Black Heaven by EarthlessRelease date: March 16, 2018
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
A fresh approach does not always have to be an arduous re-inventing the wheel task, but instead it can be so obviously simplistic in its form it still comes as a surprise and shock when enacted. For California’s instrumental psych power jammers Earthless they have decided to implement a significant amendment to their fire blazing solos, and riffy rock outs, as guitarist Isaiah Mitchell unleashes his singing chops in full glorious fashion for 4th album Black Heaven.
Having previously covered The Groundhogs’ ‘Cherry Red’, the diehards will have had been given some clue as to how it might all sound if incorporated into their own material. It turns out to be a revelatory move as Black Heaven is bursting both with creativity and exhilarating in its delivery. But, fear not, air guitar enthusiasts, as they still jam an almighty strong flavoured punch.
Another decision, which may not attract the same attention, but equally inspiring is the band chose to head out to the Rancho De La Luna studios in Joshua Tree, California, famed for the recordings of respected heavyweights Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and Masters of Reality. This honoured studio’s location and its desert rock vibe may well have indeed seeped into Earthless’ hearts and bones.
What we do get is a blast of the highest order of early 70’s care-free proto-metal, rollicking grooves, electric psych rock out vibes and stoner rock drive. For the uninitiated, this is for fans of all the afore-mentioned legendary artists and for those who love the Riding Easy Records fantastic Brown Acid compilation series as well as the band’s self-confessed influences of the Allman Brothers, James Gang, ZZ Top, and probably the most obvious, Cream. In other words, all you rockers out there, conquer mountains, cross oceans, if you have to but pin your ears to the speakers and hear this.
Fellow Echoes and Dust writer Martyn Coppack, in his recent Wedge album review, wrote rock is indeed timeless so no need to re-trudge the often-used retro category (let the debate commence!). When the music is as good as it is on Black Heaven timeless is the perfect description and this album wholeheartedly supports Martyn’s claim (it’s timeless to me but I thought it is simply because I am a middle aged plus old git who adores rock n roll).
Wherever you sit on the retro/timeless debate, from the opening hi-hat, wah wah guitar of the power chord driven album opener ‘Gifted By The Wind’ it transports you partly back in time but, more importantly, into another realm which great rock music has that ability to take you: a respite from any personal, social worries or problems. Whether it is the hip-swinging rhythm and groove of ‘End To End’, the propulsive riff in ‘Electric Flame’ or the two instrumentals: the short zestful and appropriately named ‘Volt Rush’ and the mind melting, sparks flying, vigorous ferocity of the stunning title track.
Earthless power their way through five tracks of rock n roll wonder to leave you absolutely, breathless. And by the time you get to the 6th track and album closer you are thankful for the toning down of the high voltage rampage, as the sublime, graceful, Kings X-ish (creators themselves of some very fine timeless rock) closer ’Sudden End’ rounds off a very impressive album.
Black Heaven is an album which makes this rocker puff out his chest and shout excitedly ‘I’m a rocker, and I’m proud of it!’. Hats off! Raise horns! indeed, to Earthless.