The new opus of Elder’s space odyssey.
The now classic Stoner Prog band Elder released on April 24th their new album entitled Omens. The fifth episode of a musical odyssey in constant evolution. For the good of music… and your ears.
How is the sound ?
Last December, well known fanzine The Obelisk published his Top 20 albums of the past decade. Lore by Boston band Elder arrived first. This distinction, among others, speaks volumes about the importance of the American trio over the whole fuzzy scene. Their technical mastery and musical forward-thinking turned them into one of the most – perhaps the most – influent stoner band of last years. A musical genius that seduced a lot of classic stoner fans like me, taking us to more complex approach of the genre. Because this is what these guys did : to renew and expand the limits of the stoner rock territory, and dare I say, the metal scene as a whole.
For all these reasons, a new release by Elder constitutes an event in itself. It comes with great expectations. With these questions in our head : can they do better that what they offer us in their three last releases ? Can they push even further their musical odyssey ? Well, the truth is that I cannot say if they can do better than Lore, or Reflections of a Floating World. But what is certain, is that Omens marks a new step in Elder musical exploration. They did not try to do the same as they did in both albums I mentioned just above. They produced something else, taking inspiration from their own musical background and new musical ideas.
Considering this coherent evolution, Omens follows the path opened with 2019’s EP The Gold and Silver. Elder seems less focused on their original progressive stoner metal sound, as the band chose to head to a more psychedelic jamming rock approach of their music. Fuzz is still there, but softer. The progressive logic too, but less heavy. This evolution also materializes on the band’s composition itself. The trio turned definitely into a quatuor in Omens, integrating Michael Risberg (guitar and keyboard), symbolizing the new importance Elder gives to keys in his music. Drummer changed too: Georg Edert replaces founder member Matt Couto.
This new musical approach can be heard from the first notes of opening track “Omens” with this play on keyboards that reminds us much more their last EP than their previous long productions. Then a crushing riff comes, but the sound is less dirty than it used to be. The whole music seems to be less rooted in stoner rock influences. Another change concerns Nick DiSalvo’s singing, softer than in the previous opuses. Frankly, I do not approve this evolution. I still prefer the way he sings in Lore or Reflections of a Floating World.
Once we have said that, we are forced to recognize that Elder has not lost its gift in shaping great soundscapes. Second track “In Procession” begins and finishes with quite heavy and aggressive riffs that remind us their last LPs. The middle section of the track is based on the ingredients that marks their musical evolution : clean and hardly-fuzzy aerial melodies coupled with modulations effects and synth layers.
Following track “Halcyon” is more instrumental. This one represents the best of The Gold and Silver EP’s legacy. Elder capacity to paint complexe and visual soundscapes in front of the listener’s eyes displays all its power. The progression is precise and the tension perfectly managed between ethereal and shiny melodies and more epic passages. Far from being troubled with this psychedelic jam approach, Elder handles it with brio. It finishes with a huge outro that shows that Elder did not forget its old good stoner recipe. And that Omens is a conscious and coherent detour, far from being a wrong step.
Speaking about Elder “traditional” productions, fourth track “Embers” remind us, in his first half, the aggressiveness and more riff-oriented inclination of Reflections of a Floating World. Then the music drops into a more contemplative and evocative section. A calmer part that prepares the ground for a quite incredible instrumental progression, with an irresistible increasing tension. This may be the passage of the whole album Elder succeeded the best in mixing their musical background with their new influences. Last track “One Light Retreating” concludes the album in an epic mood. Crushing riffs and sharp solos make the power of the final.
At the end, I am not sure Omens conveys the same intensity as Lore and Reflections of a Floating World. It might not be my favorite album from them, but still I enjoyed the trip very much. Because this trip is solid and new. Elder always manages to explore new musical horizons with mastery and efficiency. And this approach of music they have, and develop albums after albums, is priceless.
Why is this album worth listening to?
- Because Elder always offers something new to listen.
- Because very few bands know how to shape such evocative soundscapes as Elder does.
- Because managing to keep producing high quality and forward thinking music after almost 15 years of activity and 4 studio albums is impressive.
In what situation you should listen to this album?
Perfect album to travel without moving from your sofa in those times of quarantine.
Something particular to note?
Michael Risberg (guitar/keyboard) was invited to play on Reflections on a Floating World. Today, he is part of the band as a full-time member.
For Fans Of
Tool - Pallbearer - Causa Sui - Grotto
If you don't know what those "Levels" mean, please visit this page.