Sometimes I get pissed off at having to review yet another cookie cutter, cookie monster vocal dominated download, and I seriously consider ditching this reviewing lark; this is definitely not one of those times folks. Evoke Thy Lords are one of those bands that just make this writing gig so worthwhile. Firstly, you’d need a heart of flint and the soul of Michael Gove not to get a smile from an album entitled ‘Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!’ Add to that the fact that I’m in the position of listening to another CD by a Siberian band, and was able to read their foreign language website with a few clicks on the internet shows that I live in an area of privilege and age of wonder. Even without popping the CD into the player, Evoke Thy Lords are already winning review points. To anyone alive before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Siberia was a mythical place where Soviet dissidents were disappeared to, not the home to a metal band!
‘Damn These Deserts’ starts with a laid back sound that suits the title perfectly, slide guitar evoking images of stretches of sun bleached sand dunes, the riffs becoming intertwined with psychedelic ethereal flute playing for the duration of the seven minute plus instrumental album opener. ‘Betrayer/Lier’ follows in truly trippy fashion, a combination of hippy tabla thumping and sonorous Tibetan throat singing (it’s a real and amazing thing folks, look it up for a taste of Doom in its earliest form), before the song travels off into space with hypnotic looping sounds, driven forward by loose relaxed drums, eerie flutes, and angelic female chants that become yet another instrument in the band’s psyche rock arsenal of magic. Nothing is rushed or hectic in the track, but at the same time, massively compelling, the growled male vocals that break through the wall of sleep halfway through the song adding a dark doom laden counterpoint to the rest of the song.
‘World Without Me’ is the album’s first foray into the almost conventional, if your idea of conventional is a thudding groove laden slab of doom guaranteed to have the stiffest of necks nodding to the beat, the almost traditional sound being enhanced by the guitar solo being replaced by yet more skilfully executed flute work, playing that easily matches the sound of Peter Gabriel during the early prog days of Genesis, not that those two acts have much more than that in common beyond accomplished musicianship and a willingness to record extended tracks that allow each instrument to develop their own sound. With ‘I Want To Sleep’ the band explore an extended stoner jam before the deathly male vocals bring the doom, themselves being replaced by the dulcet tones of Irena Drebushchak, a woman whose voice could easily front a band like Blood Ceremony, but in Evoke Thy Lords becomes just another part of their eclectic musical gestalt.
As a follow up to their 2013 album ‘Drunken Tales’ Evoke Thy Lords have not simply rested on their laurels, rather they have continued to grow, and the inclusion of clean female vocals does nothing but enhance their sound. The logistics of touring make it unlikely that this is a band I’m ever likely to see play live, but who knows; if enough of you are intrigued by this review and enough of us go on to buy the album, maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Siberia could come to the West?