Working toward the big reveal, part two of the Bull Elephant mythological trilogy rises from the dead to shake you up.
Last year the secret band Bull Elephant released their self-titled album and started the generator of an emerging mythology. To recap, “Bull Elephant is the story of a slain African elephant that occultist Ahnenerbe SS attempted to bring back from the dead as a new form of battle asset. However, before re-animation could be completed it was intercepted by a mysterious witch-shaman, pursuing her own agenda and redirecting the undead creature’s purpose.” Back again now for Part II, the story gets stranger.
The story (or maybe just the environment) this time is teased by a journal entry. “I wept at the pain of loss for my child destroyed. But now he is born again; created from death as once he was, yet in a new form. He will be safest under the protection of the ape. As for myself, I can feel the end is near. The coming world war will be fought both in conventional theatres and as a secret war for control over a cosmic power that neither side fully understand. – Journal of Olivia Parnell, 23 August 1939.”
What happened to the elephant? It was destroyed at the end of the last album and resurrected/reconstructed in human form and placed in the care of that ape (see the cover image). There is a lot more going on here. The bird’s eye view of the story is, “As with the debut album, think of the background concept as Raiders of the Lost Ark set to a doom-tinged heavy metal soundtrack where Judeo-Christian mythology is replaced by the even more sinister universe hinted at in the writings of H. P. Lovecraft…with Nazi zombies, assault wolves and a battle-armoured whale that makes Moby Dick seem tame.”
The story is mostly lost on me, but the music is still there. The lyrics to the songs are interesting and engaging, and I prefer to take them as separate pieces even if they do fit together into some greater whole.
“Created By Death” opens this episode on a very cosmic doom note. The vocals alternate between death-metalesque growls and mid-heavy clarity, which captures the essence of the theme well. “Oneiromantic Rites” has many quiet and calm moments, but the gravity of the menace is never far removed. The fury picks up in the next song, and falls away again with a gentle outro. The entire album has this unsettling pulsing pattern that keeps you on the move in your head. The rumbling rhythm holds you on the path while the vocals and lead and riff guitar work propel the action and nuance. Towards the end of the set there is the spastic punch of “Perverted Science,” a two and a half minute guitar rampage followed immediately by “Escape to the Arctic,” a six minute epic-colored seafaring space opera. The closer is “Wayfarer,” and it has the feel of a song that is setting up the final movement, yet to come.
Available Friday, August 14, in corporeal form as well as digital, you can snap it up at Bandcamp. If you can follow the story, that’s great, but even if you can’t the music is a plundering dynamo that’ll ring your ears. Recommended.
FFMB review of the 1st Bull Elephant album, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2019/11/15/bull-elephant-new-release-review/