Elephant Tree - Habits

24 Apr 2020 - Thorsten

Alternative-Prog-Metal | Holy Roar Records | Release date: 24 Apr 2020

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The only habit fueled by this release is the utter wish to listen to it over and over again. Mindboggling rock going in all directions.

Sometimes records can surprise you with every twist and turn they take. The third full-length by London-based quartet Elephant Tree is one of these. Just when you thought, you had them figured out they come up with yet another direction. The one constant on the album is probably the soundscape that is being dominated by a distorted, slightly fuzzy guitar. A kind of noise-rock production that seemingly is the red thread throughout the songs and that shares some relation to the Melvins.

Nevertheless this record is more than a sound-a-like. It jumps a bit between the genres which makes it more interesting. A hike through selected songs will probably clarify the eclectic nature of the album: After the pumping, vibrating intro “Wake. Repeat” the first full song Sails” is one of these songs that can stick to the back of your mind for week because the band is able to weave Pink Floyd’ish vocal lines into a song that is dancing on the razor between noise and post-metal with a strong nod to orchestral grunge when the synth spaces kick in at half-time. The fourth track “Exit the Soul” is only straightforward at first glance with its spiraling guitar lines in the background and the warm bass and drums at the center. But then the song slows down more and more until one might think that it is fading out, before taking a turn to become a stoner beast with some heavy-sparkling pearls and dots painting it a different shade of crimson. “The Fall Chorus” then surprisingly acts as an acoustic miniature with vocals placed right between chants in old Oxfordian halls and some Simon & Garfunkel pop-appeal – by the way, that is a strong bond between many of these songs: They can all keep your mind and “oral memory” blocked for days. It is the necessary pause for breath in the middle of the record. “Bird” then uses the chant-structure just to lead over into a grunge song for the 21st century. This song might be best described with a modern-day version of Stone Temple Pilots or Candlebox with an underlying melancholy and the vocals joyfully changing pace and style in between.

One could do this song by song analysis for all songs but by now it should be clear that Habits doesn’t hide its roots and influences. Nevertheless, the tracks never bow too low in front of the predecessors, so that they would become stagnant emulations; no they are very self-reliant and independent, very self-aware and proud. Something very valuable for a band that loves to play with the audience’s expectations and to surprise them more than once.