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Elder - Omens Award winner

by Dave Nowels at 08 April 2020, 4:39 PM

While on tour in Europe in 2019 ELDER dropped the EP “The Gold and Silver Sessions” rather unexpectedly. Essentially a collection of ideas crafted while on the road, the EP delved into softer, more ambient experimentations that were a stark contrast to the band's humble riff-heavy Sludgy SLEEP inspired beginnings. Undoubtedly, some longtime fans may have felt alienated or even abandoned, while others, such as myself, saw it as the next step forward for a band not content to remain stagnant. So here we are in 2020, and ELDER are now poised to release “Omens” on April 24th via Stickman Records. Which ELDER is it going to be? The exploratory Heavy Psych of 2017's “Reflections Of A Floating World” or the nuanced unpredictability of the aforementioned EP? Why can't it be both?

I'd argue that it can be both, and in actuality, it really is the best of both worlds. The distinctive sound is definitely present with the dense structure and soundscape of the song compositions, but also juxtaposed by the lushness created by the expanded focus on keyboards and a more exotically sparse atmospheric approach. Melded together, it's intricate and bold. It's creative and fulfilling, stylistic and unpredictable. The opening track, is the title track, “Omens”. Keyboards intro the song in an almost PINK FLOYD “Echoes” like manner, which then takes a side role to the structured layers of spacey jams and crunchy riffs. The band slows things down for a more intensive exploration mid-song before everything frantically escalates in a robust conclusion.

Over the course of “Omens'” 5 songs, 56 minutes, the band expounds that theme often, repeats the theme opportunistically, and even reverses and re-configures (“Embers”) it unexpectedly. DeSalvo's vocals take on a bit more urgency than I recall on “Reflections Of A Floating World”, which unsurprisingly, still manages to just fit perfectly in place. Indeed, like a complex puzzle of some kind, each band member's contributions highlight and build upon the other's efforts. As is the specialty of Psych bands of all types, song length reaches epic status often here. In fact, the shortest song (“In Procession”) still manages an impressive almost 10 minutes in length. I loved the boundless creativeness and endless energy that resides in each cut. As a band, ELDER still seem excited to be equally crafting and creating together, and it shows in the complex structure yet deceptive simplicity of songs like (“Halycon”). Each track was a highlight, but if you're looking for a real cosmic journey here, the closing “One Light Retreating” is the one to dive into. Fairly straight forward in it's origins, the final third of the song dips into realms of space that just must be heard to be comprehended.

ELDER is one of those bands that keeps you guessing release to release. Personally, I love that. I find it refreshing, and challenging to see bands I really like evolve and mature. Still, music fans, and in particular, Heavy music fans can be a frustratingly fickle bunch. I find with “Omens” that ELDER has struck an “everyone wins” mark. The band continues to hone and expand their sound as well as their fanbase, while still retaining enough of their distinctiveness and grounding to appeal to their longtime fans. That the band can achieve both, while remaining true to the muse that guides them is indicative of a band that has yet to reach their own lofty peak. “Omens” is a sturdy step towards that goal. It's also one that's not only simply outstanding, as well as recommended, but also one that's bound to be memorable and looked back on with admiration as that excursion continues.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10


5 Star Rating

1. Omens
2. In Procession
3. Halcyon
4. Embers
5. One Light Retreating
Nick DiSalvo - Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Michael Risberg – Guitars, Keyboards
Jack Donovan - Bass
George Edert – Drums
Fabio Cuomo – Fender Rhoades and Keyboards
Record Label: Stickman Records


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