Earth Credit: James Rexroad

With the recent Full Upon Her Burning Lips, the three-decade career of Seattle drone band Earth seems to have come full circle: the record’s minimalist style is reminiscent of their 1991 debut EP, Extra-Capsular Extraction. Founded by guitarist Dylan Carlson in 1989, Earth helped pioneer droning, ambient forms of metal, often incorporating loads of distortion and feedback in their musical experiments. They released three full-lengths, including the landmark 1993 LP Earth 2, before experiencing a lull in output in the late 90s. Since the early aughts, Carlson has issued a steady stream of metal- and drone-adjacent albums in the company of a rotating cast of performers, with drummer Adrienne Davies his most constant musical companion. If transcendental simplicity has been the goal for Carlson and his shifting cohort, the cleaner tones and gluey pacing of Full Upon Her Burning Lips might rank as a new summit. It tamps down the overwhelming distortion of Earth’s earliest efforts and embraces some of the lighter sounds that swelled up on the band’s paired Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light releases earlier this decade. On Burning Lips, Carlson and Davies ditch the string accompaniment and occasional vocals for another clutch of tunes nearly devoid of levity. “The Colour of Poison” and “Descending Belladonna” both reference potentially life-ending toxins. And “Cats on the Briar,” as good a representation of the album as any other track, takes a gummy classic-rock stance, melodically descending toward that dark space inside Carlson that’s enabled him to shuttle gloom through his guitar for the past 30 years.   v