The genius of Earth doesn’t lie in its riffs, though they are abundant. Out of context there’s little to be excited by in the riffs themselves, they’re just riffs. Uncomplicated to a tee, accompanied by simple bass lines and sparse drumming. This is definitely not the maximalism so often associated with metal. Nor is it revolutionary. Riffs and metal are firm friends and, what’s more, any Earth track, often reaching 20 minutes long, will have at most two or three riffs in it.
Earth’s genius exists outside of any attempt to qualify or quantify the parts their pieces are built out of. Earth practice repetition, and much in the same way of a lot of dance music, it’s in this repetition that Earth find themselves.
Frontman Dylan Carson would occasionally embellish a riff, adding an extra note, or delaying one slightly, or indeed any number of minor changes. What exactly he did didn’t really matter. This presumably well-rehearsed aimlessness meant it was never quite clear where a track was headed, if indeed it was headed anywhere at all. On more than one occasion Earth would end a track in almost exactly the same way it began.
This gave the performance a ritualistic quality, not least because of Carson’s shamanic via Americana vibe. Between his mean strut, his habit of pointing his guitar to the heavens and some fantastic facial hair, there was sense that Earth were invoking something higher.
Too bad the gig was never loud enough for them to fully transfer this something to the audience. That said, most of the satisfaction from the show came from the genuine tension as each cycle of a riff came around. Would Earth opt to change things or not? The answer was usually a resounding and definitive no.