Elephant Gun – Now to Survive (Album Review)


If you were around the music scene at end of the ’90s then you would have heard of Elephant Gun as they reached the height of their career. Playing along the lines of other great bands of the time at the Falls Festival and Big Day Out their album ‘Albino’ came out with high praise buoyed by the single ‘Cataract’ but then we haven’t seen newly published music from them for 20 years. 

While gone they weren’t absent playing the odd gig here and there, and getting together to do things when they felt up to it. 

Now…they are back with another album ‘”Now to survive” released on Dinner For Wolves record label. They maintain the energy and momentum as if the last album was brought out a year ago. In their absenteeism, the band says they managed to write and demo enough material for two albums with the best songs featuring on the new album.

Consisting of four guys who are bandmates and friends they have kept the integrity of the band together balancing work, family, and music. This focus on taking things in their stride and not letting anything overwhelm them has been integral in keeping themselves together and leading them to release another album. The band consists of Todd Angus (Vocals, Guitar), Mick Barrett (Guitar), Sean Dennis (Bass), Sean Dennis (Bass), and Simon Murphy (Drums).  

With the help of Ted Lothburg their music was mastered and compiled from three different sessions into a coherent form that suited the album. All the instruments have the opportunity to be heard. Seans says “We have tried to simplify things over time. Our earlier stuff was harder and more technical. But we have tried to play more for the song than ourselves these days.” The opening track ‘”Kill Street Blues” sets the trend with bursting guitar that swells and shimmer with the drums tinkering the cymbals and second guitar circling like glorious rings of Saturn before launching into a guitar solo. The song that then follows might perhaps have lyrical content that reflects a serious subject matter it still becomes a charismatic and uplifting foot-stomping rock song. Throughout the album is a lot of variation in style and rhythm so the album can be played multiple times.

With the guitars tuned down a half step on the album, it provides an extra element of gravity added to give the songs more sonic depth. When the distortion kicks in the guitars drive forward with the beauty of a gathering thunderstorm and when combined with Todd’s vocals being as bright and enigmatic as lightning you have a sight that is awe-inspiring. “Devil on the Dawn” provides a great example of this. The lyrics patterns throughout the album are ever-changing rising and falling in ways that make it its own instrument rather than just filling in with the music. It provides another level of complexity to it especially as his vocal range is quite diverse from spiritual ‘oohs’ on “Titanic” to rock vocal heights on “Handspan”. 

On the album, all the instruments work synergistically without one taking the centre stage over the other. The bass carries the groove a good few times flanked by the drums and vocals. “In hell” we have an example of how the drums play a melodic drum pattern while all the instruments pipe up here and there like dolphins surfing through waves as they play and then scatter. 

Having avoided the use of elephant imagery in previous albums linking the obvious name to image the time came for them to do so. While the art cover might seem simple the story behind it is interesting. When asked about it the bands say “we decided it was the perfect time to embrace it with the worlds current climate and elephants being on the brink of extinction.” An animal with immense power yet being so vulnerable it creates a double entendre thus highlighting their volatile and precious existence. Their mate, Doug, photographed an elephant statue of Sean’s mother’s elephant statues collection she is gathering, “did some fancy graphic work on it and Shazam” you have the artwork you see. The link between elephants, guns, and the band is not linked to elephants at all. When deciding on a band name the original one they had wasn’t liked by the record company so as a replacement they came up with the title of a David Lee Roth song off the ‘”Eat ’em and smile” album. 

Choice songs off the album include ‘Devil on the Dawn’ and ‘Caesar’ with some edgy intro guitar riffs followed on by groovy bass lines and drums and an overall grungy song vibe. The opening song ‘Kill Street Blues’ will draw you in immediately and satiate your need for alternative rock. ‘She’ slows things down a bit as they pull out the acoustic style of music and show a sensitive side to the album. Then tuck into “Handspan” for some epic vocals with some funky old school rock backing vocals.

This is a band that for a long time we could only focus on what they were but now they are becoming something that we can focus on what they will become. “We def approach a wall of sound mentality. It’s big and loud always.” Hopefully, this trend will continue, they will survive, and we will see more from the band. By taking their friendship with one another and their instruments, and approaching a song from all angles they are sure to bring about arma de caza mayor-style music that is sure to please them and make us want to get our hands on their music as soon as it’s released.

  1. Kill Street Blues
  2. Devil on the Dawn
  3. Now to Survive
  4. Mexicana
  5. Surrounded
  6. Caesar
  7. She
  8. In the Light
  9. Handspan
  10. In Hell
  11. Titanic

Release Year: 2020
Label: self-released
Category: Album
Country: Australia

Reviewed by Byron Lotz

Elephant Gun: Facebook