Gates Of Dawn – CD // DD
Argonauta Records – Release Date: April 28, 2017
Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr
From: Lappeenranta, Helsinki Finland
Band Members: Tommy Waits – vocals, guitar / Tom C. Johnson – guitar, vocals
J.J. Strangler – bass, vocals / Migis Thunderthrone – drums
Previous Releases: Sunchaser Demo (2000) / Dreamwheel EP (2001) / Electric Shoes EP (2005) / Painless EP (2005) / Rip My Head Off (2008)
This marks the first released outing for ELEPHANT BELL in almost 9 years and is the first full length release in the history of. Each previous release embraced a punk-production level, complete with guitars that were scratch-thin and pissed off lending credo to the claim for each that the band was even MORE stoned than they had been with the one before it. I expected no less than more of the same as they had pretty much defined themselves in this manner and how much difference could nine years make and from what I could glean, there is only one new member in the personage of J.J. taking the bottom end to heart. I went back and re-acquainted with some of the older tracks to get ready for this release and when I noticed two familiar song titles ‘The Sun Is Going down’ and ‘Dreamwheel’, I was ready to hit play and soak in what was about to come at me. . . Engage…
What jumped out of my speakers with this psycho-phased out guitar line twisting over Tommy’s vocal before this thick pure rock and roll freight train is rolling at full speed as ‘So Pure’ rips you out of your seat, setting a tone that I in NO WAY expected and was devouring with each note, my heart racing in pure joy at the level these guys have risen to in this return, exceeding every possible expectation I had conjured up and ‘Demon Seducer’, ‘Escape’ and ‘Straight To Hell’ keep that rock-n-roll aesthetic working flawlessly while ‘Bug In The Soup’ shows another side, but not necessarily what you might expect; remember, lose the preconceptions with this album, as ‘Mojo Filter’ will remind you as the multi layered voices of 3/4 of this quartet lead you along with another side, again, not what you may have been expecting, especially with the shimmering solo sections that seem lightly laced in a middle eastern flavor, just hinting at harmonics in the softest distorted touch.
‘Come See The Show’ would be the PERFECT track to open each show just as ‘The Last Scene’ is the obvious and most fitting choice as a last song of the evening, even as an encore in it;’s blissfully baked mixture of Moog sounding keys spinning fuzzed out chords that could have been lifted from some 70’s sci-fi, until that ever heavy bass line takes over your pulse and then those lilting voices fade in and out, left and right until at 2 minutes in, Tommy grabs your attention again with an almost whisper voicing that forces you to pay closer attention, taking it all in. ‘The Sweet Babylon’ is probably one of the most dynamic songs this band has written to date and utilizes ALL facets of stoner / psych / and sludge thick bass tones to create one of those songs that is over just too damn SOON as the sheer flow from beginning to end is just precision and beauty in motion that you want to just keep going on and on, as the reworked lean-and-mean version of ‘The Sun Is Going Down’ reminds you of how far this band has truly come since 2008 when they first let this one out of the box that while holding that feel of the original, it is beyond obvious the level of musicianship to make this as razor sharp as anything out there.
And then there’s ‘Dreamwheel’, which I thought was a remake of the track on the 2001 EP of the same name, but I can’t recognize that and this as similar in ANY manner of than name. The slice and dice guitar tones and just how beyond rolling in perfect symmetry as this one, and the whole album for that matter, demonstrates to be, this seems to be the perfect stage for the world to take notice and dive in deep. Buy the record the second it comes out and support them WHEN they come to your area!!