Review Summary: The progressive rock process is complete...
Elder are one of those bands their peers should take notes from. The ascending sonic path they have been on since their debut is downright impressive. Aside from audibly leveling up skills on their instruments with each passing year, the quartet have been thoroughly honing the group chemistry as well. The results are always rewarding, amassing previous experiments while taking steps forward too. Last year’s Gold & Silver Sessions
EP opened new doors, cutting the distortion and vocals in order to expand on psychedelic, sometimes krautrock-inspired jams. Meanwhile, keyboard parts enriched the palette, discreetly enveloping the guitars. As expected, the latest album, Omens
benefits from these features, blending everything into another epic journey.
At this point, the stoner rock and doom elements in Elder’s music are reduced to traces, since they have morphed into a progressive rock band with psychedelic leanings. Completing this process is new drummer, Georg Edert who favors a more subtle style with multiple flourishes (characteristic to the respective genre), as opposed to Matt Couto's focus on straightforward, punchy patterns. Meanwhile, as usual, the songs themselves pass through several moods, yet with less aggression overall. The band prefers to explore more melodic passages this time, often intertwining guitar notes. ‘Halcyon’ and ‘One Light Retreating’ display best these smooth interactions, building lovely leads alongside really tight bass and drum grooves. Crunchy chords and licks are switched back and forth, thus, creating beautiful sonic landscapes for us to wander over. The heavy segments don’t reach such powerful heights as on preceding LPs, but I understand the quartet’s decision to create a different, albeit cohesive experience. Moreover, the electronic elements occasionally share the spotlight, especially on the title track and ‘In Procession’. It’s interesting how nicely they accompany the guitar progressions, still, there are several moments where they are used as short introductions or lush intermissions with ambient purposes. Now, the one thing left to improve is Nick’s voice. He gradually included more verses over the years, slowly taking them to the forefront. Due to a polished production, his vocals are at their most audible on Omens
. The front man did a good job working on his delivery, however, on certain parts he struggles a bit to sing them. Nevertheless, I am sure he is aware and working on this aspect as well.
In the end, Omens
is an excellent album, one that is both familiar for fans and a step further in Elder’s sonic evolution. All the noodling and meticulous structure developments paid off, since all songs flow impressively smooth. We receive just about everything in each of them, from sweet, subdued notes to hard hitting riffs, besides infectious crescendos or atmospheric, melodic progressions. I can see a number of people being slightly turned off by the diminished presence of murky stoner grooves, although this transition was gentle enough for everyone to accommodate to it by now. Give the LP a few listens to properly unfold and plunge into the group’s brilliant universe.