I’m unsure as to why Deep Elm has remained so small. Sure, it’s an indie, so it keeps things, well, independent, but some of the music it’s releasing has the potential to invigorate the modern alternative scene. A Deep Elm CD is more or less guaranteed to be intelligent, masterfully sculpted, and musically thought-provoking. Lewis, I’m happy to say, are no exception to the Deep Elm rule.
Lyrics like “men of blood, we are the fruit of lust, filled with sin, death and despair,” (from the album’s opener, “The Cruelest Month”) may scream heavy metal, but their (admittedly self-indulgent) intensity is married with alternately poignant and driving musical phrases that conjure images of Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley (both of whom Brett Tohlen, Lewis’s vocalist, sounds frighteningly similar to at times). Epic instrumental passages in cuts like “Returning to the Scene of the Crime,” and a crisp, tight rhythm section add to the record’s impressive aura of professionalism — the album feels polished, but not glossed into oblivion.
Something feels a little lost here, and the fact that this is a “second album” and that the band members are geographically separated from each other probably contributes somewhat. There are ideas and scope on Even So that look like they could evolve into some really special music. Lewis just need to get under their own skin and find it.