Elephant Tree – Habits: Album Review

Like U2 and Nick Cave before them, Elephant Tree emerge from Church Studios with an epic piece of work that constitutes their third album, Habits.

Release Date: 24th April 2020

Label: Holy Roar Records

Formats: CD / DL / Vinyl

Here’s a real find. The enlightening experience of not having heard the name or any music by a band and then finding one of their records that has a profound effect. Ever had that feeling?

Habits might come recommended as “the sound of Kyuss and Smashing Pumpkins partying with Hunter S. Thompson and Cult Of Luna in an arena” although frankly, you don’t need preparing with any level of expectancy. Like Midge Ure once said, it means nothing to me.

The only thing that does matter is when the atmospheric throb of foreboding dread on Wake.Repeat (Intro), starts up and piques the interest. It acts as their own red warning light warning before the band explodes into life with the genuinely glorious Sails. Within a minute or so, the band that does immediately spring to mind with the fizzing bass drive is Manchester’s Amplifier – and that’s a good thing.

The deep, driving, grooves accompany a vocal that possesses a surprisingly clear gentleness. None of the ridiculous throat-ripping growling and roaring as a show of prowess. As an introduction, it’s perfectly placed to both act as an irresistible taster and set the scene for what’s to come.

Fortunately, Habits isn’t one of those albums whose single or opening track promises so much and ultimately fails to deliver. Thinks – there’s probably a feature there. The opening track syndrome; albums whose first track is so good only for the rest to fail miserably.

Lyrically the tone is set with the opening lines – “so long, fading, don’t leave me alone, alone, alone alone.” That hint of darkness and the and there’s a huge monolith of sound might be hard to follow. Or not.

Faceless rolls in like thick smog; detuned and dethroned, a lumbering march of doom that gives way to rare sombre and placid moments on Exit The Soul. Exhorted to “give it up, live it up, exit the soul,” the soundtrack glides and shimmers until a power chord shatters the reverie and a massive presence rolls towards a single sustained chord of closure.

The extremes kick in as The Fall Chorus provides an unexpected acoustic reverie and Bird begins like a Gothic nursery rhyme “hush now bird, you cannot fly, sparrow save your only flight, winter’s here and you are cold” The pairing continues with more than a hint of darkness and despite the lack of musical weight, still ominous in a subtle threatening manner.

It might be Sails that make the most immediate impression, but Bird emerges as possibly the best track. A carefully crafted groove that screams ‘atmosphere’.

As Wasted confirms the trademark doom flavoured atmospherics at their most overdriven, sluggish and sludgiest, Broken Rails leaves us on a different note. A pleading paean of shame – “your eyes fall down, the consequence of what you’ve done” – delivered as a deadly dirge. It might even serve as an anthem for our troubled times. A marvellous discovery and the highlight so far of a pretty horrible 2020.

Listen to the mighty Sails from the album here:

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