Thursday, May 05, 2011

Earth: Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (2011)


I keep wanting to like drone. I test the waters now and then, and very rarely come away with anything I truly enjoy. But I keep coming back to it, because it seems like something I should like, but I'm just missing something.

Angels of Darkness Demons of Light 1Drone developed simultaneously in Japan and in Washington state. Earth is sometimes credited as the original drone band in the US. Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I is only their sixth full-length, although they've had quite a few minor releases. And I think I'm finally starting to "get" drone, at least a little bit, thanks to its progenitors.

I could go into detail about the ultra-clear but natural sounding production, and how you can feel the air getting pushed out of the bass drum. I could gush over the textures of the subtly-used cello throughout the album, or comment on the cool whammy bar touch on the opening track. I could complain about the lack of vocals. But that misses the point. This is all about the vibe.

The real standout on this album is opener "Old Black", which has a western movie soundtrack feel. You can picture the scenes before and after the showdown, with the hero riding away, onlookers speechless. That western vibe is repeated on "Hell's Winter". There's a cool bluesy vibe to "Father Midnight", and the cello produces a very east-Asian feel to the title track, matching the cover art to the music nicely. I like all of these tracks, but I'm only crazy about the opener. I'm not sure what they were going for on "Descent to the Zenith", and I don't really like it. But the bottom line is, this is all-instrumental music, lasting just over an hour, and I've listened to it a half-dozen times without getting bored. I'd say that's at least a partial success, even if the music is still better suited to background purposes.

The Verdict: The sound of this album is excellent, and the vibe works most of the time. I'm still not sure I completely get it, but I feel like I'm starting to. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. I don't care for drone at all and I'm not terribly bothered by it.

  2. Earth is a very strange band, who have evolved so much over 20 years. I do really like A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction, recently re-released on Southern Lord, which is basically their earliest material. It has more obvious links to metal than their later, more country-ish stuff. Thinking back to your post on speakers/headphones, I think you need to listen to most drone, especially Sunn 0))) and early Earth, on really high quality equipment with a lot of bass.

    I do plan on checking this out though.