Review Summary: Refreshingly memorable stoner rock.
Elder’s tone sits somewhere between Black Sabbath, Torche and Sleep. They’ve found a sweet spot in their production, keeping clear sight of all instrumentation whilst overdubbing fuzzed guitars to create deliciously thick walls of sound. It's a winning formula of stoner/psychedelic/sludge with just a dash of blues in the leads. This neat and complimentary ratio between genres keeps the songs evolving and engaging.
The vocals are superbly composed and without a doubt one of the albums best features. Nick DiSalvo never sings out of place, every delivery is right on time and packed with feeling. My favourite moment in this respect would have to be the first time we hear Nicks voice in ‘Gemeni’:
“Those days, where are we to go, stumbling down the empty streets while we were swallowed in this hole.”
Sounding something like a slowed down fu Manchu chorus, this verse powerfully harmonizes with guitar arpeggios and a beefy bass line. 4 minutes down the track the tempo increases and climaxes in a short lived, adventurous stoner jam. Even at 9 minutes this opener doesn’t waste any time and does a fine job of welcoming the listener to the albums overdriven, fuzzy tone.
The title track opens in a less focused manner. The dense layering and low-end distortion is still present but the guitar instead chooses to build a series of scintillate leads, leaving the rhythm section to pick up the slack of the ever-present sludge grooves. The melodic directions of the solos and melodies focus more on finding a desired emotion and less on unnecessary showboating. The end result is delightfully refreshing style of stoner rock. A fine Example is the end of III, where a slippery sounding guitar slithers its way through the heavy soundscape, rearing it’s head wherever deemed necessary before snaking back to the sea of distortion.
Matt Couto and Jack Donovan do a great job of providing rhythmic support to Elders sound. The euphoric 16 bar chord progression at the end of Knot wouldn’t be what it is without the driving bass lines or the dynamically shaping beats and fills. Although the record is fairly gritty and mid paced, there are a few moments where we see through the fluffy cloud of dubbed and fuzzed guitars to view a more graceful side of Elder, as heard at the start of III. Wind samples, tom patterns and bass rumbles evoke imagery of tumbleweeds rolling around a desolate backdrop. The songs melodic theme is soon enough planted in this arid wasteland and against all odds matures to bear fruit worthy of stoner rock heaven.
Guitar effects are tastefully integrated into the songs and mostly include fuzz, overdrive and wah. The end of III shows superb displays of psychedelic wah action, as Nick raises and lowers the filter sweep in tight sync with the twists and turns of his riffing. Acoustic guitars seep from the formwork of this song in a slowly building ambiance. The tense atmosphere converts what should be the ugly sound of miss-plucked strings into creepily serene vibrations. Sludgy power chords and psychedelic riffs push the songs in new directions until finally giving way to one of the many stimulating psych/stoner influenced melodies this album has to offer.
With continued releases of this caliber I can see Elder rising to a position of high achievement within the genre. I urge fans of fuzzed out rock to give this a spin, as I’m sure they too will discover that each of these five songs has something interesting and memorable to offer.
Guitar/Vocals/Keys: Nick DiSalvo
Bass: Jack Donovan
Drums: Matt Couto