Earth and Pillars – Earth I (CD/digital via Avantgarde Music 25 November 2014; vinyl via Fallen Empire Records/Eisenwald, 21 February 2016)
Hey! Hope you’re having a good afternoon, everyone. Or at least, as good as can be expected on a Monday. As usual, I feel like I’ve been pretty much sleepwalking through work all day. I’m about to go grab another cup of coffee, then I’d like to tell you about this amazing album of transcendent, otherworldly black metal — Earth I, the debut by Italy’s Earth and Pillars. It’s got a lot of nuance and detail buried inside, and on repeated listens you can really dig deep and get lost in there. But if that’s not the sort of mood you’re in, you can just as easily just unfocus and let the overpowering waves of sound just rush over you. Either way, just don’t miss this record!
Earth I originally came out on CD and online near the end of 2014, and I’ve just received word that (as of last week) it’s now available on vinyl as well, in the lovely package pictured above.
Clocking in at just under six minutes, the first of these four tracks, “Earth,” is also the shortest. It introduces the album with long, drawn-out sustained notes and chords that start out nearly inaudible and then increase gradually — as if an orchestra were playing something inside a huge concert hall at the end of the block as you slowly walk towards it. On reaching the door and opening it, we transition to “Rivers” — the first of three lengthier tracks that comprise the remainder of the album. These — “Rivers,” along with “Lakes” and “Tides” — run about 17, 12, and 17 minutes (respectively) in the original release; in order to fit onto a standard LP, a few minutes had to be shaved off of the two “B-side” songs in the new edition.
All three songs are presented in a fairly similar style, with enough variations (sound effects of crashing waves during “Tides,” ethereal shimmery noises that periodically appear in “Lakes”, etc.) to distinguish between them. In general, each song is made up of countless layers of guitars and synths, an infinite number of inversions of the same chord piled on top of each other, enough to fill any amount of space into which the sound is poured — as mentioned earlier, you can just bathe in it and let it altogether overcome everything. These layers are stacked upon a foundation of drums — a furious flurry of beats, which maintain a constant pulsating forward motion, just like the sweeping of waves or the running of a river. Through some sort of engineering miracle, even though each track is awash with such an overwhelming amount of sound, plus drenched in endless reverb, nevertheless each individual cymbal crash and snare hit can be picked out of the mix, with hardly any effort on the part of the listener, a clarity which is truly a modern marvel, all things considered.
And finally, throughout all of this, here and there some vocals manage to insinuate themselves somewhere in the sonic maelström that’s happening; harsh, raspy, wispy vocals that serve more as another element within all the chaos rather than as a separate entity of their own. The combination of all of these ingredients blur together, forming into a warm flood that encompasses, overwhelms, and threatens to suffocate.
You can buy a digital download here, the CD from Avantgarde (Italy) here, and the LP in blue or black vinyl from Fallen Empire (USA) here or from Eisenwald (Germany) here; you can also preview the album using the Bandcamp player below:
* * * * * * *