London rockers Elbrano purport to shake up the existing rock and metal formula by juxtaposing elements of much heavier music with traditional hard rock and blues-rock on their debut, ‘Agora’. This sounds gimmicky, but is actually implemented fairly subtly and remains a solid foundation despite the album’s many flaws.
It’s a fairly original idea. The combining of heavy and not-so heavy musical approaches isn’t new, but rather than go for a straight-up death ‘n’ roll approach, Elbrano attempt to combine the slower and sludgier elements of death metal with simple rock songs. However, the potential of this interesting prospect is never fully reached and it’s hard to shake the overall radio metal vibe given off by ‘Agora’.
The album starts with ‘Euphoria Warrior’, which is an example of the type of classic rock revival that wasn’t interesting when The Answer were doing it ten years ago. Its follow-up, ‘Crisis’, brings in a heavier riff, but is still trapped within the same radio-friendly hard rock trap Elbrano have found themselves in.
There’s parts of ‘Agora’, like the end of ‘On Standby’ or the instrumental track ‘Animals’, where Elbrano play to their strengths and combine heavy textural elements with straightforward songwriting, but this just isn’t present enough throughout the album’s run-time.
It doesn’t help that the album ends with two unimaginative ballads, the title track and ‘Lady by the Fire’. Though the latter – the closing track – incorporates some potentially interesting elements of progressive rock, these are implemented too messily to save the track, or, indeed, the album.
Elbrano try quite a few things on ‘Agora’, and none of them quite work. They deserve praise for their experimentation, and the heavy textures crossed with radio-friendly songwriting could turn into more than a gimmick in the future. For now though, their debut remains a thoroughly uninspiring listen.
‘Agora’ by Elbrano is released on 24th February on Slipway Records.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)