Earth & Richard Bishop, Vienna Szene Wien, 24 February 2008

A very strong concert at the Szene Wien last night by American drone-metallers Earth. The music unfolded at a slow, rigidly controlled pace and barely deviated from it throughout, shaped by the funereal pulse of the drums and the colossal hum of Dylan Carlson’s guitar. Carlson spoke little except to introduce the songs, but he was an impressive onstage figure, looking like he’d walked in from a Tarantino film with his long moustache and slicked back hair. As a guitarist he was a picture of concentration, holding the neck high and gazing fixedly at the strings while playing with a surprising delicacy and finesse.

The group were clearly making an attempt to lighten their sound with the inclusion of keyboard and trombone patterns. Others may disagree, but I could easily have done without these embellishments; they were an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction from the group’s perversely inspiring core sound. I also found myself wishing for slightly more thump from the drums. These reservations notwithstanding, Earth proved themselves to be an uncannily potent force.

Early birds had the good fortune to witness former Sun City Girl Richard Bishop on solo electric guitar. He’s an awesomely talented player, and it was great to see that his mighty technique never descended into empty-headed twiddling. Instead, the music swarmed hectically around the hall, with clouds of notes emerging and resolving into beautifully complex configurations.

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