The Elephant Parallax

the Elephant Parallax EP

Written by: TL on 07/09/2011 01:01:54

You know for a fact that a band is small when it has fewer likes on facebook than Rockfreaks.net. Using that as a measure however, Californian four-piece The Elephant Parallax are only about half as popular as this website, and with this being nothing to be proud of, it's fairly likely that they're hoping for it to change as a consequence of their recent release of a self-titled debut (I think!) EP. The band plays a style of mathy, progressive rock/metal, that draws my thoughts towards bands like The Mars Volta, Three and Damiera, and while they are arguably a little darker and some times also heavier than either of them, they still seem more aligned with such modern named than some of the more dated types of bands that usually call themselves prog.

It is initially surprising to realise just how good "the Elephant Parallax" is in terms of sound alone. The songs are intricately written and expertly played, hinting that guitarists Benigno Esay Gonzales and David Renteria definitely know a thing or two about shredding. The first one on offer is "Strangers", which open its seven plus minutes with a flurry of notes and high pitched vocals that definitely sound like Mars Volta, dwelves into mathcore territory with a stretch of screeching notes and jagged rhythms, then slows to a crawl for a minute, before heading into a eerie mood reminiscent of the more moody Dillinger Escape Plan material. And that's just a rough description of what goes on in the first five and a half minutes of the song, which doesn't by itself convince me that the band is capable of stringing their parts together entirely well enough to justify such long songs.

Track two, "Incenfeminalgia" is both a shorter and more subtly composed offering then, clocking in at a more reasonable five minutes, flowing much better in its progression from hesitant to hard rocking and featuring slightly darker, manlier vocals for the most part. It is followed by "Ahead While Stopping", which is essentially a two minute interlude made up of ambience and break beats, and sounds like some of the creepy stuff you'd find on a Dog Fashion Disco record. "Aglow From The Chasm" then opens with more frenetic Mars Volta/Damiera-ish guitar action and a nice dynamic between the now Tool sounding singing and screams, before breaking down similarly to "Strangers" for a chilled part that gives the listener pause before things get heavy and busy again towards the ending sixth minute. Again, lyrics not considered, it's a little hard to feel the connection between the parts on either side of the songs restrained mid-section.

The last song on offer is "Awaken A Wave", which now has the singing sounding a bit Mike Patton-influenced, while the instrumentals are still in a darkened Mars Volta land. By now it comes as no surprise that things get casual about halfway through the song, but before we reach the ending at seven minutes and twelve seconds, the song will repeat the ebb and flow routine once more, eventually leading up to a rather quirky solo section, the rhythm of which seems a little cheesy compared to the rest of the otherwise rather serious sounding material. The question is though, what is one to make of all this at the end of the record?

Well, I can't claim to be an expert on proggy things, mostly because I tend to feel like bands that are longwinded are like that, not because their songs need to be longer to achieve some greater artistic goal, but because the bandmembers just want to spend more time showcasing their technical abilities and their desire for pissing on to conventional songwriting. And that's sort of also my beef with "the Elephant Parallax", which displays some crystal clear playing and recording skills on behalf of its parent band, but also has fans of tighter songwriting (see: me) asking for the point of stringing as many parts together as is done in "Strangers" for instance. It's funny, because the song with the shortest length and the weirdest name, "Incenfeminalgia", is in my opinion the band's best shot at making a lasting impression, and unless they're content with playing to only a niche of hardcore prog lovers, I'd suggest that they try to build on its qualities, maybe working in a bit more of a red thread in their future material.

Download: It all, for a price of your choosing, right here
For The Fans Of: The Mars Volta, 3, Damiera
Listen: facebook

Release Date 01.05.2011
Apes Who Looked Up Records

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