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Earthly Delights

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Album Review

After a four-year hiatus and a few bailed attempts at recording a proper follow-up to Hypermagic Mountain, Lightning Bolt returns in full force. Here, on Earthly Delights, the thunderous Rhode Island duo’s riffs are explosive and punishing as ever, as drummer/garbled vocalist Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson do what they do best: play incredibly loud and incredibly hard. Their technical proficiency and kinetic energy is still dizzying, and as always, their style is entirely their own. Call it metal, call it post-rock, or call it intolerable noise, there still isn’t any other band that quite compares to the glory of Lightning Bolt. Earthly Delights isn’t a huge departure from Wonderful Rainbow or Hyper Magic Mountain, but even so, this is forgivable when Gibson and Chippendale's music is so unique to begin with. Most of the album is made up of the classic “Crown of Storms” and “Assassins” types of pummeling thunder — songs specifically made for popping the eardrums of any parking lot attendants within a 50-yard radius. “S.O.S.” and “Transmissionary” fit into this category. Elsewhere, "Sublime Freak" is a furious endurance test, built on a hyper-tribal rhythmic repetition set to an acid-house tempo, the exasperating psychedelic insanity of “Flooded Chamber” weeds out the casual fans from the diehards, and “Funny Farm” finds Gibson tackling some country-metal chicken pickin’ that could be a distant cousin of a Jimmy Page solo (think "Bron Yar Stomp" on a distorted bass), before the riffage nearly bashes itself to shambles. Aside from these sidesteps, the most significant change from early albums is in the production, which is extra fuzzed-out and blown apart. It’s an exhausting, aneurysm-inducing experience, but with an adrenalin-fueled duo like Lightning Bolt, the fact that they aren’t showing any signs of maturity can only be viewed as a good thing. Fans of spastic and difficult music, take heed.


Formed: 1995 in Providence, RI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '10s

Lightning Bolt emerged from Providence, Rhode Island in 1995 as a three-piece art school project. Initially there was Brian Chippendale's explosive, nonstop drumming, Brian Gibson's Contortions-like basslines, and Hisham Baroocha's vocals propelling them in a fury of volatile noise and orgiastic tribalism. The group helped found Fort Thunder, a music and art collective, and recorded a self-titled album that was issued through Load in 1999. By 2001's Ride the Skies, Baroocha had departed (he eventually...
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Earthly Delights, Lightning Bolt
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