The Metal Minute Awarded 2009 Best Personal Blog By Metal Hammer Magazine

Friday, November 28, 2008

CD Review: Elder - s/t

Elder - s/t
2009 Meteor City Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

One thing you have to admire about the stoner and doom sects of metal; they keep growing more ingenious by the minute in updating a retro style of Blue Cheer-drenched chaw. The sound is frequently comparable to the soundtrack of haplessly swishing a mop across the floor of the mall corridors in one's teenage conundrum while peers tramp across the wet tiles for the perverse sport of it. The heavier this music is, the more it's reflective of a never-escaping-this-rut emotion that weighs on one's mind, whether they're in their teens or much further along in life. They don't call it doom for nothing.

If a form of metal speaks to its listeners without needing lyrical content to drive the message home, this is it, folks. It's a reason The Sword has gained such favor in the metal community Metallica hired them as openers to try and restore their own street cred. It's also the reason bands such as Boris, Weedeater, Sourvein, High On Fire, Fu Manchu, Cathedral, Ramesses, Indian, Farflung and Spiritual Beggars are what's truly hip in heavy music alongside the art drones of Neurosis, Pelican and Isis.

Granted, the more Sleep, Kyuss and The Obsessed-addicted practitioners crawl their way into the underground, the higher the chance this sanction is going to become old hat. Still, at the moment, there's nothing that spews heaviness than the tonal splooge excreted by these bands and now Boston's Elder.

Elder's cover, which is reminiscent of the psychedelic outer-planetary hijacking of the Steppenwolf 7 cover with the Creepshow spirit of Berni Wrightson exemplifies everything to be said about doom and stoner rock. His Atlantis kingdom brought down to disrepair by the seductive half-flashing snake nymphs, King Neptune clasps his hand to his downtrodden facade in frustration. Drudgery aquatic.

The guitars of Nick Desalvo play a near-funereal cadence of damnation at the seven-minute mark of "Hexe," while "Riddle of Steel Part 1" (as in the flesh-is-stronger epithet Thulsa Doom relays in the first Conan the Barbarian flick) rides a stamping metallic two-step for half of the ten-minute journey before turning to a sprial perplexion dreamscape filled with whispering synths and an ultimate building back up to a loud 'n proud headbang fest. For good measure, Desalvo tops off this booming cut with some greasy wah-wah all the way to the finish line.

"Ghost Line" is so heavy it's almost sickening, even when it strays away from the song's poundingly poky thunder rhythm and begins dicking around in jam fashion in search of an aural high through acid-head note injections. There's a methodology to Elder's song structure where they arrange their tunes around two large sections of primary riff blasts before searching for an elevated (and sometimes downplayed) noise space between.

They aren't always on the dime, but in Elder's case, occasional sloppiness does this album a great big service, much as the reason sixties rock is as guttural and emotionally-powerful as it is: imperfection is sometimes the charm.

Of course, if this stuff really isn't for you, there's always Britney Spears' Circus...

Rating: ****


Metal Mark said...

This is a good one. A lot like Holy Mountain era "Sleep", but heavier and perhaps more aggressive.

I can't agree with this statement though-
"It's a reason The Sword has gained such favor in the metal community Metallica hired them as openers to try and restore their own street cred"

A)Metallica have made their money and I think they stopped caring about "street cred" around 89-90.
B)I think they just brought on the Sword because they like this kind of music. Metallica had Kyuss opening for them back around like 1996. The Sword sound like Sabbath crossed with NWOBHM and we all know Metallica are fans of those styles as well.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...


David Amulet said...

How does this compare to Earth? Compare and contrast.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Well, bro, I would say the Earth connection is subtle in a few spots of concentrated drone ostinato I heard. It's not like Elder slows the pace to a Hibernaculum pace, but I heard it in increments.

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