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Elephant Bell – Gates of Dawn

Elephant Bell
Gates Of Dawn
by Lauren Fonto at 19 April 2017, 1:12 PM

Putting a band into its context within the history of metal often makes for interesting reading. I learned something new regarding stoner rock – ELEPHANT BELL belong in the second wave of Stoner Rock, which includes DOZER, LOWRIDER, GREENLEAF, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, UNIDA and DEVILLAC. “Gates of Dawn” was originally released in 2011, but didn’t quite get a proper release.

Out to raise hell? Then this album is a good sound track. The boys tell tales of hedonism, from highs to hook-ups, all set to a laid-back stoner groove. Opener “So Pure” starts on a “high” – literally. The music and lyrics come together to capture the essence of being on a high, with its catchy, rushing guitars. Unfortunately, the vocals didn’t give me a good first impression, as they sounded like a not-quite-there attempt to create a Layne Staley feel. Things picked up vocals-wise from “Demon Seducer” onwards. I especially liked Tomi Mykannen’s sultry performance on “Dreamwheel”, and the great harmonies on “Mojo Filter”.

While the band has a good musical formula going for the most part, I think things got a bit too laid-back in places, and I found myself getting restless, despite the relatively short length of the tracks. On the plus side, the production is done well, which allows space for J.J. Strangler’s thick bass tones to ooze through the “spaces” in the other musicians’ parts. Another plus side is the tracks on the last third of the album. An FX pedal is put to good use on “Mojo Filter”; it adds an esoteric feel to the track. Tom C. Johnson’s guitar solo has that mojo! “Straight To Hell” has a chilled-out jam part despite its title, with riffs that flow like a lazy stream. Things end on a spacey, whimsical note with “The Last Scene”. The strong main riff gives the song a solid musical base, and there’s a cool build-up of boiling riffs.

“Gates of Dawn” makes for a great soundtrack to a wild roadtrip, and there’s some good stuff here. The album doesn’t quite have enough power to elevate it to “excellent”, but it was a pleasant listen. Stoner rock fans should give “Gates of Dawn” a listen, and hear for themselves if it hits the right spot.

Songwriting: 6
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. So Pure
2. Demon Seducer
3. The Sun Is Going Down
4. Come To See the Show
5. Escape
6. Dreamwheel
7. Bug In The Soup
8. The Sweet Babylon
9. Mojo Filter
10. Straight To Hell
11. The Last Scene
J.J. Strangler – Bass
Migis Thunderthrone – Drums
Tom C. Johnson – Guitars, backing vocals
Tomi Mykkanen – Vocals, guitars 
Record Label: Argonauta Records


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