Elephant Tree – ‘Habits’

By James Lillywhite

There is a real sense of impending doom around the world at the moment, so it seems a great time for psychedelic prog-doom merchants Elephant Tree to release their highly anticipated third album ‘Habits’. Their last full length LP was in 2016, but this new release is well worth the wait – Elephant Tree’s expansive and glorious take on doom has given us the perfect record for these uncertain times. 

The opening, dread-inducing drone introduction ‘Wake. Repeat’ gives way to soaring first single ‘Sails’, and Elephant Tree don’t really let up from there. They have amped up the psych and post-rock influences on ‘Habits’, and this really suits the band as they become more experimental – adding the influence of bands like Deftones and Pink Floyd to expand their groovy, doom sound.

Elephant Tree recorded ‘Habits’ in The Church Studios – famous for producing artists like Adele, Nick Cave, and U2 – and it’s paid off nicely, with many songs sounding huge, and often beautiful. The band crunch through massive riff after massive riff, each one smashing through your speakers and occasionally stopping you in your tracks.

But it’s not just riffs on display here. Soaring vocals, acoustic sections, interesting time signature changes, and that growing psychedelic part of their sound all combine to make ‘Habits’ a varied, dynamic listen.

Lyrically, there’s a dark tone throughout the record. The first words heard on the album are “so long, fading, don’t leave me alone”, and they don’t really cheer up from there; touching on loss, depression, loneliness, amongst other themes throughout. Despite this, Elephant Tree aren’t all doom and gloom, and there are hints of positivity to these songs – the spacey vocals and rich harmonies from vocalists Jack Townley and Peter Holland are juxtaposed with the darker lyrics. They build up their longer songs, featuring the trademark doom riffs in movements, adding luscious, quieter moments and creating a journey through each track. 

All in all, ‘Habits’ is a triumph – a record that effortlessly mixes hope and dread, an album made for these crazy times we live in. It’s an album that should rocket Elephant Tree out of the underground, and straight into the mainstream rock world. It is one of the best albums of 2020 so far. 

JAMES LILLYWHITE

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