Review: Earth’s "Extra-Capsular Extraction"

I haven’t written much of anything about Earth, the revolutionary for their time drone doom metal outfit from the great northwest. One might take for granted such outfits as SUNN O))) or Boris, especially if one were to ignore that Earth pioneered the sound. But anyway, I’ve listened to the majority of Earth’s disco and I think “Extra-Capsular Extraction” is about my favorite release; it is among the heaviest and most contemporaneously inovative drone doom records I’ve heard. Here’s a breakdown of the record track-by-track.

The first track, “A Bureaucratic Desire For Revenge Part 1,”causes the listener to become incapacitated by the thunderous sound almost immediately. The track lasts for a little over seven minutes, and for the entire time the song builds a structure of chaos that holds the listener in a trance. As it begins, the main riff repeats unchanging for an interminable period of time. But this repetition acts well to cement the listener in the droney trance beauty of the song. The heaviness quite literally causes your bowels to shift. (As a side note, I always chuckle when I hear Thrash Metal or Black Metal fans say a song is “heavy,” especially when they are talking about a super fast riff or speedy, double-kick drums. Earth defines heavy, [let me say that again: Earth DEFINES heavy] as most of their music is oppressive and literally heavy on the body, not just the ears) As the song continues, the slow steady riff places the reader in a supplicant position as it pushes one way, then the other without any clear direction or hope for crescendo, solo, words, or even ending. It has structure without having structure. The song lifts the listener up into a state of liminality because the song itself is in a state of liminality, without clear structure or bounds, pushing itself and you toward oblivion. But, because of its visceral intensity, the song ends before you feel it should, and as it does you feel like a coke head who has been told he has had his last hit. You want more. “A Bureaucratic Desire For Revenge Part 1” ends abruptly and without recompense for its listeners.

In a state of withdrawal, the listener experiences a twinkle blinking from the void, and so erupts “A Bureaucratic Desire For Revenge Part 2,” as it begins to bring the desolated listener back to a state of consciousness. Is this drug music? Yeah, but isn’t all good music more similar to sex or a good hit than sugar sweet Bo Diddley or Britney Spears’ attempts at pop music immortality? Well, as does the first track, the second track places the listener firmly in a position of emotional extreme. I would characterize it as doom, although some people might call the feeling ecstasy. Doom and ecstasy can be two very closely related feelings though. As the track builds, the listener feels, along with the doom, a feeling of floating while sinking at the same time. The sound, black and seething, driven by a fading guitar, paradoxically builds into a wall of drone-goodness. And strangely, the doom envelops the listener even more fully when the vocals occur. For some drone music, vocals seem to deter from the trance-catalyzing aspects of the music, but not in this song. The vocals incur the feeling of evil and demons welling up in the music, even the listener. They cause a synesthetic rapture of grey sounds and black happiness. Death and life become an abstraction out of the corner of one’s eye.

The next track,”Ouroboros Is Broken,” similar to the first two tracks, crushes weightily around the listener, one can see how all three tracks of “Extra-Capsular Extraction” form a whole. “Ouroboros Is Broken” is the resolution as it walks away from you, leaving you to contemplate the psychic destruction you’ve felt. It is at this point that the listener must contemplate him or herself. In many ways this disc is catharsis for true music listeners. One may contemplate one’s soul, emotions, and even place in this thing we call “reality.” Unlike later albums released by Earth, like “Earth 2,” which is ridiculously heavy as well, “Extra-Capsular Extraction” has a soul that reflects the listener’s own state of being, and allows that same listener to contemplate his or her emotions. Emotions are often felt in their extremes, just as this album inhabits extreme places, aesthetically, musically, and lyrically. As I mention above, many “metal” albums are espoused as being loud or heavy, but not playing “Extra-Capsular Extraction” at extreme volume is like looking at Monet or Goya, well, with the lights off. There’s no other way to experience this music besides by playing it extremely loudly. Your knees are supposed to tremble, your throat is supposed to get tight, and tears, quite honestly, ought to flow.

Earth - Extra-Capsular Extraction

This entry was posted in Album Review, Commentary, Doom Metal.

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