Elks unleash killer space sludge on debut

If you put on “Destined for the Sun,” the debut album from Elks, and we quizzed on from where you think the band hails, my guess if we’d get Atlanta or Savannah more often than not.

That’s because the burgeoning quartet sound like they drink from the same water supply as bands such as Mastodon, Kylesa and Black Tusk, mixing muddy thrashing with sludgy heaviness in a way that should make a fan of anyone who enjoys those aforementioned bands. But instead, Elks hail from Brooklyn, and while you may instantly think of hipster silliness when considering that borough of New York, these guys do it ugly and get down in the gutter. But it’s not of a meathead variety, which I worry some tend to think when something’s described as dirty. It’s intelligent and well calculated, and there’s a cosmic storyline that involves a tribe of space Vikings and a “super computer” at the end of the universe called “The Wizard.” Yeah, it’s weird and apocalyptic, and it reminds me conceptually of what The Sword explored on their most recent record. But most of all, this thing is just heavy as hell.

The album’s a pretty short one, as it runs six tracks and is just a bit over 22 minutes long, so it’s really more like an EP. Luckily, the band doesn’t waste one second on this thing, steamrolling right into opener “White Fangs Learn to Hate” in a way Mastodon used to way back when they were first getting started. Only, I want to say Elks do it even nastier. “Two Moons of Mars” has a punchy, violent tempo, and it’s dressed a bit by some power metal riffage; “Destined for the Sun” lets a little bit of Southern rock thunder enter into the equation; while closer “Weed Wolf” is dizzying, smoldering, and not nearly as easy going as the title might suggest. Sure, you end up in a cloud of smoke when the song’s over, but it’s only altering your mind in that you’re trying to figure out a way to recover from all the bruising.

This a really awesome, beast-like debut record, and from someone who often feels overwhelmed in the sludgy swamps because of just how many bands are soaking in there now, finding a new group that is this exciting is a big plus. This is a highly recommended record that’s dropping at just the right time, when summer’s ending, darkness comes calling early, the beers are getting darker, and we have more time to gaze into the stars. You’ll feel this one when it’s over, and my guess is you’ll be back for return bouts quite often. I know I will be, no matter how badly my ears are bruised and battered.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elks/8805335209?sk=info

To buy “Destined for the Sun,” go here: http://teepee.hasawebstore.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://teepeerecords.com/

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