Earthless is a band that puts “power” in power trio. Isaiah Mitchell(guitar, vocals), Mike Eginton(bass), and Mario Rubalcaba(drums) are a San Diego three-piece that have been putting out next-level psych rock since the early 2000s. Their albums are long-form improvisations that pay tribute to bands like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Blue Cheer, Cream, Black Sabbath, and pretty much any band that ever put musicianship and improvisation over anything else. There’s an elevated zone these three enter when they play together that honestly I just don’t here in bands anymore. There’s a joy in their psychedelic noise.
The band has added vocals in the past(most prominently on their last studio album Black Heaven), but the real magic lies within the super tight musicianship between these three So Cal musicians. In an interview a few years ago the band described their sound as “caffeinated rock”, and hearing them play you can definitely hear the caffeine running through the pristine and euphoric guitar solos of Mitchell, as well as the super tight rhythm section of Eginton and Rubalcaba. No drugs involved in their inspiration, just a good dark roast and the warmth of tube amps buzzing.
For their latest release, Live In The Mojave Desert, Earthless play a blistering three song set that hits the 77-minute mark. In the expanse of the southern California desert Mitchell, Eginton, and Rubalcaba let loose with one of their fiercest and most flawless live sets yet.
I do love the “song” aspect of Earthless. Isaiah Mitchell has a great voice and captures a classic soulful 70s vibe with his vocals. But for me, there’s nothing like hearing Earthless let loose on an instrumental. There’s a freedom in their wave of sonic noise that is quite unlike anything else. Imagine the psychedelic blues of Hendrix mixed with the thunderous power of Black Sabbath and the energy of So Cal punk rock. Maybe add a pinch of Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs and some electric Miles for good measure and you have that magic formula that makes Earthless’ sound so unique and alive. Of course, they mix all of those influences up to create something quite unique and solely their own.
The album opens with the nearly 17-minute dirge “Violence of the Red Sea”, off of 2013s From The Ages. A relentless onslaught of blistering guitar work and a rhythm section as heavy as a concrete mixer. Seriously, Eginton and Rubalcaba lay down some serious asphalt, allowing Isaiah Mitchell give his guitar a wide stretch to shred freely. Nobody plays like this man these days. Nobody. “Sonic Prayer” is up next with 21-minutes of sheer mind-melting improvisation. Touches of Krautrock and 60s psych give this song a space rock vibe, setting controls for the heart of the sun.
The final track is the epic 39-minute “Lost In The Cold Sun”. Earthless do something that most bands just don’t have the skill and complexity to do anymore, which is keep the listener engaged within an entire album-length song. Earthless ebb and flow, building and tearing apart and rebuilding within this track. There’s no one better at creating in the moment than Earthless, and “Lost In The Cold Sun” is a truly shining moment.
There are very few live albums that truly capture the magic a band possesses when on the stage, and there are very few bands that can build such a creative fire and lock into each other so intuitively. Earthless and Live In The Mojave Desert click both boxes.
8.4 out of 10
‘Live In The Mojave Desert’ is available now via Giant Rock Records. Buy it here.