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Evoke Thy Lords : Lifestories

More focused and less channelled than previous outings, Evoke Thy Lords are still gloriously eccentric.

Russia's Evoke Thy Lords tick a few boxes for sure. Principally the ones marked 'strange', 'non-conformist' and 'idiosyncratic'. Which is all very fine and dandy. They got my vote for album title of the decade with 2015's 'Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!' and now, two years on, they offer up their fourth full-length in the shape of 'Lifestories', where they basically refine the sound and style of the previous release and remind us all what jolly strange fun it was. So sit down, turn on and tune in.

We could be here all day trying to fit them into a category. Doom, yes. Stoner, absolutely. Doom/Death, vocally, yes. 'Post-something', I very much doubt it. Gothic, not on this release. Psychedelic, for sure. 'Life Is A Trick' sounds like Soundgarden on Ketamin, and so on...pick your own comparisons.

Anyway, back to that refined sound. The songwriting is a confident step up this time and is complemented by a surer-sounding production. The flip side of this is that 'Lifestories' loses a little of the experimental folly that predates it in their back catalogue. It's no less an enjoyably progressive trip though, but this is Evoke Thy Lords rocking out more. More focused, as opposed to being channelled.

You can't really write this review without mentioning Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull. Iommi-style, wandering bluesy jams are augmented with a shrill birdsong-esque flute. However, what you get with Evoke Thy Lords is the rather more trippy and ethereal stylings of Ozric Tentacles' "Jumping" John Egan as opposed to the gutsy hoot of Ian Anderson...and it works, oh so well. The meandering scapes of 'Heavy Weather' (itself a Tull-sounding title) brings the spacey psych elements of the band to the fore, and is for me the album highlight.

Apart from the vocals I would ignore the Death/Doom labels, and follow the yellow brick road into their lysergically enhanced world of psychedelic doom. The vocals work though, they just sound like the bad bits of those trips we'd rather weren't lurking in the subconcious, and there are some cleaner vocals periodically smoothing things over. The whole 'cake' is assuredly made from a Stoner mix, but with added elements of eccentricity, and, like all great eccentrics, it's principally not so much what they're doing but the way they're doing it.

To be honest, take a break from whatever Doom usually tickles your fancy and get some Evoke Thy Lords in your system. If you like a musical curveball (albeit a relatively safe one) from time to time, then it's high time you tried 'Lifestories' or its predecessor. All that's required is an open mind and perhaps a bit of whatever takes your recreational fancy. As for myself, if you'll forgive me, I've got some rather large mushrooms in the basement that need attending to.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Regressed
2. Still Old
3. Life Is A Trick
4. Heavy Weather
5. Stuff It

Duration : Approx. 37 minutes

Visit the Evoke Thy Lords bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-05-03 by Matt Halsey
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