Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Live Elephant - Speak The Truth Or Die Alone

Live Elephant
Speak The Truth Or Die Alone
Pantherfarm/Ninetone Records

For a band that’s been around for the better part of two decades, there’s not a whole lot of information about Swedish (Umeå based) outfit Live Elephant. And in terms of output, the band hardly qualify as the most prolific of acts, having only released three full-length albums within that time (1996’s ‘Skin N’ Bone’, 2000’s ‘Masterhead’ and 2006’s ‘Into The Machinery’). While Live Elephant have yet to find success, it hasn’t been through a lack of trying, with the band having earned support slots alongside Deep Purple and Europe guitarist John Norum solo tours in the past - all achieved without the aid of any label support.
Six years after the release of their last album, Live Elephant (Who comprise of vocalist/drummer Morgan ‘Mogge’ Eriksson, lead/rhythm guitarist Mathias ‘Matte’ Nylén, rhythm guitarist Henrik ‘Henke’ Mikaelsson, bassist Olov ‘Olle’ Norberg and drummer Olov ‘Jompa’ Nilsson) are back with their fourth album ‘Speak The Truth Or Die Alone’ - which is their first release to be distributed worldwide through Pantherfarm/Ninetone Records.
Live Elephant has generally been described as a thrash act by most, yet the band have coin their sound as ‘Slugger Metal’. But on the opening track ‘Hellyeah! (Come Taste My Blood)’, there’s no denying the strong influence Pantera has on the band, with the song delivered with a fast paced groove, powerful riff and drum structures and a powerful and commanding performance from Nylén out front. Despite the obvious comparisons, the track itself is a great tune, and the varied tempo changes, catchy chorus and brief spurts of melodic lead work give the song an undeniably infectious energy that makes you sit up and take notice.
The slower paced follow-up track ‘Before I Die’ sees a slight change, with a sound that brings to mind a more straight forward and groove driven Lamb Of God, while ‘Dead End Sorrows’ sits somewhere in-between the two above mentioned acts, but with an added European edge thrown into the mix. Needless to say, this song is definitely one of the album’s many highlights.
‘Hurt’ is a bit of an oddity on the album with its Meshuggah-like intense and dense riffing grooves, but still manages to slot in with the other tracks with its strong choruses, while tracks such as ‘Back To The Roots’, ‘Black Crown’ and ‘End Of The Line’ showcase the so-called thrash side of the band’s sound, with traces of latter day Testament’s melodic thrash sound rising a little more to the surface.
But while there’s plenty of twists and turns throughout the album, it’s the Pantera-like groove metal sound that dominates most of the sound and direction of the majority of the songs, with ‘Oh Sweet Lord’ (Which has a touch of Down’s heavy southern styled vibe injected into its riffs), ‘B’ and the title track ‘Speak The Truth Or Die Alone’ the definite favourites from the remainder of the album.
It’s taken Live Elephant a while to release a new album, but the time spent on ‘Speak The Truth Or Die Alone’ has been well worth the effort. The album is richly diverse, catchy and heavy as hell, and a testament to the band’s hard work. If there were any justice in the music business, this album should finally earn the band some well earned and overdue success.

For more information on Live Elephant, check out - http://www.myspace.com/liveelephant

© Justin Donnelly