“You can get really high on one of our albums for $15 and you don’t have to feel paranoid carrying it around either. You don’t need to take drugs-our music is drugs.” And so says Isaiah Mitchell, guitarist and one of the driving forces of San Diego psychadelic/stoner/trip rock group Earthless, of the band’s latest album, From the ages. You can scoff at that aforementioned quote all you like, but just take in a slice of the hour-long journey and you’ll soon be converted to the band’s everlong, far-reaching musical frontiers made up of adrenaline-fuelled grooves, out-of-control solos and an atmosphere which takes you out of this world and spits you into a completely different universe.
Yes, it’s that good. Whilst each of the four songs on From the ages aren’t necessarily “songs” in the conventional form (As a matter of fact, they’re more closely linked in terms of structure to jam sessions), they certainly never seem to end. Fourteen-minute opener “Violence of the red sea” hits hard from the get-go, a head-spinning whirlwind consisting of as many solos as some two-decade old bands would have struggled to produce in their entire career. Here there are drums that thunder great aggression and excellent double-bass into the listener’s ears. There are bass-lines which, if played at the highest volume, give the impression they’re actually making the earth’s crust crumble to mere molecules. There are no vocals, but who the hell needs them with instrumentation like this? The two songs which succeed “Violence of the red sea”, “Uluru rock” and the shortest song of the album by far, “Equus october”, both have a more gradual, tenser style throughout, but still keep hammering loudness and heaviness out of the stereo. The constant transitions between slow-burning, relaxing groove-based rhythms and distorted, almost wailing guitar riffs never manage to fail the songs’ overall quality, and for that reason also, it adds to an already mammoth-sized atmosphere. The drum work seems to get better and stronger with every growing minute, becoming faster and more violent as Mitchell twists and turns from one crunching riff to the next.
The obvious opus of From the ages is, however, the half ‘n’ hour long title track. Clocking in at no more than a gargantuan thirty-one minutes, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is going to drone on and on to fill the time. Yet from the moment that Mitchell begins to strum an instantly memorable and driving riff, those negative thoughts can safely be quashed. The title track, like the three songs that precede it, varies throughout both in terms of style and pace. Each and every band member (and let’s face it, there are only three) manages to show off their talented chops, attempting to and succeeding at eviscerating the excellence of the album’s first three tracks by taking you on a journey, which, by the end of the song, you hope will never ends. Guitars are heavier than ever before, drums batter with the power and strength of a mechanical bull, bass-lines rumble to a startlingly epic finish. And when all three instruments come together towards the end to make for a slightly more atmospheric albeit no less raw sound, it all begins to make sense and you’ll perhaps be wondering why you ever questioned any aspect of the band’s sound.
Put simply, From the ages is an exercise in taking the listener on a universal, musical journey, which is done in such a way as to make you hope that it will never end. It lacks vocals, of course, and some will be put off by the fact that these four songs are merely more of a jam session. But that can easily be ignored when instrumentation is done as spot on as this. If you choose to embark on Earthless’ latest trip around the universe, hold on to your heads, because it’s going to be a rather wild one.
1. Violence of the red sea
2. Uluru rock
3. Equus October
4. From the ages