Dr. Elephant's Revolution: On Our Own
I think it's safe to say that the second you saw the name of the band in the header of this review that you had some preconceived notions about this band. Well, allow me to address those notions before we get started. No, I don't think Dr. Elephant is a Doctor at all, and yes, this band is weird.
Dr. Elephant's Revolution is a two-man-band from Switzerland that features Fred Hubert on Drums, and Maggie De Vault on basically everything else (aside from a few guests offering their instrumental talents on a few tracks). So, the title of the album On Our Own is somewhat comically on the nose in that regard. It's more likely that the band titled the album due to their unique take on alternative metal, as I certainly can't think of another band that sounds quite like them. For better or worse.
The artwork adorning the front of the sleeve on On Our Own is actually pretty wicked; a black and white drawing of a pirate brig (complete with pachydermal adornment) on the high seas with an ominous cloudy sky above. Don't be fooled, Alestorm these guys are not. There's not so much of a hint of jaunty jigs or tales of plunder and wenches here. The songs found inside On Our Own seem to be about anything and everything, but the common thread throughout is the group's quirky sense of humor. I laughed out loud at the absurdity of a few of the tracks due to just how out of left field some of this stuff is. So that's one plus: DER aren't by the numbers at least.
Sonically, these guys sound like a VERY stripped down System of a Down or similar Alt-Metal act of your choice. The riffs are fairly basic, and for the most part pretty repetitive. The drums plod along competently, but there's definitely nothing flashy going on there either. The instrumental aspects of "On Our Own" almost seem to exist solely to provide backdrop to De Vault's half a dozen or so vocal delivery styles. He delivers growls, nasal whines, croons, and pretty much everything in between throughout the album, bearing not just a passing resemblance once again to System of a Down and Serj Tankian. He'll run the gamut of styles in a single track without batting an eye, and it keeps you guessing.
A band like DER will live or die depending on your overall tolerance of the weird and goofy in your music. Not unlike Primus or a band of their ilk, there's just a ton of irreverent shit at every turn and personally I could do without it in most cases. Sure, De Vault will get a chortle out of me when he calls himself names in "Shadow", but beyond the occasional laugh the carnival of stupid starts to wear thin. If there was something exciting or attention-grabbing instrumentally this wouldn't be as big of an issue, but these songs are all largely mid-tempo and samey which makes most of them run together.
The final track on the album "The Last Song: Condemned by the Gods" is the highlight of the album for me, which is surprising and somewhat at odds with my previous complaints, because it's actually an instrumental. It's a slower, spooky, and moodier piece that sounds like the soundtrack to the carnival cruise from hell, which I'm sure is what they were going for. And, mercifully, it's somewhat memorable and doesn't sound like the ramblings of a madman on bath salts.
So, On Our Own will appeal to a certain group of folk that value this kind of absurdity in a stripped down kind-of-metal avant garde smorgasbord. Fans of Primus, Faith No More, Tenacious D, Ween, and the like might be able to find something to like here, but I've never been able to stomach stuff like this, and with little going on beyond the lunacy it's just not a rewarding listen.
2. Canary in a Coal Mine
3. Goose Stepping Steam Train
5. The Nut
7. Man over Board
8. Flying Amsterdam: New Horizons
9. On Our Own
10. La Petite Fleur Rouge
11. Unicorns on Parade
12. Black Hound
14. The Call of the Void
15. The last Song: Condemned by the Gods
Added: June 21st 2021
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band Website
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