“Black Heaven” by Earthless lies somewhere between Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult, and really, that’s all I should need to write to convince you that you need to hear this record. It’s a hard rock Sabbath, drenched in space rock craziness, that often sounds like the live jams hard rock bands would do in the 70’s. There’s a bit of the craziness of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream mixed in, and some hints of the harder Zeppelin songs, and the production has that live feel (especially the drums) that make the music sound organic. It’s heavy but never stiff, and the band plays with a great grooving feel.
In a departure from the earlier Earthless records, “Black Heaven” features 6 songs, none of them breaking the 9 minute mark. In fact, one instrumental, “Volt Rush”, comes in under 2 minutes! But more importantly, the album features vocals on a sizeable portion of the music. “It wasn’t a premeditated thing to do a record with vocals,” drummer Mario Rubalcaba explains. “On the older records, Mike (Eginton, bass) was responsible for a lot of the riffs that would start these jams, but on this one Isaiah (Mitchell, guitars and vocals) really brought his own pizazz and flavour to it. I’d say that’s one of the major differences on this album: It has more of Isaiah’s input. He took a risk bringing these ideas to us, not knowing if we’d like them. But as with everything we’ve done in the past, it felt very organic and natural.”
I’m not familiar with Earthless’ earlier material, to be honest, but “Black Heaven” doesn’t sound like a band experimenting with shorter song structures and vocals. The material is punchy, well structured, and the instrumental sections are just long enough to never overstay their welcome. Mitchell’s voice is not spectacular, but it has that Ozzy-esque droning tone that suits the music perfectly.
I loved this record from the moment I pressed play. If you like 70’s rock, or stoner rock, you need to hear “Black Heaven”.
Earthless is playing l’Astral in Montreal with Kikagaku Moyo, Jjuujjuui on March 15 2018. Tickets are 25$.
He's also a regular contributor at the excellent news site Montreal Rampage
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