Review Summary: The greatest story never told.
Previous to the release of the Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place, Explosions in the Sky were an instrumental rock band that created sweet melodies and crushing rock outbursts. This is still the case, but with their third release they became so much more.
The Earth... contains five tracks that each last for over eight minutes, but that's not important, for once the first crescendo looms in First Breath After Coma, all structures and contrivences are forgotten. It's difficult to imagine four band members together discussing and constructing each guitar melody, each drum beat and each climb when preparing this album. The reason for this is the organic pace journeyed in the music, such that it appears to have exuded from one poet's emotional depths. Many excellent instrumental post-rock bands (and Explosions in the Sky themselves in more recent instances) repeat beautiful musical motifs before launching into new rhythms or dynamic climaxes, all with the intent of keeping the listener enthralled and entertained; it is carefully calculated. The Earth... is a musical score that doesn't feel like it ever had a creator, it simply feels. This is not to say that all other albums are just works of marketing prowes -- although that may have become the case in the aftermath of this album's popularity -- it is just that no other album quite hits your emotional G-spot for 45 minutes straight like this one (Mono's Hymn to the Immortal Wind might come close). Not only is The Earth... an organic portrait of a band's most heartfelt emotions; it can also become the soundtrack to your emotions, if you let it.
Explosions in the Sky play narrative music -- the aura shifts and weaves dynamically throughout the course of each song, as well as the album overall, like classical music for modern generations. In this album there are no words, and there is no film to overlay the soundtrack (check out the Friday Night Lights OST for that -- also brilliant); instead storylines are painted in the ever-changing tone of the music. When in a relaxed and lesser-conscious state, the mind may wander into dream-like territory, creating its own stories and journeys from raw emotion. For this, The Earth... is a most potent catalyst. Each listen to the The Earth... conjures new stories and emotions from within, and that's something really unique.
Despite its power, the music here is actually very simple. The entirity of The Earth... is comprised of basic electric guitars and drums, and there are no unusual or creative production techniques on display. As a result, this album is not exactly a demonstration of musical talent or engineering competence, however every noted that is played is done so with perfection. The guitars hit their highs and lows at just the right time, and the music shows restraint for just long enough such that you feel the anticipation in your gut but are never consciously aware of it. At no point during this album do Explosions in the Sky give you a moment of pause to think about what you're experiencing or predict what's to come. When listening to this album your mind will wander to realms it's never explored, and it's something you can't control.