Earthly Delights by Lightning Bolt | Rock review

The ear-bleeding rockers have learned how to marry noise to songs, says Chris Campion

If one had to sum up Lightning Bolt in two words, "awkward" and "delirious" would be as good as any. The experimental bass and drums duo from Providence, Rhode Island delight in doing things their own way, employing strategies that almost seem designed to frustrate any kind of commercial success and retain their cult reputation. These include playing gigs on the floor instead of the stage, with the audience at such close quarters that the band themselves often seem in danger of being swept away in the melee they inspire; a wayward release schedule – their previous album was released in 2005 – and a wariness towards press and promotion.

Yet because of these things, rather than despite them, they have a fanatical and devoted following. Not least because Lightning Bolt are one of the most exciting and exhilarating live bands you could ever see. They play so loud and fast that the distortion not only stimulates shots of pure adrenaline but rattles bones and wrinkles skin.

Earthly Delights continues the group's penchant for elemental album titles – previous albums include Ride the Skies and Hypermagic Mountain – that match their earthy, primal, electric sound. It is also a sound that on this, their fifth album, seems as resistant to change as the forces of nature and while seemingly limited in palette, is as expansive as it is inventive. Because, beneath all the noise and fury, there are bona fide songs here, driven by giddy singalong melodies that settle into maddeningly tight runs and rhythmic loops then spin off into chasms of free-form noise. Where there are lyrics, they are usually so swamped in echo, delay and distortion that they are unintelligible. Instead, everything is focused on the extraordinary physicality of their sound: spasmodic, psychedelic, heavy, loud and life-affirming.


Chris Campion

The GuardianTramp

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