Earth - The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
Southern Lord
Blues-influenced doom/drone
7 songs (53:25)
Release year: 2008
Southern Lord
Reviewed by Charles
This could be seen as a somewhat surprising album from Earth, for those of us that were introduced to the band through records such as their debut, a pioneering work of "drone" metal, which defied normal artistic pressures to actually "do" anything, and concentrated on lulling the listener into a kind of hypnotic state. In doing so, of course, it also laid the groundwork for more recent experimenters with the ultra-slow, such as Sunn 0)))) and Khanate. But recent albums such as Hibernaculum clearly pointed in this direction, with slow, deep, and subtle melodies increasingly emerging out of the murky trance, and so preceding this record, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull.

It's really something quite special. What is immediately striking is how thick and powerful the sound is. A great many of the instrumental lines here are frequently shared in unison by a rich-toned guitar and a piano, or bass, and are almost permanently underlayed by deep reverberating thuds of sustained sound. At times this rich mix is further complicated by the appearance of more instrumentation, such as the organ on Miami Morning Coming Down II.

A second factor which is further developed here following Hibernaculum, is rhythmic drive, which here takes an important role. Every track has a clear, steady, and almost foot-tapping (if obviously pretty slow) pulse. This serves the band's heavily bluesy impulses particularly well, and indeed these shine through to become a huge part of the album. Engine of Ruin, for example, a real highlight, is entirely based around the recycling of a vivid and strong blues riff, around which guitar licks have seemingly free rein to circle.

As most scenes do, it seems that as drone has aged and become more artistically credible, it has also expended its horizons greatly, and Earth deserve a great deal of thanks for this. Whilst we may associate releases such as this with bands such as the aforementioned Sunn 0)))) due to the influence of Earth in that particular corner of music, in actual fact they now use similar ideas and principles (i.e. repetition and crushing slowness) to generate an entirely different musical experience and range of emotions. Whilst other acts (Sunn, Khanate, or the UK's Esoteric) are often discussed in terms of grandiose and epic analogy, being compared to planets colliding or tectonic plates moving, this album is more personal and emotionally uplifting, to the extent that it reminds me more of artists such as Jesu at times. The richness of its sound and the sometimes mournful, sometimes bluesy power of its riffs make this an elevating musical experience that hits you emotionally, rather than impresses you with its ground-shaking immensity. The closing title track, in particular, is authenitcally gentle and even comforting, giving the sense of some kind of new personal dawn.

This album is excellent, and should appeal to people far beyond the normal parameters of the drone scene. There isn't anybody else that sounds like this, and for that alone the band could be applauded. But when the music produced is this mesmerising, it becomes something of a must hear for anyone with a passing interest in what can be done with drone/doom.

Killing Songs :
Charles quoted 89 / 100
Other albums by Earth that we have reviewed:
Earth - A Bureaucratic Desire For Extra Capsular Extraction reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I reviewed by Jaime and quoted 89 / 100
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