If you’ve been listening to heavy music in the past decade and you haven’t been listening to Elder, you’ve been missing out. They’re a band that I took a while to get into, probably because I saw how long their songs were and I probably figured “I need to wait until I have time to process this.” The funny thing is that, for a band who regularly records 12-minute epics, they’re pretty easy to get into. They put the riffs up front and center, and all of their songs, no matter how lengthy or progressive in structure, always lean heavy on melody. I might even go so far as to say anyone who is hesitant about listening to progressive rock should listen to Elder first—they take you to pretty far-off places, but they always let you see the horizon ahead.
Honestly though, Lore is a goddamn incredible achievement of an album, to the extent that I think there are few metal or hardcore releases from the ’10s that stand up to it. I can name some obvious ones, like Sunbather or Yellow and Green (maybe that’s not obvious to everyone, but I’m a superfan) or Clearing the Path to Ascend, but Elder more than hold their own. What’s all the more remarkable is that they more or less became a cult favorite band on a hard-working D.I.Y. ethic. They tour a lot (or did before all this), self-booked, self-promoted, and so on. It’s only recently that they enlisted a full-time publicist, and one who handles a lot of big-name bands in heavy music. It’s impressive and inspiring to see a band make that journey almost entirely on their own.
It helps that the music is as good as Lore is. It’s a double album that has five songs on it, to give you an idea of how big this thing goes. Which means almost every track takes up a side of its own, which makes perfect sense when they all occupy their own universe in a manner of speaking. The title track alone is essentially a quarter of the album, showcasing some of the band’s most ambitious, psychedelic arrangements, while “Compendium” goes for the riffs early and often. “Legend” is my personal favorite, a sort of melancholy dirge with elements of post-rock that escalates from beautiful to burly. And closer “Spirit at Aphelion” has slowly grown to be my second favorite, with some pastoral prog-folk opening riffs that remind me of ’70s dad standards like America, but with a weirder, more psychedelic streak at the heart of it.
Considering how long this is and how many record flips it requires to get through, you might be surprised to learn that it’s one of my most-listened records in the whole collection. Suffice it to say I’m pretty well on board with these long-ass songs, and I evangelize the band as often as possible. A while back my brother asked for some metal bands to check out and I gave him a pretty long list. A year or so later I asked how far he’d gotten and he said “to be honest, I’m still mostly listening to that Elder album.” I can’t blame him. It’s that good.
Sound Quality: Great