(This review originally appeared in The New School Free Press)
Providence noise duo Lightning Bolt make their long-awaited return with Earthly Delights, their first album since 2005. They have spent the intervening years playing with Bjork (drummer Brian Chippendale), dating Kurt Vonnegut’s niece (bassist Brian Gibson), and workshopping new songs in their notorious live show, which turns shy, skinny hipsters into bloodthirsty savages. They’re like Slayer for RISD industrial design students. Lightning Bolt seems to have embraced the metallic undercurrent in their music, as Earthly Delights is their most metal album yet. The songs are longer and heavier, taking time build organically, like on standout track “Colossus,” which starts with a sludgy bass riff and ominous drumbeat, gets kind of spaced-out in the middle, then wakes up and sprints to the finish. Bassist Gibson can shred like Eddie Van Halen, but here at times adopts a style closer to Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, slow and syrupy. However, he still frequently unleashes his patented confusing blasts of dexterity that redefine what a bass can sound like. Chippendale is one of the most distinctive drummers around, playing like he’s winning at the world’s most difficult game of Whack-A-Mole. His snare drum is like brain popcorn, and his bass drum is too fast and too complicated to only be played by one person. Plus, he’s still chirping indecipherably through his custom-made microphone masks, one of Lightning Bolt’s many eccentricities. All of this is more fun than it probably sounds. Lightning Bolt may provoke violence, but their music is as inviting as noise rock gets. You may get pummeled, but in the friendliest possible way.
Lightning Bolt - Colossus (Mediafire) - buy