Earth, HEX; or Printing in the Infernal Method (2005)
I think it’s safe to call Earth‘s HEX; or Printing in the Infernal Method one of the most pivotal albums of its decade. Released 11 years ago now in 2005 by Southern Lord, it not only marked the Seattle outfit’s first studio full-length since 1996’s also-essential Pentastar: In the Style of Demons and their fourth album overall (not counting a slew of live releases), but it set in motion a new phase of the long-running instrumental band’s progression that continues to evolve over a decade later while also casting out a massive influence over underground heavy rock. At this point, there are atmospheric-minded groups the world over drawing from what Earth accomplished in tracks like “Raiford (The Felon Wind)” who don’t even know they’re doing it. Itself working heavily off of Neil Young‘s Dead Man soundtrack, it’s become part of the pastiche of darker post-rock, heavy Americana and, of course, drone, which is the tag with which Earth are most often saddled, rightly or not.
But HEX; or Printing in the Infernal Method has more to offer than a blueprint other bands have (understandably) followed. From the opening role of “Mirage” through the minimalist melancholia of “Tethered to the Polestar,” it is Earth proffering a style of immersion that is entirely their own, capturing something evocative and wistful without words or cliche, without losing themselves in indulgence or letting go of the ambience of the work as a whole. It’s not an easy record to keep up with by any means — sometimes it can feel so still it’s like you’re looking at tiny ripples on a lake, or, perhaps more fitting to the mood, a breeze blowing across the top of overgrown grass — but the subtlety with which Earth, which at the time was comprised solely of founding guitarist Dylan Carlson and drummer Adrienne Davies, enact the broad, sweeping scope of tracks like “The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves” and the downward sloping “An Inquest Concerning Teeth” only enhances the effect of those songs and the rest of those around them. It is a landmark both for the band and for a swath of genres.
As noted, Earth have hardly kept still since. In addition to touring heavily, sundry splits and live albums and revisits of older works, they would go on to issue The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (discussed here), which brought rich color into a changing soundscape, and the 2011/2012 pair Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (review here) and Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II (review here), which would introduce some of the British folk elements to Earth‘s sound that they’d continue to explore on 2014’s lush Primitive and Deadly (review here) and which would become crucial as well to Carlson‘s solo work under the moniker Drcarlsonalbion, most recently the full-length Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion, which he released last month following a successful crowdfunding campaign for the physical pressing.
I hope you enjoy.
Next week, look out for streams from Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, Nathanael Larochette, Swamp Witch and probably more. Still also want to get High Fighter and Colour Haze reviews going as well, and I’ve got an interview with Laura Dolan from Electric Citizen to get posted as well as an Obelisk Questionnaire from David Rodgers of Godhunter and the Southwest Terror Fest in the can, so one way or another it’ll be a full week. Also news and videos and all the rest of that good stuff.
I said as much yesterday on Thee Facebooks, but thank you for your continued support of this site. It’s been a crazy month or so with starting the new job and everything surrounding that, but I cannot tell you how far this project goes toward keeping me sane and I deeply, deeply appreciate your ongoing interest, encouragement and involvement in it. Thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you.
Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.