Elliott's Keep
Sine Qua Non

Ever hear an album that strangely rides the line between “dude, this is awesome” and “dude, these guys played at Honky Tonk Hank’s again last weekend and a drunk fat chick barfed all over the bass player”?  Well, unfortunately, Elliott’s Keep‘s Sine Qua Non (which apparently translates to “without this, nothing”) appears to fall into this category, and it’s quite a shame.  Running somewhere between doom and death metal, yet definitely more (pardon the pun) top heavy on the doom side, Sine Qua Non fails to capture this reviewer’s interest for a few reasons, but mainly because it lacks in originality and dynamics.  Read on if you’re so inclined.

While the elements necessary to create a cohesive, memorable album are all found somewhere in Sine Qua Non, I’m left with a stale taste in my mouth after repeat listens.  For one, the riffs played within are rather low and slow, yet bland.  The drumming is mostly simplistic and stands out against the aforementioned guitar work, though not in a complementary way.  And while the warm and rich clean vocals are a high point here, the gruff vocals simply sound awkward.

It’s almost as if Elliott’s Keep are working too hard to create a doomy vibe, when music of this nature and quality can’t be forced or fabricated — it must simply flow.  Sine Qua Non does not.  And sad to say it, the album lacks proper heaviness.  It’s more of an imitation than a genuine creation of doom, as is evident upon listening to opening track “Fearless.”  “Shades of Disgrace” has the potential to be a great tune…if only it weren’t for the lyrics, and if the vocal delivery was stronger.  And tracks like “Maleficar Validus” and “Fate” just don’t have the bite that they should.

As previously mentioned in this review, the elements are there, but they’re not quite aligned properly.  To be fair, though, “Damned” is pretty damned good, and there are some cool moments scattered throughout Sine Qua Non.  Overall, though, it feels as though the album is lacking in a few areas.  This is only Elliott’s Keep‘s sophomore album, so perhaps they should be cut some slack.  After all, they’re a part of the Texas doom syndicate, and only good can come from that.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jodi Van Walleghem
February 7th, 2011

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