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(45:25, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Crystals 8:15 2. Shaman in the Woods 4:46 3. I.A.B. 4:05 4. Tusko 5:52 5. The Jazz 9:55 6. Stoned Conceptions 12:33 LINEUP: Erik Sejersted Vognstolen – vocals; el. & ac. guitars Jonas Saersten – keyboards; guitars; vocals Ole-Andreas Jensen - bass, guitars; vocals Jard Hole – drums With: Iver Sandoy – percussion; backing vocals
Prolusion. The Norwegian band SHAMAN ELEPHANT appeared in the vital and thriving rock scene in Bergen a few years back, and launched their career as recording artists in 2015 with the EP "More". One year later they signed to the Norwegian label Karisma Records, which released their full-length debut album "Crystals" in December 2016.
Analysis. Bergen appears to be a vital breathing ground for high quality bands exploring various facets of rock, as a succession of bands have appeared from that scene in later years. Shaman Elephant is another addition to that scene, and is among the bands that have their focus a bit back in time as far as the music they want to create is concerned. Vintage rock is the name of their particular game, and one with a solid foundation in psychedelic rock, hard rock and progressive rock at that. A key feature in the sound of this band is the booming, hard bass guitar and the solid rhythm section. Vintage hard rock and heavy progressive rock are a staple throughout the album, and the rhythm section sets the pace and intensity for a blend of those modes quite nicely, a driving and vibrant foundation on all songs. Not without moments with more of a careful and elegant mode of expression, but the hard, firm and heavy aspects of those instruments are both vital and recurring throughout. A liberal array of psychedelic instrument details flavor the soundscapes, from subtly cosmic effects to purebred vintage psychedelic guitar effects, where elegant plucked and echoing guitar details are just as much at home as wild, raw and vibrant untamed guitar fireworks. Elegant, vintage-style electric piano flavors the proceedings just as much as the classic hovering organ, and there is indeed room for a few moments of the good, old Mellotron here too. With a powerful vocalist just as able to belt it out as to shift into a carefully controlled, emotional and clean delivery, all of the details add up to a vital and vibrant, quality affair, well executed on all levels. Some variations are thrown into this mix too, like the more jazzr-ock oriented instrumental Tusko, doom-laden riffs closer to the likes of Black Sabbath at the start and end of The Jazz and a raw, emotional blues-tinged sequence on the concluding epic-length Stoned Conceptions, in this latter case with some clear nods in the direction of early Led Zeppelin.
Conclusion. Shaman Elephant comes across as a well developed unit with solid knowledge about vintage era heavy progressive rock and psychedelic rock, and with the skill and talent to utilize a fairly liberal array of inspirations from the golden age of rock to create vibrant and emotional vintage-oriented music of this particular nature, with a touch of jazz here and there, especially in the rhythmic department, expanding the canvas a bit further than many other bands of a similar nature. All in all, this is a quality production that should appeal to both fans of vintage psychedelic rock and heavy progressive rock.
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