Review: Lord Elephant ‘Cosmic Awakening’

By now, any fan of underground heavy rock, and any regular reader of The Sleeping Shaman, will surely have noticed the wave, upon wave of killer bands, in all realms of underground rock & roll, hailing from Italy. The country is fertile ground for all things fuzzy, heavy, and psychedelic, to say nothing of the fact that one of the biggest, and most respected underground labels in the world, Heavy Psych Sounds is based in Rome. Well, right on cue, enter Lord Elephant, an instrumental power trio from Florence, Italy, who are dropping their long-awaited debut, Cosmic Awakening, on the aforementioned Heavy Psych Sounds.

Lord Elephant 'Cosmic Awakening'

The word I’d use to describe Lord Elephant’s sound is massive. Evidently, the band have spent the ensuing six years since their inception fine-tuning their tone, sound, and approach. There are riffs, upon riffs, layer upon layer, and the whole thing just flows together sublimely, one passage flowing into the next. Cosmic Awakening, awakens, sorry, with Cosmic Awakening Pt. I – Forsaken Slumber, which literally sounds like the title. Waves of guitar effects, and lead work, courtesy of guitarist Leandro Gaccione, bass rumbles from Edoardo De Nardi, and slow rolling drums from Tommaso Urzino bathe the listener before giving way to Cosmic Awakening Pt. II – First Radiation, where we really get a taste of their huge sound. Riffs for days and killer lead work from Gaccione, and man, that rhythm section of De Nardi and Urzino is just massive.

But we’re just getting started as the fuzzed out, cosmic bass of De Nardi introduces the crush-fest that is Hunters of the Moon. A huge lunging, heaving riff acts as the anchor of the song, and it will undoubtedly have the listener banging his head. Add some stellar, psychedelic lead work from Gaccione, and a rolling tumbling outro from De Nardi and Urzino before weaving into that lunging riff, and this cut is next level. Another highlight is Desert Collison as Lord Elephant navigate many layers, movements, and moods into this track, taking the listener on a real sonic journey.

De Nardi, possessing a bass tone that is at a minimum in the same universe as Mika Häkki from Monolord, and I mean that as the biggest of compliments, introduces the colossal Raktabija, a rolling, crushing, riff monster, and yet another highlight on an album full of them. Throughout, drummer Tommaso Urzino really shines. His fills, rolls, and crashes all carry the song, as he brings both the power and the fury. Additionally, his tone is fantastic, sitting right alongside the sonic heft of his two bandmates.

Riffs for days and killer lead work from Gaccione, and man, that rhythm section of De Nardi and Urzino is just massive…

Covered In Earth’s Blood could very well be the centerpiece of Cosmic Awakening as Lord Elephant throw their heft all over the place. Covered In Earth’s Blood features many layers, and movements, all of them killer, and all three band members step into the spotlight throughout, with De Nardi‘s bass, both tone and playing being of particular note, as it is throughout the record.

First single Stellar Cloud, premiered right here on The Sleeping Shaman, changes the pace a bit with a slightly slower tempo and a spacey opening featuring, you guessed it, De Nardi‘s bass, as well as some trippy lead work from Gaccione, all before the inevitable crush of riffs come toppling down on you. Urzino gets the opening spotlight on closer Secreternal before De Nardi and Gaccione join in and the band rides waves of riffs, while bashing their way to the crushing finale. Whew.

I listened to Cosmic Awakening a lot in preparation for this review. There is a lot going on in every song, as the band move through their various movements, fluidly and with a great sense of dynamism, really taking the listener on a journey, and when they bring the heavy, they do not fuck around. This whole record crushes, and it sounds fantastic as well. It’s produced very well, and all three musicians stand out for their tone, as much as their musicality.

When I think of killer instrumental bands, Earthless and Karma To Burn (RIP Will Mecum) instantly come to mind for their ability to keep a listener’s attention without vocals. Well, add Lord Elephant to that conversation as well. I already have Earthless’s latest among my favorite releases of the year, looks like another instrumental band may be joining them in Lord Elephant. Another excellent release from Heavy Psych Sounds.

Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Martin Williams