Evoke Thy Lords are one of the more interesting bands playing Stoner/Doom/Death today, carving out a quirky niche all their own with their excellent second album, 2013's 'Drunken Tales'. Now, two years on, it's time again to go through the looking glass, with their intoxicating new opus, superbly titled 'Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!'. With the evening sun's reddening rays sneaking down through the treetops, Evoke Thy Lords are your tour guides on another psychedelic journey through Jethro-Sabbathian lands; head in the acid-tinged clouds, feet on the traditional Doom metal ground.
Not too much changed from the last trip, nor did it need to. Evoke Thy Lords' approach to Doom/Death is amiable, relaxed, and unhurried despite utilizing quicker tempos than some of their brethren. While some characteristics are shared with Stoner Desert Rock bands, Evoke are never ambiguous about living in Metal territory. Mud-caked guitars focus mostly on rhythm, supplying general heaviness without an abundance of melody or overly detailed riffing. Most of the listener attention is on the flute leads or the vocals: sometimes light, wispy and distant, sometimes more traditional death growling. Tracks like 'Betrayer/Lier' (sic) would have been bitingly angry in the hands of a more straightforward Doom/Death band, but this quintet (which, including guest musicians, expands to an octet) backgrounds the hinted rage behind an everpresent blanket of haze.
The strength of 'Boys!...' is the songwriting. These seven tracks all hold distinctive identities, with features to set each one apart from the others, while all share a common Doom/Death foundation. None of the songs are minimalist exercises in riding one or two ideas into the ground; the album's middle tracks in particular boast a wealth of ideas and some truly lively playing from Evoke's rhythm section. 'World Without Me' and 'Sky is Falling' (the latter boasting some tasty cowbell) have a proto-Metal swing to them that should win over fans of Trouble and Pentagram, while 'I Want to Sleep' gives the band's two guitarists a spotlight in which to stretch out a bit more than elsewhere. For some truly headbanging heaviness, see the opening passage of closing song 'Time is a Murderer', which sees the whole band – guitars especially - attacking the material with a fervor that suggests they know the end (of the album) is nigh.
At just over 45 minutes, 'Boys!...' knows when to end affairs without overstaying its welcome, leaving me ready for more. The album certainly doesn't feel like it comes up short; these Siberians have gotten quite a bit done in a playing time of this relatively concise duration. This new album is a thoroughly kick-ass trip, and Evoke Thy Lords should be proud to stake a claim for their name among today's best.