Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Elks / Black Helium Split 7" Review

Oh My Oh My Oh My / Summer Spells
Elks / Black Helium
Death Pop

Ah! The good old fashioned spilt 7”. Right boys, you got one song to impress, you better make it a good one…

Elks, who graced RB’s very own Long Division this year, earning themselves a swarm of converts, open things up. As those at LD will be aware, they play loud, low slung power dirges of brain rattling beauty. My bones were shaking and I was next door. Elks have two albums under their belt; the first was a little more math rock influenced but the last – ‘Boy Wander’, which saw the band become a three piece, was a whole lot more dirtier; a blues influenced beast, a swarm of malevolence. Unsurprisingly after the live show, it’s a route they’ve continued down. Perhaps even more than Boy Wander it’s an accurate reflection of their live show in terms of its swagger and attitude and ball breaking volume. Perhaps it doesn’t quite have the hook a split single benefits from or the dynamics of some of their other tracks; instead, at 2 and a half minutes it just grabs you by the proverbial with one hand and punches you in the gut with the other. But in a nice way, of course. As an advert for what Elks are all about, you couldn’t ask for more

Black Helium are new to RB and with the opening, dirge slow riff of Summer Spells it’s clear why they are sharing a vinyl with Elks. There’s a more atmospheric approach here, with 60’s echo effects all over the vocals and a verse that is part Slint, part Psychedelia influenced early 90’s grunge. It’s a bit unsettling, again in a good way, the chorus breaking the daze of the spun out verse. It’s a chorus but it doesn’t have a hook, instead just volume, a fuzzed out, hellish riff and a wailing vocal that recalls Hawkwind or some similar era reference (probably early Sabbath). The press promised some Daydream Era type guitar interplay – I would liked more of that angle but Black Helium have a knack of bashing out a relentless, grinding riff and coating it in some fine atmospherics that, despite being twice the length of the Elks track, leaves me wanting more.

Dean Freeman


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