Elder – Omens Review

Band: Elder
Album: Omens
Label: Stickman Records
Genre: Progressive Psychedelic Rock
Country: United States
Release Date: April 24th, 2020
For Fans Of: Pink Floyd, Sleep

Elder are one of those bands that are hugely underappreciated despite having a flawless discography. Everything that they have ever graced upon our unworthy ears has never failed to leave a long-lasting impression. Given most people aren’t used to listening to music that doesn’t follow your typical verse-chorus-verse chorus structure, I am sad to say that I understand the difficulty most listeners would have with being able to appreciate music like that you will find here on Omens. Elder doesn’t shy away from making music that is otherworldly, despite not following the rules to create “popular”, easily digestible music. Elder makes music that will take you on a spiritual journey, a journey that is as captivating on its thousandth listen as it is on its first; this is something that cannot be said for most records out there. Like other records in their discography, Omens has incredible staying power as the passion and creativity that underlies this record is undeniably striking as it is daring.

On Omens, Elder are even moreso embracing the psychedelic flavor as was experimented with on The Gold & Silver Sessions, the EP they dropped just last year. As heard on that EP, Omens see Elder diving headfirst into creating some really entrancing progressive psychedelic rock music, as if their music wasn’t already entrancing to begin with; this music is mystifying in a different kind of way. There are bound to be fans who refuse to give this record a chance due to that fact of there being little to no stoner-doom but that is their loss as the music is still just as stellar, just in a different way.  Regardless of whether it is more progressive psychedelic or the stoner-doom hybrid, Omens is something you won’t be able to put down once it fully engulfs you, that is for sure. It may not be anywhere near as heavy as previous works, but its ethereal nature makes it incredibly captivating. The pristine production only makes the soundscapes sound massive, ultimately making this record an absolute pleasure to indulge oneself in, especially to the audiophiles out there. Overall, the aesthetic of the music might be different than what Elder is known for, but their song structure and overall style of writing is still very much Elder, that much is obvious. Their music has never been flashy in any way but rather a masterful performance of musical reservation.  These guys know when to hold back and build tension, and they know when to unleash and create some truly powerful walls of sound that hit you harder than you thought could be possible.

The way I see it on Omens, Elder are a unique and modern continuation of the sound Pink Floyd had pioneered (not to the extent that Greta Van Fleet are a “modern-day Led Zeppelin” by the way) with the incredibly textured and lush soundscapes and complex yet linear song structures that take you to an entirely different world. The shimmery guitar leads, seamless incorporation of the droning synths and fluttery keyboards, roaring but tasteful solos alongside some of the sassy riffs and bass lines, all supported by this powerful foundation that is the man behind the kit. There are masterful yet subtle performances to be found in every nook and cranny on this record. Regarding the vocals, this seems to be the only element that feels slightly weaker, for lack of a better word, as compared to previous records. The vocal melodies found on Omens don’t seem to stick as much as they do on Lore and Reflections of a Floating World for example. The vocals are the least memorable part of the music, that is not to be mistaken that with the vocals being bad at all, they are far from bad. It just seems that all the effort went into the crafting of the massive instrumental section, which most certainly paid off at the cost of the slightly less memorable vocal melodies.

Throughout this record, there is so much going on at any given moment, yet at the same time, it is all one fluid entity, taking you on a soothing journey with many amazing sights and stops along the way. One of the highlights on this record is the emphasis on the keyboards, as it makes every single track undeniably mesmerizing, especially notable on Halcyon, Embers, and One Light Retreating. Given that the guitarists are also the keyboardists, it is interesting to see how they weave the addition of the keyboards and synths into the music alongside the guitars. Despite being a much more ethereal and dreamy record rather than a chunkier one, Elder make damn sure to tastefully fit in those groovy, jam-like passages that made you fall in love with them in the beginning, I can assure you that.

One thing that makes such passages and those soaring leads much more tantalizing is how clear you can hear each of the two distinct guitars individually rather than being lost in the mix over one another.  It makes those super catchy leads stick in your head that much more, it is undeniably gratifying to say the least. The timing of those guitar lines are barely yet precisely out of sync so that you can distinctly hear the two guitars rather than just one single guitar, ultimately creating this slight delay/echo effect that is incredibly satisfying. This is very noticeable on tracks like Halcyon and One Light Retreating. This was so masterfully done to create a much more dense and warm listening environment, especially when the bass and percussion provide plenty enough rhythm already. Little details like this are so expertly calculated in such a way to add another dimension to the music, and it does exactly that.

Elder may be turning a new leaf with Omens, but this is still very much an Elder record at its core, with new and exciting surprises waiting for you at each and every bend. Ride-or-die stoner/doom Elder fans likely will be let down because it isn’t what those fans particularly want, but the music itself is still beyond elegant, so their loss! If you’re expecting some of those sweet trademark Elder jam-sessions, this record most certainly delivers that in spades whilst providing some luscious atmospheric passages to accompany. This record is going to age like a fine wine, just like every Elder record has.

Rating: 9/10

Track list:

  1. Omens
  2. In Procession
  3. Halcyon
  4. Embers
  5. One Light Retreating

Total Playing Time: 55:34

Click here to visit Elder’s Bandcamp

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