It feels like an eternity since the world has had their face melted by new Earthless material. At least the gents of the California psychedelic rock band did not let anyone down with their latest release. Black Heaven was produced by Dave Catching at the infamous Rancho de La Luna in Joshua Tree, and released under the Nuclear Blast label March 16th of this year. The six-song record is a departure from the band’s usual instrumental music yet still brings the tasty juices and jams that Earthless fans have come to expect.
Opening the trip is “Gifted by the Wind.” The song has a menacing groove delivered by Mike Eginton on bass. With a wicked-dirty tone, Eginton locks perfectly into drummer Mario Rubalcaba’s driving rhythm. The voice of guitarist Isaiah Mitchell only adds to the swagger. It comes in and hits you in the face while also laying down a sweet layer of melodies over the raunchy instrumentation. The track wouldn’t be complete without a vulgar display of power on behalf of Mitchell and his guitar. The wild, wild solo in this song is brought to life by the black magic of the talk-box. It’s always super exciting to hear new sounds from a band right off the top of an album.
However, all the greatness of the opening track could not prepare anyone for the next song. Originally released as a single in 2016 on the Baker Skateboards EP, “End to End” now gets a proper introduction as part of this new album. The song starts off with some hazy feedback which clears like clouds in the sky to give way to the sun which then unforgivingly melts right through your skull. It’s as heavy as a blues mojo could get. Hearing the riff will have you rocking your head instantly while your balls gain a few pounds. Mitchell’s melody is raw and reminiscent of the tones of Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde. It is easily my favourite track of the album.
Still recovering from the madness of the previous track, “Electric Flame” comes in and takes your prisoner. At this point, odds are you’re locked into this album. The doomsday vibes that come out through Mitchell’s lyrics burn through your soul as the aggressive tones and riffs weigh you down like the weight of a planet. For anybody looking to capture a mix of that “classic” Earthless trip, this song is the longest, clocking in at eight minutes and 51 seconds, most of which is filled with wild cosmic jams and guitar riffage. Things just keep on going up, following this monster song with a short instrumental kick “Volt Rush.” It’s exactly as the title suggests, a fast-paced rush that injects you with the substance required for any human to possibly make it out of this trip alive.
The title track “Black Heaven” is a darker follow up. The long instrumental track brings more of those Earthless jams to the forefront. The sporadic, heavy energy of this song will definitely unhinge your mind and have you lost in the cosmos of the jams. As you manage to get a grip after it wraps up, you’re rewarded with the slow, laid-back song “Sudden End,” which serves as a great song to touch down on as it gently washes you back onto shore.
Earthless proves yet again that it’s quality over quantity. The six songs on the track list are arranged in such a way that they really help create a smooth and organic trip. It’s fantastic to see that a band that already gets so much praise continues to work and push their sound and musicianship. If you thought you had Earthless figured out, you couldn’t be more wrong. Eat this album up and enjoy discovering new layers that this great trio has to offer. If this is your first exposure to the band, holy shit are you in for a ride.
Written by Ben Cornel
*edited by Kate Erickson