Review Summary: Elder and Kadavar go vintage on their collaborative effort
In hindsight, Americans Elder and Germans Kadavar seem like an ideal match. Both groups are big names in the heavy psych/stoner realm, and their paths became ever more likely to cross once Elder relocated to Deutschland (seemingly the undeclared center of the universe for heavy psych), but it still took a series of events to make the grandly-titled Eldovar-A Story Of Darkness & Light
come to fruition, The groups started jamming together at some point during the COVID-19 pandemic (you may have heard of it) and one thing led to another, resulting in this full-scale collaboration being released.
The music on this album is likely not a total surprise for anyone who has been following the trajectory of the two bands involved. Elder’s steady shift from grittier stoner rock/metal towards more airy prog has been well-documented, and Kadavar’s 2020 effort The Isolation Tapes
was alternately lauded and dismissed for its dive into Pink Floydian space rock. With this set of seven songs, the collaborators lean into classic influences, not just that of the aforementioned Pink Floyd but of 70s-era progressive rock more generally, along with traditional hard rock like Led Zeppelin. This is (of course) leavened with a dose of modern stoner and psychedelic sensibilities, but the album remains retro in spirit.
Despite its an ambitious-sounding moniker, Eldovar-A Story Of Darkness & Light
benefits greatly from an approximately forty-five runtime, which proves ideal for what it is offering. Despite the relative brevity, though, not everything here is especially memorable. The album’s closing one-two punch of the lengthy epic “Blood Moon Night”, which nicely balances mellow shimmer and head-banging rock, and the gorgeous “Cherry Trees” is the best on offer, but before the listener gets there he or she has to make it through a few less impressive numbers. More disappointing offerings include “In The Way”, which seems directly inspired by some of Led Zeppelin’s folkier songs like “Tangerine” or “Going To California” but sadly measures nowhere near either of those classics, and the instrumental interlude “Rebirth Of The Twins”, which passes by without much to comment on. That said, nothing here is less than reliably pleasant, and there are numerous gripping moments throughout (my personal favorites being several sections of the previously-cited “Blood Moon Light” and the grand guitar solo which ends “El Matador”).
Taken on its own terms, Eldovar-A Story Of Darkness & Light
is a great record which most fans of the two creator bands will enjoy (to varying degrees). It’s also a fairly accessible effort which will appeal to a broader audience within the rock-loving public. However, this release ultimately seems more like a curio than a classic, and will likely not serve as the iconic moment for either Elder or Kadavar.