The debut album from Norwegian progressive band El Doom & The Born Electric is a magnetic and, at times, mesmeric release, which still leaves one with uncertainties. As powerful and accomplished as the album is it never fully connects to leave one in a kind of limbo opinion wise. Every time it grabs a firm hold and one immerses into its heavy sounds, which is often, there is a moment where the release snatches one out of that enjoyment. Conversely, when it offers up something that has one scratching the head it comes back with a stunning piece or element that pulls one right back into its inventive and diverse mass.
The band was started by singer, guitarist, writer and producer Ole Petter Andreassen (El Doom), an artist well respected for his work as part of The Cumshots and Thulsa Doom and in producing some of the best upcoming artists in Norway. After the demise of Thulsa Doom, Andreassen set about forming El Doom & The Born Electric to bring forth the progressive sounds he loved, which his previous bands never let him fully explore. To make the band as formidable and creative as possible he brought in the cream of Norwegian progressive/jazz in the shape of Norwegian Grammy awarded bass player Nicolai Eilertsen (Elephant 9), brothers drummer Haavard and guitarist Brynjar Takle Ohr (both El Cuero), Hammond organ wizard Ståle Storløkken (Elephant 9) and Hedvig Mollestad (Hedvig Mollestad Trio), as well as having the legendary guitarist Jon Eberson in to add his own expressive textures and leads to some of the music.
With this kind of pedigree you will not be surprised to learn that musically the album is deeply impressive, the songs a feast of vibrant creativity and skill, dripping with pulse racing energy. Released via Rune Grammofon on April 30th, the album gives up the likes of Thulsa Doom, Rush, Deep Purple, Opeth, Mastodon, and Black Tusk in its maelstrom of sounds though for each listener it will differ in who they hear, the music that large and encompassing of influences. This only goes to make each track from ‘Fire Don’t Know’ onwards a consistently unpredictable and captivating listen.
The opener rumbles in on stirring riffs and powerful rhythms whilst immediately persuading the ear to delve deeper with tight grooved melodies. The track takes no time in reducing pace to add easily digestible sharp prog/jazz guitars and invention whilst Andreassen brings forth his words with full expression. The strength of the song apart from the skilled writing and playing is that it is extremely catchy without ever offering anything obvious or easy to join in with, an infection without any notable hooks or lures.
The following ‘It’s Electric’ is a sizzling invigorating creature with a defined grunge rock element to its heavy progressive rock drive. It combines a 60’s, 80’s and modern rock feel within its electrified walls which is as liberating as it is warming. Within two songs one knows the band explores their and a song’s boundaries constantly which often can wrong foot and maybe off put as much as it fires up and hypnotises the senses. On the first two songs though it works a treat and this experimentation come investigation continues through the other five songs though at times to lesser success, the likes of ‘With Full Force’ and ‘The Lights’ ear catching and senses thrilling tracks but with a less engaging and attention holding grip.
Broken down every song is a masterclass of creative rock writing and realisation. The ‘Subtle As A Shithouse’ as an example is a compulsive weave of ideas, textures and ingenuity, the song ranging from direct metal veined rock through progressive majesty on to the grand rock pomp of a Deep Purple/Meat Loaf. It is hard to be critical of the songs and album this good but it just feels like there is a missing spark or key element to prevent the album being more than just a strong and satisfying release.