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Earth: Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II

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  • Dylan Carlson's drone legends continue to age with grace.
  • published
    27 Feb 2012
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    Earth
    Southern Lord
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Available on: Southern Lord LP

Earth continue the laden-voyage of their Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light release with its second part, recorded during the same two-week improvisational period as its predecessor. While still exploring the same combination of electric guitars and bass, cello and percussion as Part I, this latter half could be regarded as more subdued and thoughtful in comparison.

The guitar distortion is thinner throughout this second album, giving a more country-blues tone, and – while it is difficult to pin down the exact differences – there appears to be more emphasis on pedal tones throughout its melodies. While the first album always returned to a tonal anchor in its mood-spun riffs, it shifted harmonically more readily than its later cousin, by comparison now seeming almost impatient and hurried. Instead, the strain invoked by Part II’s elements over a similarly slow tempo creates a certain world-weariness, a conservation of energy and emotion.

‘Sigil of Brass’ slowly unfolds proceedings in a surprisingly bright, pleasant manner, a short introduction to the general mixture of warmth and dryness that is continued throughout the record. ‘His Teeth Did Brightly Shine’ follows with a steady, stoic trek through an arid landscape, the stringed instruments providing such a solid pulse that it is easy to forget there are no drums present, just hushed rattles and shakers. As the track progresses, melodies are warped through occasional slide whinnying and harmonies working against the root drone, discordant and concordant smudging creating a narrative.

‘Multiplicity of Doors’ makes prominent use of the cello, plenty of scratchy and wavering harmonics and double stops setting a taut, despairing tone. Drums slowly swing like the head of a dehydrated horse through a haze of ride cymbals, and while guitars provide weight, it is this cello lead role that carries the piece, its bruised but self-assured melancholy confidently speaking out over the amps.

‘The Corascene Dog’ leaves behind some of the anguish to lilt and wander with an appropriately feral, stray dog-like curiosity. Guitars and cello all work together around the simple frame of the drums to explore a particular combined melody, taking it in turns to pick out detail, occasional cello moments being the main time anything is allowed to rise harmonically out of the drone. ‘The Rakehell’ then finishes the record with a blues-like track most reminiscent of the first album. It has the quickest pace and shorter-celled repetitive riff, the guitars and bass a mixture of thicker overdrive and slow, clean wah to add wetness to the crunch.

Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II is the sound of old rope; tough, unassuming, stained and shined with use. It is certainly every bit its predecessor, but through a more meditative, contemplative use of elements it is even better.

Steve Shaw

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