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Earthless - Black Heaven

(Colored Vinyl LP)

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Earthless has a surprise for you. Whereas the band's three previous albums featured anywhere from two to four completely instrumental space rock jams, the California trio's fourth and latest, Black Heaven, is nothing like that. "It's quite different," drummer Mario Rubalcaba explains. "It has six songs, and most importantly it has vocals on about 70 percent of the record. There goes being pigeonholed as an instrumental band, I guess..."

Of Black Heaven's six tracks, only two are instrumental. And one of those instrumentals is less than two minutes long. "It wasn't a premeditated thing to do a record with vocals," Rubalcaba notes. "On the older records, Mike was responsible for a lot of the riffs that would start these jams, but on this one Isaiah really brought his own pizazz and flavor to it. I'd say that's one of the major differences on this album: It has more of Isaiah's input. He took a risk bringing these ideas to us, not knowing if we'd like them. But as with everything we've done in the past, it felt very organic and natural."

Black Heaven is a game changer for Earthless. "I'm sure there will be some people who have come to expect the big gargantuan space rock jams, and I don't know if they'll be into this or not," Rubalcaba admits. "But I'm ready to deal with a little bit of disappointment from people who just want the freakout stuff. At the same time, I think people are gonna enjoy hearing a different side of us. If people really listen to what we're doing, it's gonna sound like us. Sometimes it just takes a few listens. And that's the kind of stuff that pays off more in the end."

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