(Reverend B., a metal musician from Siberian Russia, introduces our premiere of the new Solitude Productions album by his compatriots in Evoke Thy Lords, whose previous works we’ve also enthusiastically covered at this site)
Evoke Thy Lords are a name, as one would say, widely recognized in narrow circles. They are one of the oldest doom bands in Siberia, and they started off as followers of the doom/death wave that was still strong in Russia in those days, but with a twist — they used a flute very prominently in the music. Since those days, one could argue only that flute remained, as they had a very drastic change of sound they’ve been following for several releases now — stoner doom with a focus on the psychedelic aspects of the genre. First Drunken Tales, then Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!, and today, the plainly-named Lifestories reaches us.
This album is a solid development on their previous releases. Consciously or not, Evoke Thy Lords have not even strayed away from many of the established aesthetical conventions of their genre so much as remained agnostic to them. Yes, they quite often use elements expected of the genre, but never do they completely rely on them; it’s their means, never their purpose.
On this record, more than on any of their previous efforts, a curious effect manifests — they reach their sound by tapping into values shared with blues and psychedelia, akin to stoner rock, while still keeping the bite and edge of stoner doom. The song “Life is a Trick” is an especially good example of this — the stoner doom template is only background to the crooning clean vocals, at times reminiscent of Witch Mountain, and the flute kicking in at the absolutely right moments — a solo here, a couple underscoring notes there, just beautiful.
Overall, the album does a great job at keeping your attention at the right level. It is atmospheric and spaced out enough to make your mind wander, but every so often your attention gets snapped back to the music itself by an interesting twist. It’s like those couple of minutes right after the first bong hit, when the effect slowly but surely starts creeping on you, when you’re already a bit stoned, but your body and mind struggle to admit it.
Over the years, quite a few reviewers and listeners have tried to “figure out” Evoke Thy Lords, find their gimmick, so to speak. Mushrooms, sci-fi, space — a lot of conjectures were thrown around. I approached this album with some such preconceptions of their craft, and it has dispelled my assumptions. Dare I say, it finally allowed me to figure them out. Evoke Thy Lords‘ gimmick is… they have no gimmick! Comes across as a bit banal, but hear me out.
In this day and age, there’s so much music to listen to, that many bands have to constantly think of a way to catch the interest of the listener aside from the music to stand out. Well, Evoke Thy Lords have no catch — along with the very obvious psychedelic influence, they are a refreshing throwback to the good old days when bands relied mostly on their music speaking for them. Lifestories foregoes having any concept other than the unifying sound and flow, which reminds you how music was never supposed to be a sophisticated intellectual matter — it’s all about the groove, the emotions it makes you feel.
This album is a great first listen for genre neophytes and for crusty old stoners looking for an appropriate palette cleanser as a break from the usual routine of Satan, bongs, and witches — as long as you turn off your mind and allow the proggy flute, the bluesy vocals, and the oh-so-groovy riffing to take you on a wild ride to the realm of sonic bliss.
Evoke Thy Lords: