Bull Elephant – Bull Elephant Review

A concept album about a re-animated African elephant, performed in a progressive doom style? Yes, please! This is the story of some Nazi dude who wants to bring an elephant back from the dead as a new weapon, but in a Lovecraftian twist, a shaman witch gets in the way. Not only is the concept fun, but Bull Elephant insist on remaining an anonymous collective. All we know is that they are London-based, and that they are taking no prisoners on this self-titled debut. Anonymous bands tend to work out well for Yours Truly: the last London act shrouded in secrecy that I looked at was Sermon

The opening title track lurches out of the gate in deathy, sludgy fashion, but quickly morphs into a quiet, introspectively clean melody. Showing themselves as not willing to linger too long on an idea, Bull Elephant add in unhinged vocals that rapidly escalate – along with the music – into throat-shredding glee. Admittedly, on first listen my thoughts were that this guy would ruin what otherwise seemed to be a pretty nifty song, but by the time I was through my fist pass of Bull Elephant, I was captured by his lunatic charm. This charm is present all the way through, with vocals ranging from mellow cleans complete with harmonies to subterranean death growls, to hardcore thrash howling.

Variety is the name of the game musically as well. Each song winds its way through numerous dynamic movements. “Communion” moves from modernly clean doom passages to electrified anger, with vocals following suit. “Corrupted Truth” would make fans of Necropanther drool, with the crazy death-thrash and the groove-laden breaks. It’s also finished in less than three minutes, making it a refreshingly short neck-breaker in an album that is otherwise well-stocked with less direct material. The best song going is Bull Elephant’s final track, “Dread Reactor.” The slow fade-in is greeted by the best riff on the album, and the song begins its fatal march to the end – once again throwing thrash and death metal into the blender and spitting out a pretty tasty track.

Clocking in at a svelte 39 minutes over seven songs, this is the exact length olde bastards such as myself prefer because it fits perfectly on vinyl. It also means there isn’t a lot of time to let your mind wander while you listen. On the flip side, there’s a lot less room for error for a band going at it like this, and I’m happy to say that nothing on Bull Elephant really threw me off – not the elephant roars at the beginning or the baby crying at the end, nor anything in the middle. In fact, the more I listened to this album in an effort to turn up dirt, the more I ended up liking it. The key for listeners will be the wild-eyed, crazy-haired, mad scientist vocal performance, but hell, even that got better with every spin – almost to the point of rating system greatness.

Capping off these demented, engrossing tracks is a matching production job. Everything is crisp and modern, with guitars cutting like reciprocating saws and vocals trumpeting over the stampeding drums. One minute into my first listen I thought this was going to be way too silly. Now, as I wrap up my thirteenth listen, I know it’s silly, but in a very addicting way. These guys are so over the top that they land on both feet on the other side of excess, and somehow end up delivering a killer progressive doom album with plenty of side dishes of death and thrash. Will they be too over the top for you? It’s hard to say, but go give Bull Elephant a listen and decide for yourself.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Eat Lead and Die Music
Websites: bullelephant.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/bullelephant
Releases Worldwide: November 29th, 2019

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