Let’s start by stating the obvious: Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II is a world away from Earth’s pivotal album Earth 2; we are, after all, experiencing the second-coming of Earth. However this new incarnation shares many similarities with the version of the band that helped to pioneer the drone and doom genres – the songs are still long, simply structured and feature repetitive riffs but where Dylan Carlson once hypnotised his audience with distorted, raga-like Neanderthal chugs of electric guitar, the new Earth takes a softer approach to subdue and conquer the minds of their audience.
For some people Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I was another example of Earth’s second-wave albums being too plain and, in many ways, too nice to constitute being Earth albums. After all, Carlson was the motherfucker who pretty much single-handedly invented drone metal – where was the fuzz, where was the dark, brooding atmosphere? I’m sure for some people the 2007 re-imagining of Earth’s seminal 1991 opus “Ouroboros is Broken” took the biscuit, but it was a clear statement of intent from a band reborn. The band had come full-circle and the music was no longer the expression of one man but of a collaborative collection of musicians.
Like Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I, Part II has a loose, improvisational feel to it, the band seemingly finding a basic, gentle groove in each of the songs and going with it until it has run its course. On “His Teeth Did Brightly Shine” the band occupy a menacing, restless folky space, Carlson’s guitar meandering closely around a simple riff. “Multiplicity of Doors” is a more sombre, elegant affair, the cymbal washes of drummer Adrienne Davies providing a distinctly jazzy feel, particularly in combination with the drone of Lori Goldston’s cello which, at times, sound eerily like some jazz horn.
I think the most striking element of these albums is the debt that Earth seem to owe to post-rock bands like Do Make Say Think and Aerial M, particularly in the sense of inertia and ennui that the band seems to revel in exploring (“The Corascene Dog”). But those who would call this a departure from the band’s roots should consider what Earth are doing now as a more meditative, contemplative extension of their early work. There’s still a singular mind at work here, but now it’s the collective consciousness of a group of like-minded musicians, embellished by the expanded musical palette that collaboration inevitably involves. Final track “The Rakehell”, for example, sounds like a combination of Can and The Doors with Neil Young handling lead guitar duties, while somehow maintaining a dull heaviness that is at the heart of much of Carlson’s work.
Hardcore fans of Earth’s early work will have either embraced or ignored the band since their triumphant and unexpected return in 2005. There’s certainly something to be said for considering them as two different bands, so different is their approach pre- and post- Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method. But Earth still manage to cast the same majestic spell regardless of what method they use to conjure it. This is not a mind-blowing album by any means – certainly not like Earth 2 was all those years ago – but it’s one that will take you on a pleasant diversion akin to a daydream or falling into the arms of slumber. And that’s a good thing.
Scribed by: Tom McKibbin