Bad Elephant Music are true prog champions. So much good stuff has received a higher profile – more power to their elbows!
This is the third album from the UK-based Watership Doom psych-proggers. That said, it’s the first one I’ve come across – courtesy of BEM. Originally conceived as an instrumental project fusing horror movie soundtracks with avant-metal, the band shamelessly raid 1970s progressive, 1980s post-punk and 1990s extreme rock to create a genuinely unique, radical and uncompromising sound that remains staunchly melodic and strangely accessible.
The band was founded by Andrew Prestidge (Suns of the Tundra, Zoltan, Winters) and Chris Fullard (Winters) in 2013, releasing their debut album, Blazing World, the following year, hailed as “…a provocative and self-asserting album by Planetmosh.com, and described by Metalasf***.net as “arty, sing-song, dark prog…marvellous”.
Blazing World was promoted by a series of provocative live performances, the band donning robes and plague masks to enhance the mood. The masks were gone by the time of The Wine-Dark Sea in 2018, an album which once again gained prog and rock press praise – “an effervescent blend of psychedelic rock, glowering post- punk and mischievous, scattershot prog” (Metal Hammer).
So this third album takes us on a journey into the realms of psychedelia, prog, doom-folk and other genres yet to be truly discovered. Acoustic guitars and Mellotron broaden the musical palette encompassing influences and evoking musical memories. Gong meet Sabbath meet VDG meet Kula Shaker meet PRR anyone?
What fascinates me, is that I listened to this album before taking a look at any artwork or photos. I was impressed with the energy and freshness, the youthful exuberance and the playful inventiveness. And then I saw their pictures (below). Must be some elixir of life they’ve patented or devilish agreement they’ve signed with BEM!
Lyrically, the inspiration is in part medieval tales of headless knights, blind hares, wild hunts by moonlight and snow-choked English landscapes, lyrics conjuring a world of mysterious powers spilling into reality and ancient forces waiting to be unleashed.
Invoking authors such as Arthur Machen and MR James, the musical content faithfully mirrors this magical summoning of energies both benign and infernal.
I’m spellbound. Decide which path you are going to take!
3. The Inmost Light part 1
4. The Inmost Light part 2
5. Diamonds In The Wishing Well
6. Count Magnus
7. The Green Chapel I: The Green Chapel
8. The Green Chapel II: Blind Hare & The Pale Lady
9. The Green Chapel III: Winter’s End
10. The Green Chapel IV: My Lord The Sun
11. The Crow
Sean Cooper – lead vocals (1, 2, 5, 6, 11), bass, synthesizers
Simon Oakes – lead vocals (3, 4, 7, 8 ,9, 10), cornet, synthesizers
Chris Fullard – guitars, FX
Roland Scriver – guitars, acoustic guitars
Andrew Prestidge – drums, percussion, guitar, synthesizers
Hanna Petterson – saxophone
Misha Hering – Oberheim 4 Voice
Tracks 1, 2, 5 & 6 written by Sean Cooper, Andew Prestidge, Chris Fullard and Roland Scriver.
Tracks 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 & 10 written by Simon Oakes, Andew Prestidge, Chris Fullard and Roland Scriver.
Track 11 written by Andrew Prestidge and Sean Cooper.
Recorded at Holy Mountain Studios, Bethnal Green, in January 2020.
Engineered and mixed by Misha Hering.
Assistant Engineer – Stanley Collins Gravett.
Mastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering.
Art direction and concept by Roland Scriver and Andrew Prestidge.
Sleeve designs by Roland Scriver at Familiar Ink.
Illustrations by Roland Scriver at Familiar Ink and Andrew Prestidge at Morlock Art