By: Martyn Coppack
Elephant Tree | website | facebook | twitter | bandcamp |
Released on April 22, 2016 via Magnetic Eye Records
It is sometimes a moment of transient beauty to discover a stoner rock album can actually contain moments that take the usual repetitive riffs and and turn them into something altogether more interesting. It’s a rare occurrence, and one could argue that the true merits of the genre is in the nature of the riffs. They would be correct to a certain extent too, but it is also way too easy to run out of ideas very fast.
Elephant Tree happen to be one of those rare bands and their début album, which at first listen seems rather generic, soon reveals itself to be something altogether more interesting. A band schooled in the high intensity desert fuelled rock of High On Fire, they take their cue from the wall of riff sound and use that as their template. You would almost be tempted to discard them as simple copyists within the first couple of minutes, but then a certain magic sets in.
This is a band that recognises that the riff is not enough and that the adding in of certain lysergic elements, no doubt influenced by copious magic mushrooms, is key to unlocking a new approach. Throw in a hefty talent in songwriting and melody and you have a band who grow within themselves in an album, which just keeps on delivering throughout.
Maybe the apex of this sound is on the track ‘Aphotic Blues’, which acts as both the centrepiece (from a digital point of view) and the closing of side 1 on a vinyl version. Feeding off that well worn sense of drama to keep things going, when the supremely heavy riff literally crunches out of your speakers it forms a thrilling denouement to what now becomes a lighter flavour before it. ‘Fracture’ repeats this trick at the end of the album.
Elsewhere, Elephant Tree range from full on riffs to more bluesy affairs where they even threaten to sound funky. Forever steeped in heaviness, melody is everywhere too. A key part of their sonic attack, it makes for some excellent moments.
This album shows more than enough promise from Elephant Tree and we can only hope this continues. They have taken the base elements of stoner rock and mixed it with their own take on psych to create an album that simply gets better with ever listen. It’s little nuances jump out and surprise you whilst its underbelly is laced with tremendous heaviness. A great release.