Review

ELDER Reflections of a Floating World

Album · 2017 · Hard Rock
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4/5 ·
adg211288
Active for a little over a decade now and US band Elder have certainly changed along the way. Starting life as a stoner/doom metal band and releasing the self-titled debut album Elder (2008) in this style, they've become increasingly more based in psychedelic and progressive sounds, which is the flavour of the day on the group's fourth full-length album, Reflections of a Floating World (2017).

Much like their last album Lore (2015), Reflections of a Floating World is a lengthy album made up of a short track list. Six tracks, each lasting for extended durations where the shortest offering is 8:39 long, with most surpassing ten minutes. The title track of Lore was longer than any of these here, but overall Reflections of a Floating World stands as Elder's longest record to date. With long running times like these it's obvious that the band wasn't writing with catchy tracks in mind, but something more atmospheric and intricate that requires the teeth to be sunk into and given several listens before it can really be appreciated.

Some elements of the band's earlier metal sound is still in evidence on the album, such as during opener Sanctuary, which starts off in such a way that you'd be forgiven for thinking nothing had changed since the debut, but mostly Elder have moved away from metal at this point and are better described as a heavy psych group with strong progressive rock influences in the structure of their compositions. They're still pretty heavy though. Plenty of vocals are used, but quite often there are extended instrumental sections, which prove to be the most interesting aspect of the band's music. Quite the range of different sounds can be heard within the same song from keyboard parts, clean tone guitars and metallic riffs. When the vocals are featured it's of note that frontman Nicholas DiSalvo's singing style has changed a lot since the band's early days, being much more melodic and in keeping with the more rock based music the band is playing now.

Reflections of a Floating World is certainly the kind of album that is a slow burn. There's a lot going on and a listener may be several listens deep before they've even started to get a grasp on the scope of the work Elder has created. It's pretty grand. The biggest issue facing the release though is that despite being very accomplished there isn't actually all that much to give the tracks identity from each other even after several complete listens. This makes it the kind of album that is best taken in a single sitting to get its full effect, but it's long duration may be a barrier to some listeners. The one track that really stands out as different is the much lighter and hypnotic instrumental Sonntag. Though the album as a whole can be described as an atmospheric work, that song takes it even further. Technically speaking though it's the least interesting of the bunch, slowly building and changing up small ideas in what's otherwise a fairly repetitive pattern. Fortunately it's the shortest song, but as mentioned earlier, that still makes it 8:39 long.

An intriguing album that I have to say does live up to its name in the way it inspires reflective contemplation in me, Reflections of a Floating World is not perfect by any means, but it's clear to me that the trio that make up Elder are a group of talented guys. They seem to still be in the transitional stage from their earlier stoner/doom metal sound though and haven't yet completely honed their new craft. For my part I find this album quite the pleasure while its running and can recognise the number of quality riffs found within, but after the event it's failing to leave too much of a lasting impression, and that's the kind of thing that is going to elevate Elder's music to the next level.
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18 days ago
Sounds good. I’m going through episodes of Banger TV’s Lock Horns series and learning about bands from all the discussions on subgenres. I try to listen to some of the bands or albums mentioned and see (or hear) if there’s anything I might want to add to my collection. I’m also grabbing Orange Goblin and Electric Wizard and maybe Weedeater too.
adg211288 wrote:
18 days ago
Elder's earlier work is more metal than this one is Peter. I checked out their debut for a bit of context before finishing this review and its quite different. More full on stoner/doom metal.

By the way, the third album in the little trio I mentioned is Spaceslug's Time Travel Dilemma - it was my previous reviewer's challenge album. That too, is more (stoner) metal than this one (and more metal than Ruby the Hatchet's album). Worth a listen as well if you're intrigued by this kind of thing. I rate it close but ever so slightly higher than this one.

Review: https://goo.gl/apkgF5

666sharon666 wrote:
18 days ago
I thought it was pretty good too, though not the best hard rock album of the year for me.
18 days ago
Thanks, adg211288. I saw your review a few weeks ago and did check it out. It didn’t grab me at the time but then it was just casual curiosity. I probably gave Elder more of an ear because I heard about them in a discussion about stoner metal and I was checking out a few of the bands that came up. Anyway, I’ll listen again to both. No rush because not much money! Ha ha!
adg211288 wrote:
18 days ago
It's a decent album - will be worth picking up despite a few issues (that you may not even have with it). Always stream in full first when in doubt though.

By the way, on RYM this is the highest rated hard rock album of 2017 - so the consensus is that most like it more than I do.

But for my money this is one of three albums from this year that are quite similar in their heavy pysch/stoner sounds and for me this is the weakest of the three. I'd recommend looking up Ruby the Hatchet's Planetary Space Child instead. My review is here:

https://goo.gl/zGogJM

18 days ago
I recently heard about this band and decidede to check out their stuff with some cursory listens on YouTube. I found myself gravitating toward this album and had quite decided to order it later this month. Now your review has me thinking that I should listen a bit more perhaps?

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