A Fucking Elephant / El Drugstore: Split

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A Fucking Elephant / El Drugstore: Split
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A Fucking Elephant / El Drugstore: Split
Experimental, Progressive Metal
Nefarious Industries
July 26th, 2011
Release length: 43:17
A Fucking Elephant Facebook
El Drugstore Facebook
Hailing from New Jersey, Experimental/Progressive Metal acts A Fucking Elephant and El Drugstore come together through the recently formed Nefarious Industries to issue their latest split release. The clearly underground and relatively new acts haven’t really made much of a presence in the music world yet, but with this release starting to circulate in the shadows, it’s hard to deny that these oddly named acts are gearing up to make their presence known. With a release totalling a little more then forty three minutes, each band puts their best foot forward here to offer the most unique listening experience they can muster. But, do these bands manage to make this a split effort worth taking note of?

Both bands bring in some different audio qualities to the mix thanks to how raw one is compared to the other. A Fucking Elephant kicks this release off with four original compositions, and an audio quality that’s clearly a little less then top notch, but still rather clear for it’s slightly more lo-fi sound. The guitars here are gearing more towards that Progressive Rock tone, feeling a little “crunchy” instead of heavy, and harboring a nice sound to work with the groove that is often incorporated to the somewhat off-beat material being presented. This more Hardcore familiar audio sound is complimented nicely with a thick bass presence that doesn’t do much to make an impact to the music, unlike the drum’s bass kick which is much louder and really stands out with the louder cymbols and snares. The set starts with the instrumental “Blue Crab Fantastic” which actually departs from the coming Experimental part of the band’s music, and feels more like a traditional Progressive track building up with a slight hint of a more sinister atmosphere with some Avante-Garde bridges appearing here and there that seemlessly mold to the aforementioned style nicely to the point where you wouldn’t really consider it it out of the norm for the style.

The following tracks do show a bit of a more Experimental sound to the music, as well as usher in some additional vocals. The screaming male vocals do still fit the more underground Hardcore audio quality mold of the release, and works well with the varying heavier levels of the music. “Furious E.” definitely shows a stronger fixation on being a bit different due to groovier bridges that stick primarily to guitar after every few passages of music or lyrics before slamming into some heavier material that still carries that beat the band singles out. Around the half way point, however, the drumming does take a bit of a twisted turn against that pace, coming through faster and more chaotic for a bit of time before the bass becomes heavier and louder to the mix and ushers in a completely different experience all together while still focused on that established groove. It’s interesting to hear the band manipulate such a simple foundation throughout the track, and easily makes this one of the more important cuts from the album, especially for this band. However, “Just the Tip” stands out just as well due to it’s more hectic musical approach and Experimental stance, once again engaging a simple beat that the band started out with and essentially just building up on it without straying too far from the initial rather intricate Progressive guitar riff, leading to a very impressive show of musical prowess. But, while everything up to this point is actually pretty solid, “Holla! No Babies” ends up being a song that isn’t all that impressive, and given it’s seven minute track length, that’s not a good thing. In the end it just feels like an ok instrumental, but far from a song one would really come back to unless you were in the mood to hear specifically hear it.

Up nexy is El Drugstore, which features an audio quality similar to A Fucking Elephant, though slightly rougher a with a deeper, bass-driven sound. Unlike their split mates though, this group only contributes four tracks total, and immediately pushes the Experimental sound with the track “”Those Arm Rests Are Fire.” The song itself is pretty heavy, largely thanks to that stronger bass presence that makes the riffs sound far more crushing and even a lot more chaotic in ways. However, some bridges here do find the guitar chords really going off the deep end while still restrained to the pace of the song, and it ends up coming off more as well orhcestrated noise that works in the sense of the style the band is going for, but ultimately just sounds horrible when it becomes the louder pitched leads instead of the following bass heavy passage that takes the same concept the guitar just did, but makes it feel on key with the rest of the song so that it feels more natural to the crazier foundation. This does seem to happen quite a lot with this band’s material here, but for the most part it feels better suited to the music on later tracks like “Schnurrbart” and “Shit-Eating Dog Kisses.”

“Schnurrbart” again finds the band really going out there with the material they’re playing, though it doesn’t feel off-key and does end up working with the music a bit with it’s chaotic sound, though “Shit-Eating Dog Kisses” all feels a lot more natural to the song and it’s experimental progression, especially with some of the more Avante-Garde freeform riffs they throw at the listener around the halfway point, making this the most impressive song of the set. This song even manages to bleed into the final song of El Drugstore‘s set, “Slamcart,” thanks to some guitar feedback that feels natural to the song and works so well at merging the two that if you’re not paying attention, you’ll just assume “Shit-Eating Dog Kisses” hasn’t ended yet. This track also stands out nicely despite it’s eight minute plus length. The music again feels more fluid from point a to point b for a song of this style, and doesn’t try to push the Experimental side to the point where everything sound horribly off and clashes with one another to the point where it just cmes out as noice more then any sort of music. The band also offers up a good deal of variety throughout the track, and it often branches into various different patterns of expression that are quite interesting to hear thanks to the flow from one section to the next.

Overall, the Split release between A Fucking Elephant and El Drugstore is actually a lot better then you might expect if you judge it based solely on the band names. The music both bands create and manipulate is actually quite intriguing for the most part, though not all the songs on this release will capture your attention, or even come out to be that good. But, the majority of this effort shows both bands at their best, though A Fucking Elephant definitely steals the show. If you’re looking for something far from the norm or even just really underground, then this release is definitely one worth checking out. Given the talent that is here, even if you were to just sample this release or what the bands involved have to offer, you’d be pleasantly surprised at how well theyu can manipulate their music for the sake of art, and still have it come off as something you may otherwise not enjoy.

A Fucking Elephant:
01. Blue Crab Fantastic – 3:37
02. Footbal With Ukranian – 4:29
03. Furious E. – 4:52
04. Just the Tip – 3:28
05. Holla! No Babies – 7:05

El Drugstore:
06. Those Arm Rests are Fire – 5:46
07. Schnurrbart – 2:09
08. Shit-Eating Dog Kisses – 3:04
09. Slamcart – 8:46

Overall Score: 7/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nefarious Industries via Earsplit PR.