REVIEW: Earth @ The Old Market, 16/11/19

Metal duo Earth come to Brighton to captivate audience at The Old Market

Two people stand facing away from each other, a man on the left and a woman on the right

There is no denying the significance of Earth in the underground music scene. Guitarist David Carlson and drummer Adrienne Davies debuted almost 30 years ago with Earth 2. An album which paved the way for many metal bands with its chugging, groaning guitars and lo-fi production. The band have never been afraid to venture into new territory. Their sophomore album Pentastar features brighter production and groovier riffs. More recent projects see the band incorporating strings and vocals into their songs. Earth’s evolution as a band has been a winding road of styles and ideas. I was interested to see what they would do on their latest album, Full Upon Her Burning Lips, which they performed at The Old Market.

My interest was heightened by the cellist Helen Money, who opened for the band. She cleverly used effects to manipulate the cello’s sound, allowing her to play heavy, thudding low notes and screeching high notes. Her set was both terrifying and atmospheric, almost like the score of a horror film, and she set the bar high for Earth.

It was clear from the first song, Cats On The Briar, that Earth have once again headed in a new musical direction. The song was more reminiscent of psychedelic rock than doom metal, and so were many of the songs that followed. On this new album, Earth have reduced their sound to nothing but distorted guitars and sluggish drums. They are pushing repetition to its limits. Unfortunately, I think there were moments where they pushed it too far. Songs such as An Unnatural Carousel lacked a sense of progression and stumbled into a monotonous pattern. I felt some impatience from some people in the crowd who were just waiting for the next song. However, other songs were patient and captivating. I found myself hypnotised by the seemingly endless repetition. As did the rest of the crowd, who swayed ominously to Davies’ steady drums.

There was also a surprising yet subtle amount of versatility in their set. A Wretched Country Of Dusk featured an eccentric melody that cut through Carlson’s droning riffs. The Colour Of Poison was more groovy and loose. Carlson interestingly muted the chords after playing them rather than letting them ring out. The Mandrake’s Hymn, with its soaring riffs and delicate percussion, was a strangely uplifting moment. Such subtle changes felt refreshing among the unwavering repetition of Earth’s music, and it was received well by their fans. Despite a few tedious moments, the concert was an almost surreal experience that celebrated the simplicity of rock and metal.

Orlando Glendenning

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