“Full upon her burning lips” seems a line pulled from the pages of a taudry romance novel–full of verve and passion and sweeping lust. Turbulent and denoting almost a kind of violence. Its ironic, then, that the storied drone metal band Earth has chosen it as the title for their 9th full length. Not that the band doesn’t contain within them multitudes–on the contrary, nothing but passion and love for music and the genre could have propelled them to this, their 9th release over what is quickly approaching 30 years as a band. It’s just that dynamism and turbulence is at odds with the drone band’s oeuvre, for better or worse.

Earth has always been known for their ponderous, almost meditative soundscapes. Their existence has partially been what has propelled so many instrumental bands forward and inspired the genre’s they in habit, but they seemingly have been content to bloom in the shadows. Not as flashy as bands like Pelican or Elder, they nevertheless still exist in a space that evokes mood and incredible vibrancy–on Upon Her Burning Lips no less than any of their releases.

Slimmed to a 2-piece, the sheer amount of noise created is something staggering. Entire movements break and fall away like small waves–consistent, persistent, but ever-changing on sometimes imperceptible levels. While this is certainly one of the genre’s and band’s appeals, for less patient listeners not looking for a challenge, it does make it difficult to tell these songs apart. While that invariably manages to unify the record as a whole, it still makes for a challenging listen.

Though never difficult. Earth have managed to perfect their brand of meditative drone, peppering their soundscapes with breakaway lines that really allow their absolute control of their instruments and intentions to shine. Upon Her Burning Lips also somehow also feels like a bit of a return to form after Primitive and Deadly. While its difficult to put my finger exactly on why this feels so, it’s undeniable that that is calculated, as everything on this record is. The painstaking care that Earth put into it is felt through their very playing throughout.

While not an easy or accessible record, Earth has never aspired to be an easy or accessible band and therefore Upon Her Burning Lips may be exactly what Earth fans need.