On Earth’s previous album, Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light I, the band embarked on a bit of a new sonic direction. The heaviness of “Seven Angels,” from their 1993 album Earth 2, or the title track from their 2009 album, The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull, remained, but with a much cleaner guitar tone than on past recordings. At first, I wasn’t really feeling it, but the more I listened to “Demons of Light I,” the more it grew on me. Songs like “Old Black” and “Father Midnight” feel just as at home in the Earth catalogue as their more ambient stuff like “Thrones and Dominions.”
The varieties of sonic landscapes guitarist Dylan Carlson and company have crafted over the years are what I’ve appreciated most about listening to Earth. You can listen to two songs, from two sonically different parts of the spectrum, but still feel a kind of unity holding them together. I’ve been looking forward to Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II for more of Earth’s new sound.
The clean guitar tones of Demons of Light I are present here on this album, but there is a much more subdued feeling throughout. Both the heaviness of my favorite Earth tracks from the past and the warmth of their ambient material are missing from this. Without the punch of their heavy material or the soothing feeling of their ambient material, what remains feels flat compared to previous albums.
The first two tracks, “Sigil Of Brass” and “His Teeth Did Brightly Shine” sound like the intros to Earth songs, but without the rest of the song to go with them. While starting out a bit weak, the album does get better. The track “A Multiplicity Of Doors” is a new classic hopefully destined to become a staple in the band’s live set. Carlson’s guitar fades to a backing role for most of this track, with the haunting, wavering cello of Lori Goldston occupying center stage. Her beautiful cello lead rubs like a bow on the heartstrings, and you can’t help but be moved.
“The Corascene Dog” is an interesting track for the interplay between Carlson’s guitar and Goldston’s cello. There’s a sense of almost dueling instruments, but in a very subtle manner. The almost back and forth interplay between them throughout keeps the track interesting throughout its nearly nine minutes.
The album closes with “The Rakehell,” a track with Carlson’s guitar once more leading the sound. The track is very somber compared to the emotional intensity of “A Multiplicity Of Doors,” as the overall feeling is very dark and moody. Carlson’s leads invoke the blues at moments, heightening this vibe. While the song doesn’t quite have the same power as “A Multiplicity of Doors,” I consider it the second-best track on the album.
I think the biggest disappointment of Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II is how unnecessary it seems that it was made a separate album. If the chaff of the opening tracks had been dropped, the three remaining songs on this could easily have been added to Demons of Light I, making for a single solid release. As it stands, I think this album is worth checking out, but I’m not as crazy for it as past Earth albums.
(Southern Lord Recordings, PO Box 291967, Los Angeles, CA 90029)