They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but just one look at the album art of Shaman Elephant’s Crystals should give you a fair indication of what kind of music you’ll find within.
The rollicking grooves in the title track had me head banging within the first few minutes of listening. Glorious, glorious riffing! Shaman Elephant are here to rock! Just listen to it. Outstanding. Vocalist Eirik Sejersted Vognstølen has a very 70’s throwback style of singing that reminds me of Wolfmother at times. Not that I’m calling Shaman Elephant clichéd, but it is fairly obvious where their influences lie. The keyboards are welcome – something that I don’t hear much of within the confines of my usual listening tastes – and the fuzzy guitars are brilliant – taking me back to the haze of seeing guitarists like Slash and Gary Clark Jr in concert.
“Shaman in the Woods” – centered around a busy riff that lasts the full bar – is very pretty, but bores compared to the more urgent “I.A.B”, which has a delightfully filthy bass tone, distorted guitars and wild singing. The song is saturated in effects that add vibrant texture. I want more of this driven Deep Purple feel!
“Tusco” is an instrumental track, sensitively based around introspective jazz playing on the keys. The song slowly gains momentum as guitar and drums cautiously enter the conversation and lightly dance around. Ironically, following track “The Jazz”, isn’t nearly as jazzy, but in fact feels very sludgy, bordering on doom-metal at times. Great tracks, both.
At 12.33 minutes, “Stoned Conceptions” wraps up this album stunningly. At times plodding along lazily, and then suddenly letting loose – full noise. It coaxes you into a lulled state before wailing into your faces with the fury of a hurricane.
Crystals is a sprawling, epic mess that comes together magically. Prog-rock is often convoluted by nature. In this case the psychedelic overtones add even more confusion to the mix. But what a glorious mix it is! Somehow, we have both extreme variety and cohesiveness all in one. If you want a great Woodstock-era throwback then make Shaman Elephant your next port of call.