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Elephant9 - Greatest Show On Earth album review

Scorching set evokes prog’s keyboard legends

Elephant9 - Greatest Show On Earth album artwork

Never judge a book by its cover, nor an album by its opening track. With its slippery bass, stilted beats and what sounds like an inebriated Mellotron slurring through a sing-song after a grand night out, the almost comedic Way Of Return provides no clue as to what lies ahead. While their last two releases were augmented by Swedish guitarist and sometime Motorpsycho and Dungen collaborator Reine Fiske, here keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, bassist Nikolai Hængsle and drummer Torstein Lofthus go back to power trio basics. Exploding into a thunderous, urgent groove and sprayed with fiery organ, the fifth studio album by this virtuosic Norwegian outfit is bursting with a riotous intensity. Summoned through a sequence of gloriously Hammond-heavy invocations, the spirits of Egg-era Dave Stewart, Keith Emerson and Lifetime’s Larry Young are made manifest amid a hurtling, energetic sequence of original compositions. Soulful, smart and packed with thrilling keyboard excursions, this is a love letter to the finest keyboard-orientated outfits in progressive music. Forget thoughts of pastiche or nostalgic knock-off – this is their most powerful release to date.