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derivative but very promising - 75%

gk, December 5th, 2008

Elder is a young band from America that plays a doom/ sludge/ stoner hybrid. This self titled album is their debut and it’s a pretty impressive slice of music as far as debuts go.

The band seem to take most of their influences from the mighty triumvirate of Sabbath, Sleep and Electric Wizard and when your primary influences come from those three bands you really can’t go wrong. It’s a bit pointless to talk about stand out tracks in an album that has only 5 songs and these songs flow into each other quite nicely. Still, it’s the mid album monster Riddle of Steel Pt.1 that really stands out and makes an impression. It has a Sleep meets Electric Wizard vibe happening that is quite heavy and also oozes cool.

Elder is also backed up by the fact that the three fellows in the band can really play their instruments. Nick Disalvo’s guitar playing is fluid and the man has enough chops to really pull off some catchy guitar lines which are not very common in the whole stoner doom field. He’s backed up very ably by the rhythm section of Jack Donovan and Matt Couto both of whom are rock solid and again display some very welcome inventiveness in their playing styles. The vocals remind me a bit of Matt Pike but I think sometimes it tends to overpower the music and is a bit too loud in the mix. Also, the transition from kickass groovy riffs to soaring lead guitar mayhem is a little abrupt and sloppy even if both those sections are great on their own.

All in all, I’d say that Elder are a very promising band. They are a little derivative and wear their influences on their sleeves but that is countered by solid musicianship and some very cool songwriting. This is an album that’s well worth checking out and Elder is a band that I’m going to keep an eye on because they are off to a pretty good start and I get the feeling these fellows are only going to get better with time.

Originally written for

Respect The Elder. - 80%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 29th, 2008

More doom/sludge crossovers for you. This time, we’re dealing with an American band, rather new to the scene, called Elder. Since their 2008 arrival with their self-titled piece, Elder have gained notoriety and praise for their strange appealing soundscapes which also seem to incorporate some sort of stoner influence, particularly in the guitars and vocals. The band, consisting of three members, has actually been around for a few years now, but this is the first full-length effort. I’ve not heard any previous material, so no comparisons can be made, which is a shame as I’d like to take note of the evolution of the band. Considering the band has faced line-up changes, in the form of replacing the departed bassist, it would be interesting to see where Elder originated, in musical terms, and compare it to where they are now, but that’s not going to happen folks. This self-titled piece marks an influx of doom records this year. In my eyes, 2008 has shined down upon the genre giving it a number of excellent records to shower on its fans who had high hopes after the success of 2007, which was an all round great year for metal. Elder’s record doesn’t match the best I’ve heard from this sort of sub-genre, or crossover act, but it is particularly good in certain areas, namely bass and guitar. The production is also well produced. It doesn’t allow the music to sound stiff, or rigid. The instrumentation doesn’t suffer from the sufficient amount of bass or distorted work, which is pleasing. If there is one aspect to look out for, its the bass for its construction of mammoth sounds.

This self-titled piece is strange. It says that Elder are a doom metal band who incorporate sludge parts into their music, but I don’t feel that way myself. What I can hear is stoner influences, in much a similar vain to many of the leading bands of the genre. The inclusion of an influential bassist, for example, is the stand out aspect that makes me believe Elder are more fixated on the stoner sub-genre, as opposed to the sludge sub-genre which Metal Archives says they are. Strange, complex and intricate, Elder use a good combination style of play, mixing and matching bass lines with guitar leads to maximise the effect of the stoner influence which, to me, is seemingly evident throughout the entire piece. Perhaps, once upon a time, Elder did convey their music with a notorious sludge ethic, but not so much nowadays. I can sense an Electric Wizard vibe about the music. Particularly mid-era Electric Wizard, but perhaps this is just wishful thinking? I am in one way comparing this record to the prophesied piece ‘Dopethrone’, which the fans seem to love (I thought it was rather overrated personally), but there is a British influence upon this band, and the lyrics convey this to me rather clearly with the vocalist stating, “I am the witch” throughout the epic ‘Hexe’ number which contains some sweet sounding acoustics that add to the mesmerising beauty that the clean vocals provide. Thankfully, there is no overpowering screaming or growled vocal work, this aspect works for the music. There seems to be some use of keyboards, or programming of some sort because there is a lot of generated ambiance from instruments other than the usual guitars. This isn’t confirmed though, merely a suspicion on my part.

I wouldn’t call this the most OUT THERE record I’ve heard. It isn’t particularly creative or innovative, its just plain old doom mixed with sludge and stoner metal and its done well. Some tremendous psychedelic soundscapes which depict colourful emotions flowing like water, strong musicianship with strong song writing skills that allow bass to figure prominently despite the distortion of the guitars, good vocals, well worked and very well constructed songs that serve as memorable trips of the mind, body and soul. There are no real outstanding qualities to this self-titled record, but its well written and the fact that there is no real cutting edge that takes the view of this piece from being good to brilliant doesn’t act as a deterrent from listening to this record again because it is enjoyable whilst it lasts. The song lengths aren’t even an issue despite the lack of outstanding qualities. There is strength to be found in the consistency of the instrumentation. The bass, which loves to figure prominently adapts well to the figuring of distortion from the guitars and plays down the use of a powerful percussion style that likes to inflict drum beats like daggers to the heart. The solos, which remind me of bands like Tool, oddly enough, on songs like ‘Riddle Of Steel Pt.1’ are the best moments to look out for, cruising through the soundscapes like a jet powered machine gliding across the water in view of the awesome images that the instrumentation conjures up. Pleasing, without being brilliant.