If you’ve ever wondered what bands like Pink Floyd or Hawkwind would have sounded like if they’d formed in the 21st century in Massachusetts, Elder is my number one theory. The quartet skillfully blends stoner rock with progressive rock tendencies to create an hypnotic music that twists and turns, sounding familiar while eluding any single categorization. I’ve been playing it daily for the last two weeks and every time I think I’ve had it figured out, I seem to hear it from a different perspective and it shifts my perception of their music. There’s an almost cinematic feel to the album that’s just delightful.
Their fifth album ‘Omens’ contains 5 tracks but lasts close to an hour. The shortest track clocks in at 9:21, so don’t count on finding radio-friendly songs, but they’re not stretching out things needlessly either. It’s a not a hook driven album, but it’s melodic and spacious. The progressive elements are probably the defining feature of the record. but the stoner riffs are a treat whenever they show up too. Rolling Stone considers them metal enough to have named their album ‘Reflections of a Floating World ‘ #5 on their ‘20 Best Metal Albums Of 2017‘ list, but I feel that label does them a disservice. Sure, there’s plenty of heavy guitars, but the amount of textures in their music goes beyond most artists in the genre. But if you’re looking for a less heavy and melodic version of Mastodon or Opeth, Elder might be for you.
If I have to bring up one negative, I’d say that the vocals are somewhat underwhelming. There’s nothing wrong per se with them, but they’re just… there. But the musicianship is spot on from start to finish. This album was my introduction to Elder, but diving through their back catalog on Spotify, ‘Omens’ feels like a natural progression from what came before, so I guess I have some homework to do. I’d highly recommend it to prog, metal, rock or stoner fans.
Nicholas DiSalvo – Guitars, vocals, keyboards
Jack Donvan – Bass
Michael Risberg – Guitars, keyboards
Georg Edert – Drums
Fabio Cuomo – (guest) keyboards
Recorded by Peter Deimel and Etienne Clauzel at Studio Black Box, Noyant-La-Gravoyère, France
Produced by Peter Deimel
Mixed by Peter Deimel and Nicholas DiSalvo
Mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering, Chicago, IL
Artwork by Adrian Dexter