Big Elf

Picture of Big Elf

Closer To Doom

Big Elf - Closer To Doom ©1995 Third Hole Records
1. Change
2. Crazy
3. Frustration
4. Salvation
5. In The Void
6. Closer To Doom

The quick "sounds like" for Big Elf would be King's X meets Deep Purple with a splash of Black Sabbath. That description did not originate from me. I read it somewhere else and it intrigued me, largely because the reviewer was going on about Big Elf's use of the Hammond organ in their music. Having grown up on Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, I bought both of Big Elf's releases eager to hear "retro" metal done by a modern band.

Looking at the CD cover with the organs, moogs, mellotrons and guitars so prominently displayed along with a picture of the Beatles from 1968 was a small preparation for the sound I found within. The music is full of heavy riffs and the omnipresent sound of the organ asserting itself with power everywhere. I am not an unbiased audience when it comes to music like this. Atomic Rooster makes me begin to drool and early Uriah Heep can cause me to go into catatonic delight. Therefore this album was not a disappointment to me as it has wonderful vocal harmonies being supported by some really great AOR / old school metal. There is a lot of influence from the Beatles in this music. From the vocal structures to some of the more psychedelic elements, the influence can be heard in several places.

This isn't to say that these songs are cheap imitations of anything. Big Elf have taken a number of influences and managed to come up with a sound that is theirs by blending those influences into a wonderful retro sound. Fans of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, King's X, Atomic Rooster and other heavier sounding old school metal bands are really going to like Big Elf. If I had a complaint about this album it would be that it is over with too quickly. Fortunately, there is another disc and it is even better than this one.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2001

Back to top 

Money Machine

Big Elf - Money Machine ©2000 Third Hole Records
1. Money Machine
2. Sellout
3. Neuropsychopathic Eye
4. Side Effects
5. (Another) Nervous Breakdown
6. Mind Bender
7. Ironheel
8. Death Walks Behind You
9. The Bitter End

While I was reviewing Atomic Rooster's Death Walks Behind You album, I came across an article mentioning Big Elf and the sound comparison I used in the review of Closer to Doom. Any band that covers such a classic track as "Death Walks Behind You" is worth a look, and the description of the sound intrigued me enough to buy both discs.

I am happy to say that this disc picks up where the first leaves off and then leaps forward in many ways. The technical aspect of the music is really pushed forward on this album. The songs have a precision about them that is a thrill to hear. The opening track thunders along taking you for quite a ride. It immediately shows that the band has grown confident in their style, and doesn't mind being typed as a retro outfit.

The song "(Another) Nervous Breakdown" is a magnificent piece. It rockets along with a frightening atmosphere that will send a chill down your spine at its complexity and eerieness. The music on this album is big and powerful. It overflows with all the best elements from the late 1970's psychedelic, progressive hard rock / heavy metal era. It features some of the best vocal harmonies you're going to hear apart from a King's X CD and the best Hammond organ playing you're going to hear anywhere. The keyboard playing on this album is stellar and mixes with the crushing guitar riffs that threaten to pound you into dust with their insistent urging. The cover of "Death Walks Behind You" is awesome. I can't think of another word for it. It jumps off the disc and holds you with its intensity. I don't know when I have enjoyed a CD as much as this one. Big Elf may be stuck in the past, but fans of Pink Floyd, Nektar, Deep Purple and other early progressive bands that shaped this kind of sound are going to be happier for it. This is a stunning disc, start to finish and is most highly recommended.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 08/2001

Back to top