Like a fine wine, the work of Dylan Carlson only appears to get better with age. Clichéd comparison? Sure, but extremely apt nonetheless. While Earth’s original run of records are nothing to sniff at, the run of records from Earth since 2005’s HEX; or Printing in the Infernal Method has been some of their finest, with each following record maintaining a strong consistency for the drone doom stalwarts.
Every record has been easily identifiable as Earth, but also with its own faint unique flairs. Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull was a “busier” record than most, while the two-parter Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light, glossed with the gorgeous cello playing of Lori Goldston, were gloomier records by comparison. This brings us to the newest offering, Primitive and Deadly.
It’s as apt an album title that you can get, as this is the most instinctual that Earth have sounded in years, adding another wrinkle to the band’s dynamic, with slightly pacier riffs and an altogether heavier vibe. Though make no mistake, Earth still sound very much like Earth, and while there’s more pace, it’s still slow and methodical record by most standards, just with a little more grit than before.
Cover Art by Samantha Muljat
What sets Primitive and Deadly apart from the rest of the Earth canon is the inclusion of vocals, a drastic change in how the band does business, being instrumental for 99% of their careers. This clearly wasn’t a flippant decision of course, as the guest vocals on hand have been carefully chosen, one of which is Mark Lanegan, contributing vocals to two tracks, ‘There Is A Serpent Coming’ and ‘Rooks Across The Gate’. Lanegan doesn’t rock the boat in any way, marrying his unmistakeable croon to Earth’s lethargic riffs to supreme effect.
The other vocalist that makes their presence felt on Primitive and Deadly is Rabi Shabeen Qazi, another Seattle native and singer with psych band Rose Windows. Her ethereal drawl, like a mix of Jex Thoth with grungy undertones, features on ‘From the Zodiacal Light’ and is an utter triumph. While the rest of the album features Earth at their usual instrumental self, and tracks like ‘Badgers Bane’ are languid but captivating, the natural meshing of these vocal collaborations has actually stolen the show on Primitive and Deadly.