Bull Elephant - Bull Elephant
Eat Lead And Die Music
Progressive Sludge
7 songs (42:14)
Release year: 2019
Bandcamp
Reviewed by Goat

It is a little too easy for a seasoned metal reviewer to roll a cynical eye when reading up on London-based sludge collective Bull Elephant, from the overtly anonymous membership to the Lovecraftian zombie-elephant-dystopian theme to proceedings. Yet they simply must be experienced musicians because there's enough love and care put into this, their self-titled debut album, to more than silence fears of any silly gimmicks. Their sound has many touchstones, from expansive sludge of the Cult of Luna variety to more earthy and death metal-infused classic doom of the Yorkshire style, and Bull Elephant put it together so smoothly and uniquely that it results in an album that flows well yet is unafraid of variety. There are frequent atmospheric meanderings that fit in well with surrounding heavier moments, not least on the opening title track, which would be one of the proggier pieces present even without the elephant roars dotted here and there.

And thankfully the band don't need to rely on samples or similar to propel their sound as the riff-fuelled Construct of Chaos soon proves, shifting tempos and not being afraid to rock out between atmospheric constructions. The following Communion is a little prog rock-esque at first, clean-sung but soon opening up into something more harsh and doom metal, even throwing some blastbeats in towards the end. And the band can definitely get extreme; the chaotic, hardcore-tinged Corrupted Truth, for example, manages to include both a groove that Page Hamilton would be proud of and violence close to Impaled Nazarene territory. Yet it's altogether different to the following Reflections, somewhere between funeral doom and melodic blackened metal in a very late-90s combination that fits the overall theme of the album despite the radical shift.

Winterfist is an even more extreme example, closer to strident funeral doom initially with plenty of guitar-worship, straying into outright ambience in more melodic sections yet keeping itself together despite being the longest track on the album at nearly eight-minutes. Maybe it's just having come from the feature-length Esoteric double-album but this all seems very succinct in comparison. By the time you've reached finale Dread Reactor, which takes a more strident, almost thrashing style complete with wild widdly soloing, you have the feeling that the band have revealed much but not everything in their playbook, and there's still tricks to be told down the line. Which is ideal for a debut album, leaving much to look forward to in any future releases - in the meantime, Bull Elephant is a fun album with more musical depth than you'd assume.

Killing Songs :
Corrupted Truth, Reflections, Dread Reactor
Goat quoted 80 / 100
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