When a number of unrelated people recommend the same underground band in conversation the chances are that band won’t stay underground for very long. Several folk have mentioned the Wigan four-piece ‘Element’ in my presence over the past few weeks so when a copy of their brand new album ‘WTF Happened To Journalism’ landed on my doorstep I felt obliged to see what all the fuss was about.
‘WTF Happened To Journalism’ is Element’s third album and opens with ‘Whiskey Voodoo’ a rifftastic hard rocker that reminds me of mid-era Faith No More with a hint of Therapy? It’s the harder side of 90’s alternative rock brought right up to date. The (mostly) instrumental second track ‘Zombie’ starts mellow enough with jangly guitar soundscapes before breaking in with a doom-laden Deftones style riff. It’s a thick, dark and insidious grind that chokes your senses like a malevolent fog.
‘Kings Of Martyrdom’ doesn’t let up the gloom with another dense sonic blast of grinding guitars and plodding drums. There’s some light relief in the form of ‘Abbey Lakes’, an almost, dare I say Indie sounding track that combines jangly guitars dripping in delay with a grungy vocal delivery. The melody is ambiguous yet virulent enough to carry the song into my subconscious so that I find myself humming it several hours later.
Title track ‘WTF Happened To Journalism’, like the entire album is more at the grungy side of NWOBHM. ‘Something Down’ could be a gregorian monks chant, if only they had the use of ketamine back then while ‘Wasteland Stomp’ almost falls into the sludgy depths of Doom Metal but bizarrely redeems itself in a beautifully light music intersection.
‘December Son’ made my ears itch as though I’d heard this before somewhere before, maybe in a dream or daytime trance. It’s both difficult yet incredibly easy to listen to at the same time. The album concludes with a fantastically matt-black version of The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ that has to be heard to be believed.
In ‘WTF Happened To Journalism’, Element have produced an album that stands them proudly above many of their contemporaries. The instrumentation may not be as inspired as the likes of Tool and the songs not as commercially viable as Alice In Chains but the depth of clarity in the overall vision of the album shines through. If you just want to escape from your shitty life for a while then this is an album to get monged out too!
WTF Happened To Journalism
01 Whiskey Voodoo
03 Kings Of Martyrdom
04 Abbey Lakes
05 WTF Happened To Journalism
06 Something Down
07 Wasteland Stomp
08 December Son
09 She Sells Sanctuary
Adam Calderbank – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar
Alex Burnell – Bass
Andy ‘chow’ Higham – Lead Guitar
Rob Urquhart – Drums