Elder - Omens review




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Reviewer:
8.3
Band: Elder
Album: Omens
Release date: April 2020


01. Omens
02. In Procession
03. Halcyon
04. Embers
05. One Light Retreating


2019 saw Elder release the The Gold & Silver Sessions EP, a detour from their established progressive stoner metal sound into a more psychedelic jam direction. Whilst Omens reintegrates some of the heaviness of their previous full-lengths, the influences that inspired last year's offering continue to shape the band's output.

Omens, Elder's fifth album and first as a four-piece, sees the full-length debut of guitarist Michael Risberg and overall debut of drummer Georg Edert, who replaced founding member Matt Couto after the release of The Gold & Silver Sessions. The decision to include Risberg, a guest on 2017's Reflections Of A Floating World, as a full-time member may have been inspired in part by the increasing prominence of keyboards in the band's sound. The first sounds of the opening title track are two distinct keyboard parts, warping around each other before a crunching riff sees the full band arrive on the scene. Whilst keyboards have found use on the likes of Reflections… and Lore, they feel far more noticeable throughout this record, reflecting the increasingly psychedelic approach of the band.

A surface description of much of the album doesn't indicate a substantial deviation from previous efforts; "lengthy, sprawling songs with languid, fuzzy riffs, hazy vocals and contrasting dynamics" would apply to much of their output from the past decade. However, a comparison of the first vocal section of "Omens" with the title track from Dead Roots Stirring highlights how less typically stoner rock-influenced the guitar work has become, with a far less dirty fuzz to the tone. Additionally, the vocal approach is gentler on Omens. I must confess, if there is one aspect to Omens that doesn't thrill me, it is Nick DiSalvo's vocals. Having stated in my review of last year's EP my eagerness to have vocals return to the band's sound, I've found myself mildly thrown off at times listening to Omens by the vocal melodies DiSalvo has chosen on certain songs. Additionally, whilst the roughness of his voice worked nicely with the more rambunctious approach of Dead Roots Stirring and Lore, the markedly cleaner nature of much of Omens highlights certain limitations in his singing that begin to detract from the band's sound, particularly given its increased prominence in the mix. These are more often than not minor quibbles; however, they feel glaring when compared with how reliably excellent I've found Elder's output to be in the past.

Once this first vocal section of the title track ends, the band transition into a calm, lush instrumental section that is clearly cut from the same cloth as "Im Morgengrauen" from The Gold & Silver Sessions, and it is in these moments that the current incarnation of Elder really shines. The ebb and flow of the band's energy through the instrumental stretches of Omens, and interplay between guitars and keyboards, enable the group to conjure up some serene soundscapes, whilst also breaking out into more uptempo bouts of stoner rock, such as in the latter minutes of "Omens". Track two, "In Procession", features a delightful guitar solo that kicks in just before the halfway mark that is accompanied by some rousing heavy rock that would fit nicely alongside the material on Reflections Of A Floating World, before transitioning into a wonderfully pleasant soft driving jam (on the flipside, a stretch towards the end of this track is arguably the most egregious example of my aforementioned issues with the vocals on Omens).

Album centrepiece "Halcyon" is the most exemplary display of the outstanding jamlike compositional ability of the group, a predominantly instrumental track opening with serene clean guitar work for several minutes before subsequently morphing into a glorious mid-tempo riff decorated by subtle but effective keyboard. The subsequent meandering of the second half of the song takes the listener into heavier (yet equally satisfying) territory, culminating in a heavy drum buildup into a final huge outro riff. Whilst the remainder of the record can't quite match the consistent excellence of this song, there's plenty more gems before all is said and done, particularly the compelling layering and progression of the instrumental second half of "Embers".

When all is said and done, I don't think the sound on Omens is as consistently enthralling as Elder's work on Lore and Reflections Of A Floating World, and the issues I have with some of the vocals do slightly hold me back from fully embracing the record. However, it is still replete with the outstanding instrumental work the band have demonstrated themselves so capable of throughout their recent history, and makes for a successful first outing for the latest incarnation of the group.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8


 



Written on 08.03.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 6   Visited by: 112 users
08.03.2020 - 11:48
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Can't wait for this one.

Ok, well I actually can and will wait, but I'm looking forward to hearing it.
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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08.03.2020 - 14:51
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 08.03.2020 at 11:48

Can't wait for this one.

Ok, well I actually can and will wait, but I'm looking forward to hearing it.


If you like the new song they've got out from it, you'll like the whole thing. And I'm sure you'll find 50 new albums to keep you busy in the meantime
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09.03.2020 - 11:59
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
I do enjoy this band, but in the past I always felt as though their sound was a bit too Mastodon-ish for my liking. I haven't listened to any of their material since Lore though, so it's interesting to see you note that their recent output has embraced more of a "jammy psychedelic" sound. That definitely makes me more interested.
----
Here at the edge of this world, here I gaze at
A pantheon of oak, a citadel of stone
If this grand panorama before me is what you call God
Then God is not dead
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09.03.2020 - 12:52
musclassia
Written by Apothecary on 09.03.2020 at 11:59

I do enjoy this band, but in the past I always felt as though their sound was a bit too Mastodon-ish for my liking. I haven't listened to any of their material since Lore though, so it's interesting to see you note that their recent output has embraced more of a "jammy psychedelic" sound. That definitely makes me more interested.


I think we had a similar exchange on my review of their EP last year - I always thought the Mastodon similarities were pretty minor (although I haven't heard their debut to know if they're more prominent there), but I feel like they have mostly disappeared since Reflections Of A Floating World; certainly, they never came to mind at any point listening to this album
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09.03.2020 - 13:46
Apothecary
PsyCHEdelic
Written by musclassia on 09.03.2020 at 12:52

I always thought the Mastodon similarities were pretty minor (although I haven't heard their debut to know if they're more prominent there), but I feel like they have mostly disappeared since Reflections Of A Floating World; certainly, they never came to mind at any point listening to this album

That's good to know, I'll make a note to get on this when it's released then.
----
Here at the edge of this world, here I gaze at
A pantheon of oak, a citadel of stone
If this grand panorama before me is what you call God
Then God is not dead
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14.03.2020 - 17:04
tea[m]ster
Au Pays Natal
Band has grown on me. Can't wait. Excellent review and thanks.
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rekt
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