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Lightning Bolt: Earthly Delights (Album Review)

I’m not sure why people are so worried about the Hadron Collider, especially since Lightning Bolt have been tearing black holes in the fabric of Providence on a regular basis for the past 15 years. If we’re to take their album titles to heart, the Lightning Bolt œuvre has described the steady trajectory of a celestial plummet, from the airy heights (2001’s Ride the Skies) down through the clouds (’03’s Wonderful Rainbow), past the craggy summits (’05’s Hypermagic Mountain), and, here, on Earthly Delights, straight into the dirt below.

For most bands, this perpetual fall would be a downside, but for Lightning Bolt, the ever-increasing density of their sound makes perfect sense. Earthly Delights may be the beloved duo at their most listenable — which shouldn’t be mistaken for accessible. “Transmissionary” is so saturated, so full-to-bursting, so brutal, and so generously portioned that, after four or so minutes, it achieves something close to an ambient quality. “The Sublime Freak” shrieks into being, collects itself, and charges through everything in its path.

Drummer/singer Brian Chippendale still sounds as if he were on a CB radio from a truck barreling through hell, and bassist Brian Gibson’s quickness allows important notes to fling themselves from the song before they tear themselves apart — melodies don’t carry Lightning Bolt songs, they escape them. The LB faithful will crowd around their speakers for the signature tirades “Nation of Boar” and “S.O.S.,” but even casual listeners will find things to enjoy about the fake flirtations with sludge metal (“Colossus”) and redneckery (“Funny Farm”). At its core, Earthly Delights is the sound of a band digging in so deep, they’ve struck something molten.