It's not the destination that counts but the journey itself. This is the defining message of Pentastar: In The Style of Demons, the third studio album by Earth. Indeed, the same could be said for any Earth album, with their slow, coasting rhythms and far-reaching grooves, but with Pentastar it fits better than ever.
The discography of Earth is not a confusing one. Sure, the music has changed a fair bit from their formation in the early nineties to the present day, but after two decades that can only be expected. What is interesting is how regular and steady the change has been. From the groaning tectonics of pioneer drone doom works Extra-Capsular Extraction and Earth 2 to the bright, twangy reverberations of The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull, Earth's evolution is clear to see. Phase 3: Thrones and Dominions came out after Earth 2, and softened the unfriendly 60+ minutes of feedback and subterranean riffing considerably. Pentastar came next, in 1996, and despite Earth's subsequent 9-year hiatus, provides a perfect link between Phase 3 and 2005's Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method.
Pentastar: In The Style of Demons is stoner rock, at its heart. It's forty-five minutes of repetitive, distorted electric guitar, with very simple drumming and little vocals. The tone of the guitar is gritty, but not so much that it is unrecognizable as a musical instrument. The tempo is slow, but no slower than the average Kyuss song. It's not all purring guitar, though. The track "Crooked Axis For String Quartet" is a twinkling expanse of echoing organ notes, led along by a quiet background drone. "Sonar and Depth Charge" is a mindnumbing seven minutes of the same two piano chords, clanging back and forth like a pendulum, though sometimes extra keys make their way in, just to freak you out. Both of those tracks serve as intermissions, but also as a message making clear that this album isn't all dirty rock music, despite that smoker's cough of a guitar tone.
As cruising-through-the-desert-at-top-speed-in-a-convertible-with-the-top-down music, this album excels. Likewise for sitting-on-your-bed-with-a-couple-friends-in-a-smoke-filled-room music. Earth's stop at stoner rock in their stylistic road trip was brief but successful, and Pentastar remains one of the stronger albums of the group, if not the most adventurous or unconventional.
Introduction" – 5:15
High Command" – 5:50
Crooked Axis for String Quartet" – 5:29
Tallahassee" – 3:50
Charioteer (Temple Song)" – 4:17
Peace in Mississippi" (Jimi Hendrix cover) – 5:56
Sonar and Depth Charge" – 7:13
Coda Maestoso in F(Flat) Minor" – 5:19
Earth's roster has been fairly fluid over the existence of the group. The only constant member has been Dylan Carlson, the founder and creative force of the band.
Dylan Carlson: vocals, guitar, vibraphone, piano
Ian Dickson: bass guitar, guitar
Sean McElligot: guitar
Michael Deming: organ
Pentastar: In The Style Of Demons - Earth - 1996 - Sub Pop