Monday, February 16, 2009

Elder Album Review

Album Review
Anyone who knows me well enough will tell you that I am indeed a sucker for heavy, throwback music. If its sounds like something that would have been blasted through a Laney or Orange stack in the 1970's amidst a thick, smoky haze, I will more than likely enjoy it. Most recently, I discovered Elder, a three-piece from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, whose self-titled debut was just released on Meteor City Records, the official in-house label of Unlike many new found gems of late, this album does not sound note-for-note like something from the founding fathers of heavy metal that blasted the ears of the late 60's and early 70's. Instead, Elder adopts the tones and basic riff structure of these behemoths of yesterday, gives their own spin on the music, and makes it much, much heavier. This album breathes more early Sleep than Sabbath and is your quintessential stoner/sludge/doom metal hybrid along the lines of Electric Wizard. However, if you are looking for a new take on the whole stoner rock sound, don't expect to get that out of Elder. They do what they do and do it well I might add, sticking to everything that is attributed to this sound from almost any band in the subgenre. Each song clocks in above the seven-minute mark, with the entire album flowing together as a whole much stronger than if you looked at each song individually. Thus, it is extremely hard to pick out a favorite or highlight track from the five song album that weighs in at over 40 minutes of music.

Musically, the album is thick and meaty with heavy riffs that are well established throughout, often taking presidence over the lyrical and vocal elements within. The tempos range from slow to medium pace, often changing course several times during the album's extremely long tracks. Their rhythms are pretty simple and add to overall sludge feel of a great deal of the music, with a heavy emphasis on the crashed ride cymbal patterns and distorted bass lines that you almost feel more than hear a great deal of the time. Elder uses a production quality that is not over the top at all, keeping things loose and almost lo-fi at times, and seems to have recorded a great deal of this live in studio with minimal overdubs. Added layers of sparse keyboard work, acoustic/classical guitar, and fuzz harmonies add another dimension to the music and the sound of the album, broadening the horizons beyond your traditional three piece fare. Some of the sections in which the organ is featured brings to mind an almost Type O Negative feel, which might sound strange in this stoner arena, but honestly works quite well. Vocally, Elder pulls off a mid-range dirge, sounding similar to Al Cisneros of Sleep and, at times, Lemmy from Motorhead. The vocals are sparsely placed and take the backseat to the heavy riffs and massive weight of the music itself, as is the case in most stoner rock/metal endeavors.

Elder's self-titled debut is a great addition to the collection of anyone who enjoys great heavy music, whether it be rock or metal. They stay within the boundaries of what makes a great heavy, hazy release and are beginning to earn a place at the table with other greats in this circle. Again, no new territory is covered with this release, but who are we kidding? Those who try to stretch the boundaries too much are cast out and thrown to the curb for the Metal Gods to devour. -Andrew Bryant


Mr. Booni said...

So, is it at all inspired by the classic KISS concept album, "The Elder"?

Disc Exchange said...

I don't believe so. But, you never know. The Elders in the KISS storyline were combating evil and I would venture to guess that this Elder is on the other side of the spectrum.