Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Album Review: Earthless - Black Heaven

Black Heaven
*** out of *****

The newest studio release from the psych/stoner/metal outfit is a huge change for the power trio. For the first time in the band's career Earthless has moved from the instrumental realm to songs with  *gulp* actual vocals. Out of Black Heaven's six songs, four feature Isaiah Mitchell singing, something he hasn't done since the band covered Groundhog's "Cherry Red" back in 2007. 

Mitchell's vocals properly recall late bluesy hard rock 70's titans most instantly comparable to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple or Mountain, with not as much vocal range or firepower, but Mitchell presents himself favorably. Opener "Gifted By the Wind" is a groove statement track with nature influenced lyrics while both "End To End" and "Electric Flame" deal with post apocalyptic landscapes and the end of the human race. The lyrics for "Sudden End" are grounded in a sadder reality as Mitchell finished up his guitar parts while watch Netflix's 13 Reasons Why and the next morning Chris Cornell committed suicide, lending the song it's hefty lyrical weight.

While the singing is new and an exciting addition to Earthless's arsenal, this group is primarily about the riffs and pummeling rhythm section moving as one; thankfully that has not changed. "Electric Flame" is a monster, scrambling all over the speakers in crushing fashion. The style reigns in the group from their past wandering ways but even the brief instrumental "Volt Rush" has a propulsive energy that jumps out to the forefront.

Drummer Mario Rubalcaba and bassist Mike Eginton have a synergy as the plow ahead with sludgy riffs that never seem to drag, just listen to the kick off of the title track as huge behemoth gets moving. RtBE's personal favorites are still these blistering instrumentals but the bluesy take on heavy "Sudden End" is unique for Earthless as they dip into more conventional sounding riffs and stomps with plenty of room for Mitchell's soloing at over eight minutes. 

Earthless long, often sidetracked career has been on the fringes and Black Heaven may push them more into the metal mainstream with its compact blues rock heavy attack. While long time fans may yearn for more expansive jam based offering like the title track, this evolution of the trio is an unexpected and a mostly successful twist. 
Support the band, buy the album and peep some video below:

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