Lightning Bolt - Earthly Delights
Bam! Like a sniper, there's no warning. No time to ready yourself. 'Sound Guardians' punches out of the speaker with such inconceivable clout that some poor sap is left scraping up pieces of your brain and skull from the curtains. All you did was put on the first track from Earthly Delights, the new Lightning Bolt album and now all your hats are homeless. Don't go ringing Claims Direct and complaining, surely you knew what to expect?
Coming from the less = more school of thought, this two-piece of tinnitus-terrorism come back with an album as in-your-face as a 1970s PE teacher trying to get a gangly kid to climb a rope. A relentless assault of guitars, drums and vocals - sometimes buzzing like an angry hornet in your ear, other times strapping on a tie-dye bandana and psyching out naked in the woods. There's an almost Asian melody of rapid little notes punctuating ‘Flooded Chamber’ and ‘Rain on the Lake I’m Swimming In’ and when set alongside the heavily echoed banshee vocals and tin-foil drums, a more subtle palette of disorientation in unveiled.
When I finally give up writing and start my next career as a pro-wrestler I’m having ‘S.O.S.’ as my entrance music. No opponent would hang around in the squared circle long enough to see what sort of lunatic would choose such mentalism for music. It’s terrifically unfocused, hurling notes and sound in every direction, then at the two minute mark sharpens into a precise driving force contrasted with the sound of what can be best described as a moose on a rollercoaster. Breathtaking stuff!
End-to-end this is an amazing record. The final track ‘Transmissionary’ takes all their wondrous ideas and pulverises them into a mesmeric twelve minutes of concentrated weirdness that goes to all the dangerous places your mother warned you about. It leaves you in the corner, used and abused, curled up in the fetal position, dripping with sweat and wondering what happened.
Lightning Bolt have certainly evolved with this album. There are varying textures (although it’s all pretty much different gauges of sandpaper) and what they have brought new to the table works really well, shifting the tempo and setting moods rather than banging your head repeatedly against barbed wire. They have always been the very best at what they do, but with Earthly Delights they have raised the bar, moved the goalposts and set the noise-rock-clock back to 00:00.
Now, who wants to buy some hats?