Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Elephant Tree - "Elephant Tree" (Album Review)

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/04/2016
Label: Magnetic Eye Records



If you’re on a quest for the next hit of sludgy psychedelic riffing to satisfy your music addiction, Elephant Tree is the thing to go for. They offer up the heaviness of slow, European doom and counter it with a classic rock swing. This is blended seamlessly with melody, both in the riffing as well as the vocals, drawing as much from the annals of rock music as it does from the modern stoner scene.  The album is made up of riffs that beg to be played over and despite the amount of repetition Elephant Tree does in fact use, the inherent quality of these riffs is that they aren’t given their due no matter how many times they get thrown at us. The quality of this album will prove itself once year-end list season comes around.


“Elephant Tree” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Spore
2). Wither
3). Dawn
4). Circles
5). Aphotic Blues
6). Echoes
7). Fracture
8). Surma

The Review:

Elephant Tree takes on a different approach to writing songs on their new self-titled album, to be released on April 22, 2016. Where their 2014 debut employed screams and sitars, this new outing has left these elements by the wayside, making room to explore the wonderful world of slow, dirty riffing. The band still plays psychedelic doom but these eight tracks give the genre a new, albeit subtle twist.  Slow and heavy wins the race for these Brits. Each cut breathes, comes alive, and leads a life of its own. The focus is laid on the power a riff has to completely swathe the listener with the deep, dark mix. This may sound like a familiar formula, and admittedly, it is, but it sure does make for one addictive listen.

So what is it exactly that makes this familiar formula so addictive? There’s been some scientific studies done at my house to get to the bottom of this – which were in no way influenced by external factors – and the only grounded conclusion is that this album is so addictive because these songs don’t last long enough. They’re made up of riffs that beg to be played over and despite the amount of repetition Elephant Tree does in fact use, the inherent quality of these riffs is that they aren’t given their due no matter how many times they get thrown at us. And that is Elephant Tree’s secret weapon. It’s a weapon that will prove itself successful once year-end list season comes around.

A band is usually able to get in and get out during the span of eight songs in 39 minutes. Elephant Tree, however, takes this time to nestle in and sees no reason to leave. “Aphotic Blues” encapsulates this, earning itself the centerpiece slot by way of its harmonized vocals that drift in and out of the slow and sludgy main riff. Meanwhile, drummer Sam Hart hangs on his cymbals with a classic rock swing that complements the downer riffing very well before the whole song diminishes  into a minute or so of feedback that has me thinking every time that my speakers are busted. Then out of the blue, Elephant Tree comes back in to tie the song together with their best Ufomammut impression for a whole sixty seconds.

And that’s what I mean when I say the riffs don’t last long enough. The breakdown that closes out “Aphotic Blues” is over before you know it, as is the case with all the songs here. “Echoes” follows “Aphotic Blues” with a bendy, bluesy guitar line that brings to mind “The Dark Side of the Moon” before taking off into the album’s strongest chorus sung in a heavy British accent, adding a sturdy push to the song as well as further exploring the Pink Floyd influence.

This brings us to the vocals. The screams have made way for more sung melody, complete with well placed, well sung and well timed backing vocals. The lyrical content matches the style of singing like a glove by way of the light, open-throated vocal delivery that Townley, Holland, or MacIntyre throw around when singing of a “rip in the atmosphere” during the rolling “Surma” or how “the sky and the ocean are just a place between me and my home” in the acoustic “Circles.” This, too, adds to the addictive quality of this record. There’s just no getting enough of it.

So if you’re on a quest for the next hit of sludgy psychedelic riffing to satisfy your music addiction, Elephant Tree is the thing to go for. They offer up the heaviness of slow, European doom and counter it with a classic rock swing. This is blended seamlessly with melody, both in the riffing as well as the vocals, drawing as much from the annals of rock music as it does from the modern stoner scene. If that’s what you need to get your fix, then by all means, indulge yourself in Elephant Tree.
Elephant Tree” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

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