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Elder
Reflections Of A Floating World
Type: CD
Company: Armageddon
Release: 2017
Genre: Doom/Stoner
Reviewer: Vinaya Saksena
Published: 10/22/2017
More generous helpings of their tasty prog-doom
At this point, Massachusetts doom metallers Elder have pretty much established themselves as a creative force skilled enough and unique enough within the genre to be respected internationally--something devoted supporters of local music in New England (my home turf) can be proud of. They began as one of those strong but not particularly unique acts operating near the sludge-filled sonic intersection of doom and stoner metal. But the trio (newly expanded to a quartet live and apparently on at least part of this record by second guitarist Michael Risberg) has been steadily growing as a creative unit, gradually making their sound ever more diverse and adventurous. In fact, I would argue that their last album--2015's Lore--found the band writing material ambitious enough in scope that it now wouldn't be entirely inappropriate to call them the Led Zeppelin of 21st century doom. With ever-shifting mazes of massive riffs, unexpected tempo changes and almost hypnotic atmospheric breaks--and only one song under the ten minute mark, mind you--Lore was actually almost too much crushing brilliance to absorb.

With its rich production, huge guitar sound and complex interplay between multiple guitar parts (including some tasty harmonized lines), perhaps Lore signaled to the band members that they had taken the power trio incarnation of Elder as far as it could go. This, it seems, is where Risberg comes in. Though he's listed as a guest musician in the Reflections Of A Floating World CD booklet (along with pedal steel guitarist Michael Samos), Risberg has apparently been added to the band's live lineup for recent shows. Considering guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo's increasingly sophisticated and multi-layered guitar work in the studio, this addition was probably becoming a necessity.

The new album's opening cut, "Sanctuary," picks up right where the last album left off (not surprisingly, since it was actually introduced to audiences during the tour for the Lore album), with the mix of heft, complexity and psychedelic sonic textures that become expected from the band. And for the rest of the album's first half (and portions of the rest), things are much the same. But there is something slightly different this time, a subtle but noticeable shift further towards the increased sonic diversity hinted at on Lore. But whereas that album felt dominated by massive, thundering Gibson SG tones rather than the more subtle bits, Reflections feels like a somewhat more even split between the two. It's not enough of a difference to have diehard fans from the band's early days grumbling "sellout" (as Mastodon have begun to experience), but enough to make this album feel slightly less overwhelming than its monumental predecessor. There's also a bit of a surprise, and accompanying lightening of the mood, in the form of the vaguely Krautrock-flavored instrumental "Sonntag." It's one of those jammy, fairly minimalist compositions that can feel a tad monotonous and aimless, but at the same time enjoyable in a chill, somewhat hypnotic way.

Again, Lore was an album so powerful and ambitious that it was almost too much of a good thing, simultaneously heralding what now seems like the end of an era for Elder. Reflections, then, finds the band taking its first steps toward figuring out what happens next, giving us a few more generous helpings of their tasty prog-doom recipe even as they continually tweak it. In the process, they've managed to produce an album that feels a tad more accessible than the last--just slightly less ambitious and overpowering, but clearly not an abandoning of what made that one such a stunning piece of work. And while they've established a certain sonic identity, no one can really guess where Elder's sound will go next. They have been evolving at a healthy pace since their early days, and what they've done recently, particularly on these last two albums, leaves the possibilities wide open.
About this Writer:
Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: ELDER
CD
TITLE BAND
DOR
REVIEWER DATE
Reflections Of A Floating WorldElder
2017
Vinaya Saksena10/22/2017


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