San Diego psych rock trio Earthless, which includes guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba, have made a name for themselves as the premier psych rock band. But not the kind that relies on lots of reverb, echo, and swaths of noise, rather these guys play intricately-created jams.
As far as guitar heroes go these days you’d be hard pressed to find one better than Isaiah Mitchell. He has created a sound that is both bluesy and progressive. It’s like Hendrix, but if Hendrix had lived long enough to dig bands like Soft Machine and Genesis. His soulful and prolific style is only matched by Earthless’ muscular rhythm section of Eginton and Rubalcaba. It’s like the Super Friends of psych rock.
In 2018 the band released Black Heaven, a mostly standard heavy rock record complete with vocals from Mitchell. Up to that point their albums were epic instrumental jams that ran the entire length of a vinyl side. Black Heaven felt like a shift to something more resembling classic rock. Not a bad thing at all, just different. Mitchell then joined the Black Crowes as their lead guitarist and hit the road with them.
Maybe playing tracks from Shake Your Money Maker on the road satiated Mitchell’s appetite for vocal songs because we now have Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons, a three-track opus of instrumental rock that hits the melodious, the heavy, and the bluesy. It’s an hour of absolute rock and roll power.
There’s three songs, “Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons Pt. 1” “Pt. 2” and “Death To The Red Sun”, and all hit around the 20 minute mark. Earthless have proven time and time again that they can make 20 minutes feel like a journey. It takes a particular group of individuals that can tame 20 minutes of face-melting rock and make it feel like it was only half that time. Earthless are those individuals. With these tracks, it feels like the band is taking their time getting to the riffage. There’s a melodic flow here, as on opening track “Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons Pt. 1”. The track opens more like a prog rock epic than West Coast psych blues. Mitchell curates delicate guitar lines that slowly build up into the whirlwind that is Earthless. It’s a stunning listen, and one that never feels like it’s 20 minutes long.
“Pt. 2” goes into a direction I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Earthless play with, and that is the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. The chugging rhythm and “ka-chunk” of Mitchell’s guitar sounds more like Iron Maiden than Blue Cheer and I’m here for it. Of course his skilled lead work gives you the impression that Hendrix could’ve held his own in Maiden or Priest.
“Death To The Red Sun” kicks in right away and never relents. I’m reminded of classic Earthless, like Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky and From The Ages. It’s 20 minutes of mind- melting heavy blues rock. Mike Eginton lays some seriously low end groove down here, and with Rubalcaba punishing drums this song never relents.
Night Parade Of One Hundred Demons is a welcome return to the mighty Earthless and their epic jams. This is next level instrumental rock and roll, and one of Earthless’ best albums yet.