Lightning Bolt Earthly Delights(Load) Buy it from Insound
Earthly Delights, Lightning Bolt’s fifth album, represents somewhat of a branching out for the fabled noise band. They’ve pulled in some noticeable drone and sludge metal influences into their hectic style; oddly enough, they also seem to be strangely influenced by country and western (Funny Farm) and Indian Raga music (Rain on Lake I’m Swimming In). The good news is that these influences only add some much welcome diversity to their at times almost too-repetitive soundscape. As a two-piece consisting of drums and bass, it was inevitable that the band at some point would have to start switching up their sound.
Ask a fan for a description of Lightning Bolt’s music, and you’re more likely to hear what the band does—pick some brain crushing groove and just beat the shit out of it. They’re more like what post-punk bands like Fugazi would have been if they focused less on developing the crazy musical potential the punk movement had and more on taking its gleefully anarchic spirit and attitude to new sonic heights.
And this is the reason why a lot of Lightning Bolt’s pros can be seen as cons. Their chugging riffs, splattering beats, screeching amps, and in-your-face musical approach aren’t for everyone. But, for those of us that find beauty in things exuding a primal musical elegance, Lightning Bolt’s new album hardly disappoints.
Gibson’s riffs occupy the low-end a lot more than previous releases. He seems more interested in cramming in some deep and sticky riffs in-between Chippendale’s frantic beats. This gives the new release a much more groove-based feel than the earlier albums. Thankfully, the high-ended bass noodling hasn’t completely gone the way of the dinosaur. On the album’s penultimate track S.O.S. a blast of noise precedes three minutes of batshit insanity as impressive as anything they’ve ever recorded.
So here goes my vain attempt to put a label on this shining mess: this can be best described as Lightning Bolt’s prog album. Earthly Delights incorporates so many different types of music so schizophrenically, yet it hardly ever teeters towards falling apart. Actually, the band’s music seems a lot more tighter this go-round. When on earlier releases Lightning Bolt had a tendency to take repetitious riffs and stretch them out for way too long, this time they seem to keep this urge a little more in check. The instances where the band sticks on a single riff for a long while, such as on the sludge-metal influenced track Colossus, seem to have some clear purpose behind them that benefits from the repetitiveness.
Some tracks definitely suffer from the band’s usual repetitiveness, however. Tracks like Nation of Boar and Transmissionary just go on and on and ON. Transmissionary is twelve minutes long (about a quarter of the record) of variations on essentially the same riff. Stuff like this begins to grate over the course of 50 minutes.
These flaws don’t overshadow the album’s great moments, however, and this should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever given a Lightning Bolt album a listen before. There are enough new influences in Earthly Delights to make the album a worthwhile edition to band’s legacy. Despite the tendency of some tracks to go on for way too long, the album is most definitely their most concise release yet, and also their most stylistically diverse. The band’s greatest weakness is also their greatest strength—they’re far more interested in testing out how far they can take their music than stopping where others might feel like they’ve gone too far. Earthly Delights shows that they have yet to exhaust their uncanny vision.31 October, 2009 - 17:56 — Preston Bernstein