feel, the band is in repeat mode during some of this album. There are passages that sound like earlier works but those sections are easy to miss depending on how much you are in tune with the band's past catalog. There is also no real stand-out cut in my opinion. Rather, the album itself is the "highlight" but the 20 minute title track is the over-shadowing tour-de-force on the album. Blending eastern drones with old-school psychedelic sounds makes me think if some of those late 60's acid-rock records had have been made in the modern era, they could have sounded like this. The music on "Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I" is hazy and dreamy with no frightening moments really but a lot of introspective moments and meditative ambience. Along with the title track and "Hells Winter," the opening half of "Old Black" is the sound of the band at their best but the rest might make you feel a little restless. The band are the experts at doing some repetitive only to head off on an unexpected change of mood and sometimes it can feel disjointed at first but in typical Earth style, it soon becomes captivating.

I must admit the album lacks a certain tension and there is times where I feel the band is treading water ever so slightly. Seeing this is part 1 of a series suggests that this concept will continue to build and expand but we will have to wait and see about that. If you never liked Earth in the past, this album won't change anything but for purists, this is a worthy addition to their catalog and a great way to start 2011. This is already guaranteed a place in top 10 lists of 2011 but that is getting ahead of ourselves, isn't it? Where as most bands would be recycling themselves by this point in their career, Earth continue to astound with their ever progressing sound............8/10