Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Album Review: Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II

Album Rating: C+
For fans of drone, no band can beat out Earth in terms of prestige.  For the past several years the band has been a defining force in the genre, creating classics such as Earth 2 and Phase 3.  But after an extended (almost decade long) hiatus, Earth returned as if they'd never left.  However, with this advent came a shift in sound; a subtle attraction towards a more melodic presentation.  This has peaked with the band's one-two punch of Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light.

Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I dropped almost exactly one year ago, and with it, the realization of Earth's softer, more psychedelic sound.  Spacy guitar and languid bass filled the album's legthy runtime with well constructed melodies and peculiar atmospheres.  For the most part, the second half of the project changes very little.  The entire album sounds a tad less murky and, well, metal, but it's replaced with a more prominent cello, as well as an overall lighter tone.  It's a fantastic compliment to one of last year's stranger offerings (although rather normal compared to other Earth albums), but that's where it falls short.  Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II is a fine record, but it feels merely half-formed; a smaller piece of a larger whole.  Where its predecessor seemed much more sure of itself as a stand alone release, this album feels much, much weaker.

That isn't to say that what we have here is a poor release, quite the contrary.  A lot of what is here is truly interesting.  The solem cello featured in "A Multiplicity of Doors" sounds otherworldy, and outright beautiful.  But the problem lies in how very much alike everything else sounds.  Aside from the stringed instrument, the track is just like every other song--flat, meandering and without personality.  And yes, there is a great misunderstanding when it comes to this sort of music that it all should sound slightly homogenous.  However, as the band's older material displays, there can be a lot of dynamics and character within the massive structures.  Yet, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II doesn't really display that.

Earth, with their combined two album project, have made a wonderful psychedelic drone suite.  The two pieces are stronger together, however, as seen with the second half.  But when digested as a whole, the listener is treated to one of the finest releases of it kind in some time.


Track List:
1. Sigil of Brass
2. His Teeth Did Brightly Shine
3. Multiplicity of Doors
4. The Corascene Dog
5. The Rakehell

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