• earthless Black Heaven (140g vinyl LP, £16.25)

    label: Nuclear Blast

    Guess what? Earthless has a surprise for you. Whereas the band’s three previous albums featured anywhere from two to four completely instrumental space rock jams, the California trio’s fourth and latest, Black Heaven, is nothing like that. “It’s quite different,” drummer Mario Rubalcaba says with a laugh. “It has six songs, and most importantly it has vocals on about 70 percent of the record. There goes being pigeonholed as an instrumental band, I guess…” Of Black Heaven’s six tracks, only two are instrumental. And one of those instrumentals is less than two minutes long. “It wasn’t a premeditated thing to do a record with vocals,” Rubalcaba explains. “On the older records, Mike was responsible for a lot of the riffs that would start these jams, but on this one Isaiah really brought his own pizazz and flavour to it.” When Rubalcaba, Mitchell and bassist Mike Eginton started Earthless in 2001 as a psychedelic instrumental band, they were constantly asked, Are you guys looking for a singer? “That was the joke for years,” Rubalcaba laughs. “But we’ve always known Isaiah could sing. He’s got a great voice.” While the band’s lysergic leanings are fully intact, Black Heaven takes on a more classic rock hue than previous outings. “For me personally, the psychedelic thing is pretty important,” Rubalcaba offers. “But I’m not sure if we’ll always be on the crazier side of things musically. Even on this record, there are moments when it’s more psyched-out, but we’ve always been really big fans of classic rock stuff like ZZ Top, James Gang, Allman Brothers—and of course, Cream. There would be no Earthless if it wasn’t for Cream. They’re like the great-grandfathers of power trios.” After working out the new material, Earthless rolled out to the famed Rancho de la Luna Studios in Joshua Tree, California, where illustrious desert rock denizens such as Queens Of The Stone Age, Kyuss and Masters Of Reality cut some of their weirdest and wildest work. Owned and operated by Eagles Of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching, the studio is the stuff of legend. It’s safe to say that Earthless got some sand in their shoes—and their tunes—thanks to Rancho’s unconventional setup. “That desert vibe really sunk into this record even more than I thought it would,” Rubalcaba concedes. “I don’t think it sounds like a ‘desert rock’ record per se, but Rancho really brought that feel into what we were playing a little bit more.” Black Heaven is a game changer for Earthless. Nobody is more aware of this than the band members themselves. But they also know this: You’ll never get anywhere if you’re running in place. “I’m sure there will be some people who have come to expect the big gargantuan space rock jams, and I don’t know if they’ll be into this or not,” Rubalcaba admits. “But I’m ready to deal with a little bit of disappointment from people who just want the freakout stuff. At the same time, I think people are gonna enjoy hearing a different side of us.” Track Listing: Side A:1.Gifted By The Wind (1:53)/2.End To End (5:17)/3.Electric Flame (8:51) Side B:1.Volt Rush (1:53)/2.Black Heaven (8:45)/3.Sudden End (8:27)


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