For years now, the Boston psych-prog dreamers Elder have been a consistent and ever strangely calming presence. Through their myriad of releases, which spans EPs, spilts and a number of long plays, the group have proven their aptitude for elegantly intertwining prog heft with lush psych - an aural compound that soothes and allures.
The opening to Omens, the group's fifth full length, once again sets an ambient scene with intricately smooth guitar riffs that gradually weave into strong metallic riffage and a steady rhythm section to create a strongly psychedelic title-track. The imagery of their astral plane space-rock influences shines through musically, making the lack of vocals throughout the mostly instrumental opening song barely noticeable; as if they were needed when the music sets the atmosphere so well. It may be considered slightly daring to open an album with a song over ten minutes long, even for a band of such stature as Elder, but the atmosphere here is set so well that the time does not feel like it drags at all.
The well-created mood continues throughout the sophomore track, “In Procession”, though unfortunately here a slightly lazy-sounding vocal delivery may impede enjoyment for the listener somewhat. The singing throughout this track simply sounds like too much is being held back by the vocalist, instead of really being let out and sung. Musically though, the track should be praised for its seamless writing in blending between louder and quieter sections.
Next, the minimalistic introduction to “Halcyon” is highly enjoyable, especially with the gradual build-up and adding of extra lines reminiscent of Steve Reich or Mike Oldfield. The strong musicianship of the group continues throughout the LP’s five songs, without overstaying its welcome in the slightest. It has its weak spots, and DiSalvo’s vocal delivery on this LP may still be something of an acquired taste; it’s difficult to make out the lyrics even at the best of times.
However, thankfully, the strong musical ability of all four musicians remains enough of a strong suit to overcome this, and sure that Omens is a strong contribution to the genre, and one that sees Elder continue to successfully add to their tradition of experimenting with new elements with each new release. The Earth as a whole may be teetering preciously upon irreversible damage, but once again Elder invite you to join them within the aural sanctum in which they soundtrack.
Omens is released April 24th via Stickman Records. Pre-order the album here.