Review Summary: Blood Meridian shows that it is not just some postmodern Western tale, but is a great influence to an excellent drone album.
Beige, dusty sand blows across an arid desert marked only by the occasional throng of cacti. The hissing of rattlesnakes is a routine alarm that blends in with the howling wind that picks up sand and launches it far from its original position. Here in this desert, it is unbearably hot; beads of sweat form even when one is inactive. A spell of fatigue is as common as the sun setting every night; it is the most uncomfortable land to live in. So it is no surprise that living in this hostile land is a daily struggle for survival, and, subsequently, could turn the most polite woman into a contemptible shrew. Therefore, it is as equally surprising that one could succumb to insanity. Hallucinations could commence, and those howling winds and rattlesnakes' hisses could become the jazziest tones of the longest duration. So creating a score relative to this landscape would seem to be difficult, right? Well some bands are out to prove us wrong. For example, Earth, the grandfathers of drone metal, would never be a band you'd expect to create the score to this scenario, but, surprisingly enough, they have.
Departing from their first three studio albums, Earth has made some changes to their music in terms of coherency and originality. Whilst the tracks on Earth's previous works seemed to work best individually rather than as a complete album, now the tracks have the equal impact whether you listen to them individually or as a complete album. And now, tracks do not meander as they did once before, but they seem to have an exciting direction. Case in point, “An Inquest Concerning Teeth” features a phenomenally timed note progression and leads to one giant climax. This song features what seems to be a banjo, and there's a harmonic feedback that occupies most of this track. The band continues on this more experimental route, combining their signature slow-paced, bleak sound with a more atmospheric and innovative soundscape, Earth continues to show how much they have changed.
“Land Of Some Other Order” shows the band's competency at both of their newfound influences. The music still retains that signature bite that Earth has given us since their formation in 1990, but is effective at incorporating their new instrumental innovation no doubt inspired by a scenario similar to the aforementioned. “Rainford (The Fellow Wind)” is based off of elongated notes and distortion. Notes become the focal point of this track by its end, and it proves the be the most intense aural assault featured on this album. However, do not mark this as the least creative track, as the soft-loud dynamics that litter Mogwai's discography have the same effect here whilst including their drone, jazz, and country influences; not once does the mix become incoherent, tedious, or displeasing.
Marked by a vast expanse of dynamics, absolutely no vocals whatsoever, a series of dramatic sustained notes, and a sense of coherency retained throughout, Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method
stands out to be not only one of the most spacious, elegant albums crafted by the hands of Earth, but one of the most spacious elegant albums of the past decade as well. Not only is this release a departure from their previous catalog in terms of innovation and coherency. Whilst their early works were just the beginning of a now thriving sub-sub-genre, they now are experimenting further, incorporating strong elements borrowed from past jazz and country artists. Although this heightened sense of creativity may seem like it would detract from the coherency of the music, the polar is true. In every way pertaining to coherency and experimentation, this album is an improvement, and in subsequent action the final result is one excellent album.
FINAL RATING: 4.1/5-Blood Meridian shows that it is not just some postmodern Western tale, but it is also a great influence to an excellent drone album.