Review Summary: Blending Reflections and Omens to create a mammoth of a record…
Elder have completed the process of becoming a progressive rock band with 2020’s Omens
. The production became crystal clear, the overall approach owed more to ‘70s acts rather than modern stoner doom fuzz and various synths were present all over the songs. What was going to happen next? Bring a harder edge back into the sound. It definitely helps the gnarly epics on Innate Passage
reach new peaks from that extra boost its predecessor often missed. The foundation of this LP follows the same recipe, the quartet working on small details and vocal delivery most. More crunch on guitars brings improved dynamics, especially when crafting such sonic rollercoaster rides. There are also more upbeat segments this time, augmenting the overall flow. The first two tracks especially, “Catastasis” & “Endless Return” are the most powerful here. They have carefully built structures, admirably blending intertwined leads among electronic touches, while the bass and drums play their own tight grooves. It seems as if they took a page from Motorpsycho and their recent antics. Meanwhile, Nick’s voice feels more comfortable, finding a sweet spot in his range so he doesn’t struggle. “Coalescence”, on the other hand, starts strong with a fun, alternative rock riff. After setting the mood, the tempo starts shifting and synths gently expand around it. The tune at the core switches between softer verses and heavier choruses, leaving way to a sweet keyboard solo over the pounding coda. I enjoy a lot the way Elder keep you on your toes without using slow build-ups to reach a grand finale. Often the little things happening mid-song are just as interesting, if not more than that one riff at the end to wait for.
One thing that the group has held onto tightly is the usual 5-track records, which still works wonders for them. At this point, they effortlessly pull off such massive epics. For example, “Merged in Dreams/Ne Plus Ultra” dives head first into prog territory, going from lush Moog keyboard lines over a dreamy instrumental to dueling guitar solos or labyrinthine rhythm sections with several breaks. Annexed is an atmospheric variation of the main melody, its picked chords floating until one final, striking riff caps them all. Album closer, “The Purpose” further develops from the same sonic bits of its preceding cut. The sharp guitars take off each in its own direction, whereas the bass does a splendid job driving the tune with its thick low end presence. Slightly darker in tone, this final moment on the LP emphasizes maybe most the introspective vibe of Innate Passage
. It reflects the course and results of Elder’s current phase. From the explosive, fuzz-drenched early works to the more settled, mature route, the band embarked on one of the most ambitious trajectories in the genre. Thankfully, it keeps paying off as this is another brilliant effort and a must listen.