Bands like Black Sabbath and the Melvins made it OK to “drone” within the realm of heavy metal, but this approach wasn’t fully explored until Earth hit the scene in the early ’90s. Led by guitarist Dylan Carlson, what sets the band apart from the rest of the doom metal pack is that Earth almost always completely bypasses vocals — usually focusing entirely on a few plodding notes per song — as evidenced by their 2005 release (and first for the Southern Lord label), Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method. Once more (as on Earth’s previous release, Living in the Gleam of an Unseathed Sword), Carlson is teamed with drummer Adrienne Davies, while several other guest instrumentalists supply bass, lap/pedal steel guitar, and even trombone and tubular bells. Imagine what a soundtrack to a film about the earth’s early days would sound like, and Hex is pretty darn close, just from the song titles alone — “Land of Some Other Order,” “Left in the Desert,” “The Dry Lake,” and so on. Certainly not the type of album you’d put on in your car when you want to zip along the freeway, but fans of doom metal with an interesting twist will certainly approve.

-Greg Prato

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