Elliotts Keep - Sine Qua Non

Recorded at Nomad Studios in Carrollton, Texas, with J.T. Longoria (Solitude Aeturnus, RobertLowe – Candlemass, Concept of God, Absu, King Diamond) at the controls, "Sine Qua Non" is the follow up to the highly acclaimed masterpiece "In Medias Res". Again on Brainticket Records Elliotts Keep further expand their sound on "Sine Qua Non" which is an exceptionally diverse blend of Traditional Epic Doom utilizing tempo changes and a mix of clean and Death Metal growling vocals. The title Sine Qua Non is Latin for “Without This, Nothing,” meaning, "Without this part of my life, the rest is meaningless" or "something absolutely indispensable or essential." Elliotts Keep are a band that has a sound of their own but as this new album demonstrates, they are redefining themselves and constantly stretching out to take their sound and the Doom Metal genre into uncharted realms. Striking a balance between the demonic and the angelic has always been EK's mode of operation and "Sine Qua Non" adds more fire to the Elliotts Keep cannon of Epic Doom.

Leading the charge into battle is "Fearless" and while "In Media Res" has an gigantic sound, "Sine Qua Non" is even more gargantuan. Thick, warm and rich sounding guitar from Jonathan, solid well rounded bass from Ken and Joel's huge drum sound complete with pummeling double kicks propel "Fearless" along from slow to mid-tempo ass-kickery. The vocals from Ken are again in fine melodic style, blending the clean with the evil and creating both an menacing and anthemic atmosphere. Words like crushing and epic are overused within Doom Metal reviews but in the case of EK, there is no real other way to describe the passion that comes from this 3 piece. "Fearless" is a solid opening track that is infectious without being commercial and intense without resorting to gimmicky Death Metal cliches. Second track confirms the bands intentions with the opening riff that is steeped in glorious Progressive Doom traditions, EK can proudly sit along side Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus in the techniques they play with so much expressiveness and articulation. Like "Fearless" the song builds in tension and dramatic riff building as they stick mostly to the slowish to mid-tempos avoiding the usual plodding nature that most Epic Doom bands indulge in. The solo that takes the tune to its conclusion has a eastern flavor, a element that use on the previous album as well and a facet of the bands style that has become something of a trademark for the band.

"Shades Of Disgrace" is up next and is a major highlight, not only because of its multiple riff and tempo changes but also because it features a guest lead solo from John Perez from Solitude Aeturnus. Before you get to that majestic moment, the band presents to you at least 3 different godly riffs along with a engaging vocal workout. The mixture of the melodic and the aggressive fits the lyrics which is an kind of medievil love song of sorts. The line "I Find Her In My Bottle" is classic (been there before) and when the John Perez unleashes his frenzied solo attack towards the end of the song, it elevates the song beyond unrivaled greatness. This is an really exciting track and easily one of the best songs that Elliotts Keep have produced so far. "Witchburning" is the first time on the album to really take you by surprise for it begins with a furious blast of blackened thrash straight from the old-school metal text-book. This is a nasty but intriguing chunk of black meets doom played at an calculated horror-filled pace. The title "Witchburning" speaks for itself in terms of the lyrical content, Ken growls "She's A Witch, They Shout, Burn Her and yes its hardly ground-breaking lyrics but something about this raises a smile and an chuckle of approval from me, its heavy, neck-tearing and above all else a great fun track to listen to.

"Damned" is an shorter track taking in the usual EK method of building riffs and striking, arousing vocal melodies. The song has a romantic message to it but its not sweet and mushy stuff, the line "Because Of Her I Live In Emotional Death" speaks volumes for those of us tormented by lost loves and unattainable passions. The song again has some powerfully executed guitar work but its the vocals that really grabbed my attention on this one. "Maleficar Validus" is one of the most ambitious tracks on "Sine Qua Non" with the most lyrics but also in the epic arrangement that builds each section up in atmospherics. Subtle but invigorating tempo shifts keep it interesting giving each section of the lyrics its own identity. The tune again includes some supreme beefy guitar work from Jonathan and the pace of the tune is perfect for a good work-out of the neck muscles, a great tune once again keeping the album at a consistently high standard. "Beloved" is another track sticking to Elliotts Keep almost patented formula of the 6-8 minute epic, progressive doom tune. The lyrics again include more Latin phases and words, something that is another major part of the bands blueprint of Doom Metal. A killer riff that any doom band would be proud of owning comes in halfway into the track and thus catapults the song into the last 4 minutes of some exceptionally charming metallic heaviness. There is a certain charm and elegance to Elliotts Keep and a kind of hypnotic quality to there arrangements to keeps you tuned in, another important trait is the more you listen, the more music comes out of it, the deeper you listen, the more you absorbed and it gets better with every spin of the disc.

The final track and a very fitting way to end the album is "Darkest Corner". This song again is built around a arousing theme and subtle progressive Doom Metal tenancies. The drums and bass are again locked in to a solid groove and the melodic and highly unique vocals really make Elliotts Keep a band that stands out from the "Norm" in Doom and Heavy Metal in general. Elliotts Keep are still within the realms of Doom and Progressive Metal but "Sine Qua Non" has the band playing in a more old fashioned approach while still retaining the sound established on the debut release. Fans of Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass and Grand Magus will get their rocks off to this fine recording and speaking of Solitude, Elliotts Keep are also from Texas and are quickly becoming the leaders of Texan Doom. The Texan connection is made even stronger on "Sine Qua Non" by the guest appearance of SA's John Perez who is also the chief honcho of Brainticket Records. Elliotts Keep have arrived big time with this release and if you loved the debut, there is no reason but to adore this one. For newcomers to the band, forget crappy Myspace samples and the like, you need the real thing. Buy the album, support the band and check out the band live, from all the feedback I have received they kill it live. Elliotts Keep are the US Epic Doom masters of the moment.

1. Fearless
2. Fate
3. Shades Of Disgrace
4. Witchburning
5. Damned
6. Maleficar Validus
7. Beloved
8. Darkest Corner
Brainticket Records
Reviewer: Ed
Nov 3, 2010
Next review: Rorcal - Heliogabalus

Share this: