Hibernaculum (Southern Lord)

Formed in 1990 and infamous for epic, lumbering walls of buzzing sludge, Earth is widely considered the progenitor of the drone doom genre, which includes the likes of Sunn O))) and Japan's Boris. Helmed by Dylan Carlson, the band has gone through a variety of lineups over the years; Carlson's pal Kurt Cobain even sang on an early demo. Despite the roster fluctuations, the group's snail-rock dirges remained gloriously noisy throughout, with 1993's Earth 2 album being a watershed doom recording.

But a funny thing happened when Earth released Hex (Or Printing in the Infernal Method) in 2005: All the scuzz went away. The slo-mo plod-prog was still there, but the guitars were all clean and shimmery, and effects didn't go far beyond reverb and tremolo. Hibernaculum continues where Hex left off, sounding kinda like a despondent Low trying to channel Ennio Morricone. And that's not a bad thing. The first three songs on Hibernaculum are radically cleaner versions of earlier Earth tracks, and the fourth is “A Plague of Angels,” a desolate, wind-swept number clocking in at 16-plus minutes and previously available only on a rare split 12-inch with Sunn 0))). All four tracks, with their judicious layering of instrumental swaths over somberly haunting melodic riffs, are suitable for background ambience, hypnotically active listening, and, of course, getting baked. — Mike Rowell

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