Reviews Earth The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull

Earth

The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull

Luckily for fans of Earth, Dylan Carlson and company are very productive of late with Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, Hibernaculum, and a host of smaller releases all being released within the last three or so years. This is a tremendous increase in recorded activity for the band considering how long they have been active. The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull is Earth's sixth or seventh full-length, depending on what one considers Hibernaculum, and it is a further refinement of the style and sound that Carlson has been exploring and showcasing on their last two significant studio records. The album also features guest guitar work courtesy of Bill Frisell, a Grammy award winning jazz guitarist that has worked with a multitude and wide variety of musicians including John Zorn and Ryuichi Sakamoto, on a number of pieces.

The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull finds Earth in excellent form right from the sublimely exquisite "Omens and Portents I: The Driver," which besides the obvious inclusion of the occasional distorted guitar (for the most part absent since the group's resurgence of activity) displays a superb Hammond B-3 background and some exemplary wah composition. The music seems to exist in sheets of cascading sound that does not hamper the quiet nor does it overtake the sonic journey that the track takes the listener. "Rise to Glory" intones a slow but still evident hook that deceives listeners with a faux pop sensibility while employing more layers of sound (giving the song some triumphant sounds at its peaks) than what I remember on their last two major records, and all of this contributes to the evidence that Earth continues to explore this musical trajectory with much gusto. The band also proceeds to add to musical conversations from other records with "Miami Morning Coming Down II (Shine)" which obviously follows Earth's reinterpretation of the song found on last year's Hibernaculum. The song sounds anguished as any crying, desperate man could be while begging for his life, and I am not sure if I would call this the crown jewel of this set of songs but there is a definite case to be made. The obvious darker tone heard in "Engine of Ruin" compliments the guitar leads (that frankly soar at times) wonderfully while Adrienne Davies' steady and understated contributions speak volumes of her restraint as a drummer; there are times in the song where the band definitely reincorporates subtle bits of feedback and distortion.

"Omens and Portents II: Carrion Crow" takes the intensity down a notch for the album, but spreads the intensity out over longer stretches rather than the peaks and valleys of emotion present in other parts of The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull. There is further respite from the heady emotional depth of the record in "Hung from the Moon" where the lighter and more delicate tones produce a bit more of a conventional melodic quality to the song. It works like a charm when the track is put into the context of the rest of the album in that it provides musical qualities not found elsewhere. The title track actually closes The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull bringing the rest of the pieces together very well with a continued melodic worth but still maintaining an indescribable sense of other with the subtle droning sounds and reserved squeals of feedback; as the song slowly comes to crescendo bits of piano and nuanced percussive elements belie an element of sophistication that fades out in a droning quiet of ghost like timbre.

The emotional intensity of The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull is truly quite breathtaking and even though the band continues the musical trajectory of the last several records, Earth finds a way to further explore the musical musings that they seem intent to convey. A truly amazing aspect of the music is the conversational tone and quality that the band communicates through their obvious command of the style of sound, which they employ. The complex layers of sound corroborate the increasing complexity following the deconstruction of their music evident on Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method while still maintaining a deceiving façade in the simplicity of Earth's compositions. Can this album be called unique? I am not sure that I can answer that question, but I can say that it is definitely a rewarding listening experience that draws individuals into its thrall as only the most intriguing movie can.

9.0 / 10Bob
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9.0 / 10

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