To many the prospect of a double album of riff laden instrumental rock heavy with bong water stench is an enticing prospect. Not for me. Earthless’ “Live at Roadburn” is a live document of a festival set they played in Holland that delivers exactly that. Over two hours of largely indistinguishable dinosaur riffing and rhythmic workouts.
My problems with this record can be traced to several key points. Firstly, two hours of soloing hurts my brain and heart. Solos represent one of the worst sides of rock music: its obsession with chops and technique. In many instances, someone with complete skill and control over their instrument can resemble a dictator drunk with power; they can do anything they like but self-indulgence often ensues. Personally, I prefer the side of stoner rock that places emphasis on heavy rhythms and growling low tones and eschews this sort of playing, made all the more popular by grotesque cultural developments like “Guitar Hero.”
Another problem is that it really goes nowhere. It works the same cycles over both discs and pretty much offers nothing else. This album just rubbed me the wrong way. The positive thing about investing a couple of hours in “Live at Roadburn” is that it reminded the things I love about music and the things I believe about music by stepping away from what I like. Something akin to spending time away from a lover and returning to their warm embrace. 4/10 -- Alex Kakafikas (17 December, 2008)