The Mayan calendar has the world ending on a specific day‚ but what if the end times aren't so brief? What if the pace of the apocalypse is gradual and drawn out? And in a post-apocalyptic earth‚ where food‚ ammunition and session drummers are hard to come by‚ what would music sound like? These are the questions that occupy my mind as I listen to Napalm‚ Baby!‚ the debut album from instrumental stoner metal duo Lord Earth.
Their album art portrays nuclear warheads falling like hail‚ an octopus toting a machine gun‚ and Jesus decapitating the Easter bunny‚ but ultimately it's Kyle Jongerden and Chris Gilman's instrumental versatility that equips them for Armageddon. Throughout the album‚ Jongerden and Gilman seamlessly swap between guitar/bass and drums with such ease that it's not hard to picture them creating new music long after the world's lead singers‚ rhythm guitar players and keyboardists are ashes in the wind. Their Macguyver mentality makes for songs that play out like distorted meditations built around recurring riffs. With this formula‚ each song lives and dies by its main hook‚ but on Napalm‚ Baby! there's always plenty to hold your attention no matter which member is at the helm.
Fundamentally a live act‚ Lord Earth's most metal leaning songs ("Silicon‚" "Heavy Hand" and the title-track come to mind) strive to recreate the bandana donning‚ headbanging‚ PBR swilling chaos they embody onstage. Though the heaviest tracks don't completely capture the intensity that Jongerden and Gilman provide in person‚ they're still strong enough to captivate throughout and create some of Napalm‚ Baby's best moments.
In contrast‚ the album's mellower fare benefits more from at-home listening. Repeated listens to slow burners like "Jessica" and "Cocktails on the Lawn" give listeners a chance to enjoy the laid back hemisphere of Lord Earth without a constant buzzing in their ears from shred-fests like "Heavy Hand." And though it starts with an explosion of sound‚ it's Gilman's ominous bass line on "Zeus the Python" that maintains the mood long after the opening riff is defused. Lord Earth's genre-hopping instrumentals make it hard to know exactly what their sound will evolve into‚ but the high water marks on their debut show lots of promise. Napalm‚ Baby! may not have any vocals‚ but there's still plenty to hear for those who are listening.