Album Review: ELEPHANT TREE Elephant Tree
There's always been a bit of weird crossover between doom and grunge, I mean, you need to look no further than a band like Earth to realize that the two genres have for a long time been united, or at least symbiotic. Perhaps no new band represents this better than Elephant Tree, whose self titled sophomore release is spaced out, bizarre and unafraid to expand what doom can be. The psychedelic voyages taken by Elephant Tree on this release are almost trance like. The washed out vocals and rolling guitar riffs help to cement this band in a bitter reality that many of us can find truth in. Organic and beautiful, this is what doom should be about, zoning out of reality and into a world of hope.
The more I listen to this record, the more I realize that it's the inherent bluesiness that helps to make it so addictive. Even the records heaviest tracks are able to use distinct rhythms to create an elephantine stomps across your skull. Just look at 'Fracture' a song that features a bridge so heavy that I initially thought it was some sort of joke. Within all of this though is the same washed out, almost Alice In Chains-esque magic that has come to define the band. The sheer psychedelic beauty of Elephant Tree, with its distinct use of sitar and lush arrangements, is impossible to understate. It allows you to get absorbed in a world beyond, one that maybe we aren't wholly comfortable in, but that's fine because it gives us a chance to get truly and definitively lost in sound.
Elephant Tree are not without their faults though. Periodically the psychedelic moments get a bit masturbatory, almost as if Elephant Tree are trying to see how long they can carry on a riff before it gets boring. I get that a huge part of this is supposed to be the trancelike nature of the music, but frankly some of the songs end up a little dull because of it. I understand that Elephant Tree are still a very young band but I'm not sure that this record was meant to lull their listener to sleep. Maybe that's a bit too harsh, and I'm probably not high enough to appropriately appreciate what's being done here, but nevertheless, Elephant Tree could do with some tightening.
I wasn't being facetious when I said this record was addictive though. It is. Extremely so. It's the kind of thing that you can vibe out to on a lazy afternoon and it has a lot of fascinating experimental passages that help to make it an interesting listen. You slowly find yourself lost in the monochromatic wash of this band – a sound that is impossible to compare to and which expands the sonic possibilities of what doom and grunge can be in exciting new ways. There is something transcendent about Elephant Tree and the deeper you delve into sitar padded riffs and wide open vocal lines the easier it becomes to realize, this is a band who could turn the doom world on its head.