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Elden - Nostromo Award winner

by Rachel Montgomery at 28 January 2020, 1:30 PM

ELDEN is a band forged from classic influences like MASTADON and BARONESS, bringing melodic riffs and heavy sounds to their work. Like other bands before them, they carry on a traditional of sword-and-sorcery music, combining traditional, symphonic, and progressive elements to create pleasant surprises for listeners.

“Relapse” is an intro building ambiance. Over time, a soft, acoustic melody reveals itself, utilizing different inversions to capture the listener’s interest. The riff builds in intensity, culminating in the second track, “Sail & Savour”. The riff morphs from a soft, acoustic melody into a gritty, jarring one. When the vocals come on, thought, they contrast it with a smooth, clear tenor. It’s pleasantly surprising. The hard, steady beat with a crashing snare sounds like waves and juxtaposed with the singer’s operatic, non-stylized vocals is an unexpected treat.

The album is full of nice contrasts like this, particularly the soft, acoustic-sounding melodies against harsher, tuned-down heavy guitars. These are more apparent in the opening and closing track, and the long ballad “Heavy Rain”. The heavy snare sounds like rain and the tuned-down guitars make it one of the most engaging songs despite its length. Like the intro, it begins with beautiful, arpeggio chords, but then becomes elegantly intense through its run. The guitar notes in the solo are nothing short of poetic and the harmonies employed through the song keep it going through its run.

Title track “Nostromo” demonstrates this contrast the most, starting out with a soft melody and following it with this surprising bombast with subtle key changes and twists and turns, not letting you guess where they’re going to take the song next. When it blasts off with a cacophonic riff, it contrasts it with lower vocals and a slower singing melody. The intensity and contrast of the song makes it an engaging listen. Even in shorter songs, ambiance can be found. In “Anubis”, the song wastes no time getting heavy with squealing guitars in a short, packed intro. The staccato in the guitar solo almost sounds narrative, or conversational. However, I’m not sure about the technique they use where the vocals are pushed back. It can give the track a vintage sound, but in other songs, it can sound muddied, like in “Fossilized”. There’s a vintage feel with the singer more back and echoing, but it makes the song sound not as polished as the rest of the album.

The album closes with a prelude called “The Passage”; composed of ambiance that makes the listener feel like they’re going through an enclosed tunnel. Accompanied by soft, fast guitars create an urge to escape. However, it’s upended by the beginning of the closing track, “Two Faced Wizard”, with heavy, hard-hitting chords. The echoing vocals create a chanting effect, but like with “Fossilized” earlier, it can be a little far back. The main riff can also become a little tiring and I wish they employed the melody change earlier.

Overall, the album carries a vintage sword-and-sorcery feel with pleasant surprises and great musicianship. If you’re into traditional Heavy Metal with progressive elements, this one is for you.

Songwriting: 9
Production: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Relapse
2. Sail & Savour
3. Anubis
4. Fossilized
5. Heavy Rain
6. Nostromo
7. Creature Follows
8. The Passage
9. Two-Faced Wizard
Kalle Persson - Guitars
Claes Josefsson - Drums
Torsten Gabrielsson - Guitars
Alexander Huss - Vocals, Bass
Record Label: Fuzzorama Records


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