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Earth | Hibernaculum | review | metal | Lollipop


Hibernaculum (Southern Lord)
by Brian Varney

Hibernaculum could accurately be called a compilation, but as with all things Earth, such descriptions don't tell the whole story. A quick run-through for those not currently on the Earth wagon: First of all, Earth is Dylan Carlson the same way The Fall is Mark E. Smith. Other folks can and do join in along the way, but Carlson's the one constant throughout the band's history. The band signed to Sub Pop in the early '90s and released three or four albums that contained varying amounts of guitars droning through very loud amps (the title of the band's live album, Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars, pretty much says it all). Earth developed a small but very rabid cult following, but to the record geek populace at large, the band was known (when they were known at all) for things like Carlson's friendship with Kurt Cobain, or the fact that they reportedly hold the record for the worst-selling Sub Pop release of all time.

In any case, the band more or less disappeared after 1996's Pentastar: In the Style of Demons, presumed gone for good. However, after almost a decade in hiding, rumblings of the band's rebirth began to be heard, and in 2005, a radically different-sounding Earth released what many, this writer included, consider their finest release, Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method. New instrumentation lent a decidedly American Western feel to the proceedings: Clean of tone, slow and menacing, this was a soundtrack to an unrealized film version of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.

Hibernaculum, which could also be regarded as a companion piece to Hex, reimagines three earlier Earth pieces in the Hex style, and the results are surprisingly compelling. I wouldn't have imagined the early stuff fitting so well into this style, but they seem very much at home in such surroundings. The fourth track, "A Plague of Angels," appeared on a tour-only split 12" with sunn0))) that probably sells for fifty billion dollars on ebay.

The accompanying DVD, Within the Drone, follows the band's European tour with sunno))), intercutting live performances with Carlson interview footage. Unfortunately, this disc does not fare as well as its companion. The live stuff is pleasant enough, but you won't really get anything from watching that you wouldn't from merely listening to the records. The interviews with Carlson, I hate to say, are simply dull. He's not an especially captivating personality, and his monologues, while they may occasionally contain an interesting insight or two, are mumbled in a monotone voice that effectively dulls whatever engagement one might have with his words.


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