Swiss doom, hypnotic trio E-L-R create adventure that’s equally molten, dream-making on ‘Vexier’

Photo by Ramon Lehmann

For the past six months or so, I’ve been using a CBD vape cartridge to calm my anxiety and make what’s been a particularly stressful period of my life a little bit more bearable. It kind of washes over my brain and eases me into what I have to do, and it helps shut down the static any time my stupid brain reminds me I’m supposed to be panicking right now. It’s been a revelation.

Taking on “Vexier,” the second full-length from Swiss doom trio E-L-R, reminds me of that chemical reaction that somehow manages to quell my chaos. Over five expertly woven tracks, the band—guitarist/vocalist S.M., bassist/vocalist I.R., drummer M.K., (Remo Häberli provides additional guitars)—crafts creations that soak in doom’s dark pools, but they do so with a sense of wonder and serenity, almost acting like a drug that gets into your system and lets you feel just enough fire before pulling you back to safety. While the band certainly employs its share of metallic energy, the flip side is so involved and mesmerizing, letting you take on this adventure with a sense that you’re soaring through imagination, exploring peaks and valleys previously unattainable outside of your mind.

“Opiate the Sun” arrives amid clean, soothing guitars and a thick haze, and then things begin to blow open more fully. Voices floats together and mix in your headspace, the playing continues to double and pound away psychologically, and then calm is achieved again, slowly melting as the waters drip into roaring streams. “Three Winds” arrives more aggressively, guitars jab into your ribs, and the riffs cascade dangerously, eventually growing calmer as chirps infuse nature into the playing. Gazey power explodes as the playing heavily gushes, and layers get applied liberally, swirling and melting away.

“Seeds” starts with an ominous bassline lurking and the riffs opening, eating away at your mind. The playing crushes as voices echo, and the sense of dreaminess increases, leaving heavy hypnotics there to do their trick and enrapture as the ending rouses and smokes. “Fleurs of Decay” starts by making your head feel light as the melodies repeat, bringing serenity and warmth. The singing swells as everything increases in pressure, and the bubbling soaks into your blood. The playing rumbles as the main melody line returns, the power stays immersive, and the elements fade and return with closer “Forêt,” featuring BAZE on vocals. Drums echo as the tempo plods, and the ambiance thickens and makes the air stickier. Voices blend, speaking gives off a dissociative vibe, and the condensation gets heavier, pounding and turning to liquid. The playing starts to slow in its motion, your blood pressure levels, and the final drops are devoured by earth.

“Vexier” is a record that both gives us a better understanding of the strength E-L-R hold in their songwriting and expression, and it also acts as a special document that you go to when you need to challenge your mind and senses. It’s heavy, yes, but it’s just as delicate and vulnerable, with an energy you can feel throbbing beneath every part. This is a record and band that capture something that feels like electricity generated at a specific moment in time and given a chance to live forever.

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