Earth // Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — It’s alright
Label: Southern Lord
Websites: thronesanddominions.com | facebook.com/thronesanddominions
Release Dates: US: 02.14.2012 | EU: 2012.02.13
To those in the know, the arrival of a new Earth record comes with a lot of baggage, mostly due to bandleader Dylan Carlson’s well-known personal struggles and his infamous role in Kurt Cobain’s untimely demise. More significantly, there’s the fact that Earth’s recent output is surprisingly laid back, and bears almost no resemblance to their pioneering doom-drone works of the ’90s. Old-school Earth fans can forgive Carlson for giving Kurt that shotgun, but they cannot abide by this mellow hippie shit, man. So with the release of Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II, the question becomes: will Carlson a) give the people what they want, or b) continue with the current musical direction, unencumbered by giving a fuck about what people think?
Well, the correct answer is B. Like Angels part I, and most of Earth‘s output since their 2005 comeback (the band took an 8-year hiatus which Carlson bluntly chalked up to “legal and drug problems”), Angels… II has very little to do with doom metal, or any kind of heavy music for that matter. In fact, it’s barely music at all, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. The tracks here are ridiculously minimalist, with no vocals, very little drumming, and literally nothing in the way of actual song structure or dynamics. Angels II is so sparse that it feels like it could float away at any time.
As with the first part of Angels… the lineup on this album includes Adrienne Davies on drums and Lori Goldston (of Nirvana Unplugged fame) on cello, while Karl Blau provides bass this time around. The actual musicians are almost irrelevant though, the instruments blend together to the extent that it’s hard to tell who exactly is playing what.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I usually enjoy music that has a little more going on than this. When I first hit play on Angels… II, I sat there for about 20 minutes, waiting for something to, you know, happen. But after a few listens, I gradually began to see the greater purpose here. This stuff is more about space than time, a bit like looking at a painting. The painting itself doesn’t change, but given the chance to stare at it for a while, you begin to notice and appreciate things. If life was an ’80s video game [If only… – AMG], Angels… II would be the music that happens when you hit the pause button.
For what it’s worth, the sounds achieved here are incredibly natural and often gorgeous. Carlson’s guitar tone is particularly impressive, very Americana and almost twangy without being annoying. This album sounds like it was recorded in a remote log cabin somewhere, perhaps with a fireplace burning. You can almost smell the forest air coming out of your speakers. As with Earth‘s entire discography, though, this isn’t for everyone. To most of you, this album will sound like Neil Young tuning his guitar for 45 minutes. Angels… part II may not be my thing either, but there’s definitely something here to be appreciated. And for those of you who enjoyed Angels… part I, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, or any of Earth‘s recent output, you’ll probably like this too.