Earthless, Live At Roadburn

Earthless, Live At Roadburn

Earthless is a power trio from San Diego that plays instrumental Japanese-style psychedelic rock. The band features Nebula guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, Electric Nazarene bass player Mike Eginton, and Rocket from the Crypt/Hot Snakes/Clikitat Ikatowi drummer Mario Rubalcaba. The songs on their album Live at Roadburn sometimes have the flow of free jazz, switching feel and groove almost instinctually, but the melodies are straightforward rock. The guitar player borrows liberally from Jimi Henrix, which is no bad thing, but the band has a much heavier sound, more like Black Sabbath. There’s one word that describes Earthless: epic. Everything they do, from the length of the songs, to the energy with which they play, to their technical ability, is heroically epic.

Their songs are organized into loose-feeling suites, but the band makes little distinction between sections, or even individual songs, considering that the first track is over 45 minutes long. They also have incredible endurance, driving their songs with the same energy at the end of each song as when they started. If nothing else, technically speaking they’re highly proficient, which this kind of music demands. They’ve found a really interesting balance between precise, driven rocking and a more free, savage expression, and the songs wander between both of those poles.

The songs are epics, with each track comprised of two songs. The melodies are hypnotic and primordial, with lots of droning riffs, but also switching things up with solos before it gets boring. “Blue/From The Ages” starts out with a beautiful driving midtempo melody, with a droning bass part, before moving into a faster, more punk-like feel, with a epic phased guitar solo Jimi Hendrix would have been proud of, and finally into a 12/8 section — and that’s just one song — “Blue,” the first half of the first track. The rest of the songs are equally as detailed and fascinating, including some cool doubled guitar riffs and wild double-time drum playing under a blazing AC/DC-style riff. The guitar player is also careful not to use all of the effects all the time, using each of them judiciously throughout the album.

This kind of stuff can be difficult to do, especially without having a vocalist. What saves Earthless is that Mitchell has a good head for melodies — his playing is very catchy and melodic, and never overly virtuosic like metal usually is. Live At Roadburn sounds like all of your favorite heroic ’60s guitar solos combined into one song. Earthless is a lot of fun.

(Tee Pee Records -- 30-98 Crescent St., Apt. A1, Astoria, NY. 11102; http://www.teepeerecords.com/; Earthless -- http://www.myspace.com/earthless)
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Review by . Review posted Monday, May 24th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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