Having recently been entranced by an acoustic blues artist’s live show, the brief note our PR manager made next to Elbrus‘ self-titled album lured me into this sonic masterpiece. I am genuinely blown away by the seemingly effortless blend of doom and psychedelic blues rock and would heartily recommend it to all who enjoy these genres. Elbrus‘ first outing is a spectacular effort, made even better by the crisp production and attention to detail the band have put in.
Hailing from down under – Melbourne to be specific – Elbrus are sure to make waves in the industry. Whilst some bands take 2-3 albums to fully mature, Elbrus have flipped that principle on its head, tearing straight out of the starting blocks and delivering a wonderfully produced record with incredible song writing to boot. Six tracks long and with a run time of 40 minutes give or take, it is certainly not one of last year’s longest albums, but definitely one of my favourites.
The album is very dreamy from start to finish, with spacey organs complementing feedback-laden, twangy guitars to lull the listener into a semi-fugue state. Drift off too much and suddenly you’re woken up by thundering distortion, with Ollie on vocals belting out lyrics in a bluesy tone to shatter any chance you had of sleeping. The vocals are certainly one of my favourite aspects of Elbrus. Ollie opens the record with soft dulcet tones, really setting the dreamscape. This subsequently leads into one of my favourite mixed sex duets I’ve heard in a long while, before Ollie kicks it up a gear to belt out the lyrics towards the end of the first track ‘Tall Shadow’. Fans of Witchcraft‘s Magnus Pelander will certainly like the vocal range on show in this album, as will anybody with an soft spot for blues vocals in general.
Up next is one of my favourite tracks of 2016: ‘Break The Machine’. Playing off the riff from the first track to begin with, the heavy guitars and thrumming bass slowly build up to an epic crescendo. The guitars are almost bruising in this song, with the band pushing the limits of their gear to create a concrete sound that does not let up. Once the song has built up and dropped back down, then comes its unique part: a harmonica solo, and an excellent one at that. Offering the listener a reprieve from the doom-ridden guitars, it blasts out, accentuating the thunder of the drums and bringing this most excellent song to a close.
‘Eyes Of The Mammal’ is another fantastic track, and here you can certainly hear influences in the vocals and guitars from bands like Clutch & The Sword. The two-part track mid-way through the record really accentuates the two strengths of this band: the bluesy/dreamy aspects and the crushing doom rock they can conjure. The last track seems to fade out slowly before taking you for one final ride, ending the way you want it to and not with a shitty fizzle like many do.
Elbrus feels like a brilliant journey that has been sculpted over a long stretch of time. It’s a testament to the band’s abilities and certainly paints a pretty picture for their future. One could complain that the album is too short, however it’s fair to say Elbrus might’ve compromised on quality if focusing on quantity. It’s hard to draw criticisms towards the album, especially with the production being so crisp on the album. That being said, I did find the crashing cymbals overwhelming in the mix sometimes, but what band doesn’t struggle with that from time to time. Another great point I’d like to make is about the artwork. It’s a beautiful piece of art, with a full version available on their Facebook. The official album launch is on the 21st of January in Melbourne so if you can get down to it, but if not, this auditory delight is certainly one to wrap your ears around during the doomey winter months.
Notable Tracks: ‘Tall Shadow’, ‘Break the Machine’, ‘Eyes Of The Mammal’.
FFO: Witchcraft, The Sword, Clutch, And The Elephants