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Queen Elephantine : Scarab

For some, Queen Elephantine is too far away from classic Doom Metal. For others, it’s time to grab your passport and see where the band will take you.

Unorthodox and hypnotising, Queen Elephantine’s music swells and shrinks, carried on swirling cosmic thermals. The most prominent feature of this album, the band’s fourth, is the tortured, insectoid drone emanating from their tanpura, an Indian backing instrument. You might expect this almost-incessant buzz to quickly wear thin, resulting in a desire to smash your stereo to pieces with a hammer, but Queen Elephantine intelligently maintain an element of surprise in its deployment. And the moments when the drone pauses are such aural relief that a feeling approaching elation arises. At times, the drone is offset by a ghostly chanting that reverberates from the belly of some unknown Hindu temple directly into your brain.

Amid the mournful emptiness, there are understated jazzy episodes which sound as if a bunch of aliens have broken into a guitar shop, while the vocals are limited to the occasional plaintive wail. Three-quarters of the way through this slow, psychedelic four-song album – at the point when you start to lose track of time and space - the music returns to something approaching traditional doom. Curiously, it is here, during the third track, that the sound of the tanpura begins to resemble the War Pigs siren, as filtered through a bee hive. In fact, if you listen closely, you can hear a myriad of details, delicately handled by the mastering of Billy Anderson.

Regal and heavy, 'Scarab' certainly lives up to the band’s monicker. However, there are a few barren spells where the listener’s attention is encouraged to wander and it seems that these weaker sections could have been shortened or embellished without diluting the album’s mind-expanding vibe. Queen Elephantine used to be based in Hong Kong and now work out of Providence, USA. The inspiration behind their music, however, comes from a completely different planet. For some, this is too far away from classic Doom Metal. For others, it’s time to grab your passport and see where the band will take you.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Veil
2. Crone
3. Snake
4. Clear Light of the Unborn

Duration : Approx. ?? minutes

Visit the Queen Elephantine bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-07-15 by Steve Bidmead
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