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Elephant Tree : Habits

The latest release from UK's Elephant Tree offers a mature, polished and comparatively safe slab of Stoner Doom.

Listening to Elephant Tree's third album 'Habits' has given me some fresh insight into the process of consuming and digesting new music, especially that from a band whose albums I've listened to before. Perhaps the weight of preconceived notions and biases unfairly tip the scales of evaluation when dealing with a band whose previous catalog I have explored thoroughly. It is not easy to see albums without prejudice and impartially when opinions have been tainted and distorted by the strengths of their previous works. I believe 'Habits', when evaluated by anyone who is familiar with Elephant Tree's previous albums, will potentially be found a bit of a disappointment. It doesn't seem like it pushes the envelope and challenges the band's fans as I hoped it would. That's OK though, this is an album for a new audience. Anyone not familiar with the previous efforts of Elephant Tree will probably find this album an exciting, friendly, spirited Heavy Rock/Stoner Doom album.

Don't get me wrong, 'Habits' sounds like Elephant Tree. It sounds like a band that has understandably matured and has continued to travel down a path they started on with their debut 'Theia'. If that was their VW bus with a shag rug interior and beads hanging here and there, being driven by art kids testing and breaking rules they didn't know existed, their second, self-titled, album would be a rugged, patinated, beat-up pickup truck, driven by no nonsense blue collar rockers. 'Habits' then, would be the fancy new black four door sedan driven by a young business man who cut his long hair and wears cuff links everyday while drinking fancy, Italian coffees. All of these rides can take you on a fun trip, and reliably get you from point A to point B, but personally I'm a pickup truck guy. But if Elephant Tree ever had a fools chance in reaching a broad, mainstream audience and making actual money, 'Habits' is the album that will do it for them.

It is an example of a band trading the edge of their first two albums for a more layered, multifaceted, consumer friendly sound. 'Theia' had a bit more arty, "let's try this" attitude with its use of sitar and more experimental song writing and instrumentation. The album 'Elephant Tree' took any and all ancillary sound and reduced it, boiled it down, and laser focused it on heavy Doom riffage. By focusing on the actual instruments, they left nothing extra to detract or distract from what they had evolved their sound into. The trimmed fat of their self-titled album got tossed right into the pot labeled "heft". 'Habits' sacrificed juvenile, wide eyed risk taking and a fuzz laden punch for a much more polished, safer approach.

That's a deliberate, premeditated move. It doesn't sound cheap or uninspired, on the contrary with its additional instruments and atmospheric synth it has a much larger, pensive, grandiose sound. This album sounds like a Cadillac commercial. Many of the songs, I believe, are actually lighter, more lyrical and whimsical songs just skinned with dank, distorted guitars. The songs do have some haunch, but aren't a sock in the gut like some of their previous releases have been.

'Habits' may be a gateway album for people who are unfamiliar and unexposed to heavy music. It offers a safe palatable dish of Doom that is inviting to a wide variety of listeners with its mild seasoning. Many people will love it and want to order seconds. Hopefully, when they look for another helping, they turn to Elephant Tree's back catalog where the real spicy stuff is. This album is entry level heavy music. There are plenty of people buying chicken nuggets out there. I like chicken nuggets, but prefer a bit more flavor and excitement. I was hoping for some music that required a bit more of an advanced level of listenership than 'Habits' could offer. Elephant Tree is capable of going deeper down into the well, they just opted to grab a wider audience with this more conventional, less risky, and orthodox offering.

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Reviewer's rating: 7.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Wake.Repeat (Intro)
2. Sails
3. Faceless
4. Exit The Soul
5. The Fall Chorus
6. Bird
7. Wasted
8. Broken Nails

Duration : Approx. 43 minutes

Visit the Elephant Tree bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-06-01 by Chris Murray
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