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Super-Enjoyable Stoner Rock - 90%

ImpureSoul, December 26th, 2012

I’ve been a metalhead for almost half of my life and I’ve never heard an album actually start up with the sound of a guitar being plugged in. There’s a brief silence following, and then you’re hit with awesome bass n’ guitar muddiness, distortion done at a production sweet enough to make a grown man cry. Though lacking the earth-shattering density of other stoner bands like Earth and early Cathedral, the tooth-and-nail bite to the guitar tone is still there, perfectly complemented by the bluesy, nostalgic metal riffing that takes the listener on a wicked trip over the next fifty minutes.

From the get-go, this album is like being submersed by pure guitar noise. The distortion creates great soundscapes, but the music moves at a pace that obviously didn’t have droning riffs in mind. It’s psychedelic and never boring, usually mid-paced or slower, but still familiar with fast sections that just about resemble shredding, with a growling bass echoing over everything. The vocals are considerably rare, usually staying quiet to allow the atmosphere of the instruments to stand tall, but they’re a great golden lining for when they do come in. Nick DeSalvo, the singer, delivers a powerful performance, passionate and intense. His vocals don’t rasp or growl; instead he opts for a much more traditional metal approach, slightly more melodic than Ozzy on Paranoid.

Overall I wouldn’t quite call the band stoner or sludge. They definitely have prominent elements of both metal subgenres there, but their foundation is clearly reminiscent of the 70s and 80s stoner metal scene. Fortunately, they don’t come off at all like their blatant Black Sabbath-worshipping peers within the genre. I have definitely heard similar bands to Elder (Spiritual Beggars come to mind), but they definitely have a unique thing going on. They successfully blend long, drawn-out song progressions and the foggy-thick atmosphere of modern sludge and doom metal bands like Cathedral and Electric Wizard with the hard rock and roll, upbeat early metal scene. Riff after riff delivered in songs up to and around ten minutes long, and every one of them great, most of them quite memorable. The music is totally enthralling and easy to get lost in. Listening to a riff unfold and change over a period of a few minutes to be followed with a quick jolt to the system and a few blues scales, it’s hard to become alienated by the mostly-absent singer. The guitars, bass and drums definitely do their part. The vocals are just a great added bonus and a good way to bookend a really good instrumental section. The musicians here really play off one another, and you can feel that teamwork really play out when you’re listening to the music. They exchange sections generously, and the sense of harmony it creates is awesome.

Another thing I find quite satisfying in Dead Roots Stirring is just the way it can convey moods. There are a lot of slow melancholic sections as one would expect, as well as really gripping soft interludes, but the band is able to strike a nice balance with tunes that are really quite uplifting. The last song, Knot, is a good example of this, as are the solos in The End and Gemini. The instrumental track, III, has a great slow progression in mood from doom-laden acoustic guitar to all-out solo-y goodness that leaves you feeling sky-high. Despite having longer songs than your run-of-the-mill stoner band, not much on the album feels like filler. I wish I could make this review longer by finding something to critique, but I feel like I’d have to nit-pick too much in order to find anything worth complaining about. Perhaps the only issue, and it is a small one, is that at times it can feel like the band is playing safely within the confines of the blueprints they’ve created for themselves, but such a thing would only be a more necessary point to make if I’d heard their other album. But for the time being, I have only heard this one album by them, and I have to judge it standing alone. There’re only five songs here, but they’re all really well thought-out and really solid metal tracks. Maybe a few of you doom/stoner junkies will find the production a little unheavy, but there should be something here that will resonate with most metalheads and fans of rock.

Originally posted on:

Beetroots stirring - 70%

caspian, August 23rd, 2012

The thing that got me looking into this band, cool label aside, was the name. "Elder" - it's strange that no one's taken this name before; it sounds really cool, simple one word name, and it could mean a million things, all of which are awesome. An A grade band name, definitely.

A grade music, though? Not really, but it's definitely a pretty good attempt at living up to the band name. Long jammy stoner stuff, chilled 70's vibes, hendrix-y leads, that sorta thing. Raw but nonetheless really good production; the best kind. A few riffs that get a bit visceral but it's pretty girlfriend metal-esque; nothing ever really crushes, the throaty-yet-melodic vocals (they're good, they're very good) seem like the singer's ultimate best attempt at as much vag as possible. It's not a bad attempt, for sure. Stuff's catchy and well composed; it flows and it's fun being swept along by the rocking, Sleep-y riffs, the constant guitar leads and the powerful (and excellently recorded) rhythm section.

The long jams here do work pretty well; the band's certainly enjoyable, and I think I'd be throwing my sweaty, slightly-poo-stained boxers at the singer where I to see them live. However, the monstrous title track and rather neat instrumental 'III' aside I'm generally left wanting a bit more. The guitar playing's good but never really gets your neck hurting, there's never any sort of slow pummel or slow, inner-space type exploration (III gets close and is maybe let down by the lack of a second guitar?), and likewise things never speed up enough to get out of groovy territory. Fair call- Elder aren't going for huge, earth shaking heaviness- but my tastes are what they are, and was I hoping for something meatier, at least in a few places. I enjoyed every song and it never dragged, but the only tune sticking with me after quite a few listens is III.

The name conjures up mystical, never climbed mountains and goku fighting superman over a planet sized glow in the dark rock, or something, but instead we've got some very well done but hardly-life-changing jams that are like Sleep but not as good. Nice try guys, but you're not Elder just yet.