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Album Review: TBA

Friday, June 22, 2012

Album Review: The Elijah – I Loved I Hated I Destroyed I Created

Can you begin to imagine what a combination of ambient and screamo might sound like? Perhaps a combination of hardcore and shoegaze? I think my brain just got knotted trying to pull the two concepts together. And yet we know there are bands out there, right now, attempting to meld the two concepts into one. In fact, I have one here in front of me. They are the UK’s and they are in the business of carefully creating softly, shuffling, rangy pieces, only to pepper them with vicious, derisive howls in an attempt to drive their true intentions home. Their music is mind-bogglingly vast. If you were to describe any band as epic it would be this band. Rather than merely listen to their songs, you live them. But is the gap between polished smooth and hacked rough just too wide to suck you in; to keep you hooked?

cite influences like ’ control of classical and electronic ambience and the experimental post-rock of but, more pertinently, the combination of feather-light touch and slap in the chops instantly draws comparison with and and, to an extent, and .

Recorded in an abandoned country mansion in Shropshire, the band have utilised the structures’ natural reverb; the music reaching deep into those resonant recesses to dredge up a complex, textured and inherently bleak sound which they use to blanket the listener with. Whilst the instrumental beauty of “In Regret” is a track that allows for those many textures to be dissected, with its metronomic sweeping bows and harsh, hammering strings, the album’s heart and soul lies in the vocals. They sit atop this multi-layered wall of gently-shifting emotion like bricks and mortar on concrete foundations. Dan Tomley is the screamer, providing the blocky, vein-bulging angst, whilst Mike McGough is the crooner, the binding agent, smothering the cracks with a dark, sweeping sorrow.

Back to that question and here we are being sucked in by “In Misery”. Closing your eyes it’s easy to picture a turbulent, boiling surface of a horizon-filling ocean. When the moment arrives for Tomley’s roars to cut in they come without apology – “I can barely breathe, I can barely speak”, he falteringly croaks. Yet here, surrounded by gut-wrenching pain, they feel integral. Tracks like “In Death” and “I Hated” benefit similarly with “The thought that I have torn the smile from your pale-skinned face” being a barbed lyric that will worm its way in deep. However, throw those screams into direct conflict with McGough’s subtle hues, as they do at the very peak of “I Loved” and those foundations begin to sink, the cracks reappear and their is a sudden loss of cohesion between each element. The levels become overloaded and the listener can find thereselves overwhelmed as the basic instinct for “fight or flight” is triggered. That takes some getting used to, but those who stick with this can learn to stay hooked and possibly even love this. I’ll admit, I ran away like a little girl and it was a while before I crept back from behind the couch to press the “play” button once more.

Ultimately, it’s not the aggressively maudlin content or the clashing vocals that irk the most, it’s the repetitious nature of the tones and hues that leaves somewhat of a bad taste in the mouth. have produced a debut album with sharp claws and hackles that are quick to raise during its darkest, most volatile moods. All well and good but, by my reckoning, they need to show a little more control and a touch more ingenuity if they are to stand out from their peers. Prepare accordingly.

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