CD Review: Emperors and Elephants - "Devil in the Lake" (Pavement Entertainment)

It takes just one track, opener “Bring It Down,” off of Emperors and Elephants debut Devil in the Lake, to see this band’s unabashed promise. The Chicago hard rock merchants come out of the blocks swinging, and it’s clear this band possesses some talented axemen, including their newest member, ex-Texas Hippie Coalition guitarist Randy “The Arsonist” Cooper, which is not to slight fellow slinger Jeph Stiph.  
There’s a lot of influence to be found here – Purple­-era Stone Temple Pilots, Shinedown, Tantric, Full Devil Jacket, the list could go on and on. Devil in the Lake is an amalgam of said influences, a true rock record that follows the tried and true blueprint of balancing healthy doses of towering, swirling guitars unafraid to break out into a well time solo (“Man of God,” “Locust,” “Who Are You”) with endearing ballads that break things up a bit (“Your Will,” “Hit Of Red,” “You And I”). The combination of the brilliant one-two punch of “Man of God” and “Locust” is the best you’ll hear from a rock band anytime soon. The inclusion of a cover of Chris Issac’s “Wicked Game” is a curious choice, though their take on the sultry classic is more than admirable. And to be honest, there’s nothing wrong with covers. Vocalist Jesse Andrews is a lynchpin; his vocals equally powerful and passionate, and it seems like everything he is saying matters in some respect. It’s clear Emperors and Elephants have the chops to hang in today’s crowded rock game, and it all goes back to promise, and if Devil in the Lake is nothing else, it’s damn sure promising.    

Grade: B-
Go Download: “Locust”