InstrumentalityAfter a while, you start to pick up on key words and phrases in promo e-mails that will help you sort things out. There are certain words that are meaningless, but then there are words that say “download now” and others that say “you can safely delete this.” As far as I’m concerned, “instrumental” is an easy ticket to the trash bin. It’s not that I hate all instrumental music—it’s just that the odds of it being interesting all the way through are next to nothing. You can only go about 15 minutes without before I start to lose interest.
I will make exceptions for a known entity, and even though I knew Earth is an instrumental band, I still kind of like them. Earth manages to show up in both my “Smooth & Heavy” iTunes radio station as well as my “Dark Americana” station, and it fits well in both places. So I forgive them for lack of vocals because they are a rare band who combine my disparate musical interests.
Now imagine my surprise when I hear them with vocals.
Three out of the six songs on Primitive and Deadly feature vocalists. One has a smoky female vocalist I’ve never heard of (Rabia Shaheen Qazi), while the other two feature Mark Lanegan. Lanegan’s name shows up again and again if you’re delving into dark Americana, and may be familiar to old-school grunge fans.
Now, as good as the vocals are, and as well as they suit the music, the vocal songs aren’t even the best ones on here. I can love an instrumental song, I just don’t want to listen to a whole record full of them. The non-instrumental tracks help with the ebb and flow of things here, keeping your interest while the band’s heavy, smooth, desert rock slowly carries you away. Much like Across Tundras, this is Western film soundtrack as interpreted by a doom metal band. Check out “Rooks Across the Gate” (featuring Lanegan) and “Even Hell Has Its Heroes” (an instrumental with meandering guitar solos) to find out whether you want to hear more. Or just start with opener “Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon,” lie back, and relax.
The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars