Album Review : Hunted By Elephants – Carry On

Review by Peter Coates –

Carry On
Released – Jan 15th 2021 

Hunted By Elephants were formed in the UK in mid-2018 by Apostolos Liapis (vocals), Roman Flourendzou (guitar) and Raymond Phelan (bass), and are now joined by Alex Butticè (drums). The London-based rock ’n’ rollers ignite favourable comparisons ranging from rock heavyweights to modern classic rock acts, and their debut album Rise of The Elephant put them on the underground rock radar in 2019. 

There is a real analogue feel to this record, and an overall old-school rock sound from the guitars, riffs and vocals, and the fat low-end groove of the bass and drums. From the first couple of listens I can hear early Black Sabbath, early Rush, classic blues rock such as Free and Bad Company, and even Deep Purple Mk 1, all of it topped off with a voice that really harks back to those 1970s blues rock bands.

Apostolos comments about the release: “For us, our second album is all about the chemistry of the band in our performing and song-writing. We always wanted to run with how we recorded the first album and how records were made back in the 70s – all the instruments recorded playing live together.”

The opening chords and feedback of Let Me Be set the scene very nicely for the whole record and give the listener a pretty good idea of what is to come – so if this track does not do it for you then maybe the album is not for you.  The riff is solid, bass and drums are in sync, the vocal line has an interesting tone, and the lyrics provide that truly old-school feel.  There is a killer solo here from Roman which sets up the closing chorus and the outro with those chords and drum fills from Alex.

Harmony guitars open Carry On like old-time Lizzy or the wonderful Trespass from NWOBHM days, and the vocals from Apostolos are clear and clean in the verses, with the change of tone in the pre-chorus bringing back that retro feel.  Another tasty solo and some power chord riffing and terrific drumming take us to the close.  The Weapon opens up with a vocal / guitar segment which develops into something very different – think Wolfmother riffs with a Cream-style rhythm section, with Raymond providing an intricate bass-line, and some great accents from the band as a whole which punctuates the song, before another gentle mid-section that leads into a quick solo over the powerful main riff.

There is some welcome Hammond Organ that rears its head in Wiseman which has a really energetic and slightly funky beat, some impressive bass and drum fills, and a powerful vocal performance which has a bit of Rival Sons and Scorpion Child in the delivery, without escaping from the 1970’s feel.   Ghost Song is a true blues rock ballad with some nice atmospheric guitar work, and a jazz-rock feel to the chorus.  The melody in the verses in particular is perfect for Apostolos’ voice and he really excels on this track, while the band provides a laid-back accompaniment and an incendiary solo towards the ending.

A more in your face rocker is up next in Keep On Giving Me Love which is guitar-driven rock in the vein of Praying Mantis or Burn – bands from the 1980’s UK NWOBHM on the bluesier side of the spectrum.  I love the mid-section in this one, but not for the first time find myself questioning some of the vocal phrasing.  Electric is a funkier blues-rock workout that sees Roman really let rip, and a brilliant bit of co-ordinated power from guitar and organ that elevates the track in the back end – with a real Focus sound to it. 

Towards The Light is the not unexpected 7 minute opus, opening with some expressive acoustic guitars and an impassioned vocal.  Instead of developing when the band kicks in, the levels remain pretty steady without any real uplift in dynamics until some piercing screaming, which then drops back to a mellow but delightful solo and harmony guitar break which again seems to be building up to some sort of crescendo, but never quite hits the anticipated power before fading back to the acoustic guitars again.  Maybe live this one will develop more intensity and raw power. 

The band heads back into the more familiar power blues-rock riffage with Believe in Something, and this may be the most impressive vocal performance from Apostolos who delivers an immense lead line, with the band picking up the pace in the frenetic choruses, and a really sharp solo from Roman.  There is a similar feel to album-closer Take Me Away, with a really engaging stripped-back opening verse / chorus that sets the scene for a slow-burning ballad that really does build up through to the middle-eight with the crunching riffs and the glorious high-end vocals which lead into the solo – and then falls back to the final phrase.  These are perhaps my favourite tracks on the record, right up there with the likes of The Answer and Inglorious, without losing the truly retro blues-rock feel!  

This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill rock record, with so many nods back to the originators of British classic rock such as Cream, Atomic Rooster, Free, Led Zep and the earlier Deep Purple, and a wonderful analogue sound from the guitars in particular.  The lead vocals really fit the overall sound, and the backing vocals have a rawness that adds to that vintage sound.

Hunted By Elephants are a band to keep tabs on, and one hopes when live music comes back, that they can translate these songs into what could be a loud and crazy stage show, full of the highs and lows of the record, with that additional power that comes from the audience.

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