Riffs. Everywhere. Gigantic thick distorted riffs. Help me mother, the riffs are here, and they want fresh plasma and bone marrow. ‘White Walls’ kicks off with low and grumbling bass, then the power-riffing starts. Fabulous stuff. Massachusetts three piece Elder really sock out some serious power: a rock solid rhythm section with an arse of iron plus furious guitar-work – dexterous steroid riffs and bluesy licks popping all over the place. Guitarist Nick DiSalvo’s vocals are cool too, kind of stoned and lazy, yet gruff and gritty, lending Elder’s sound a very classic stoner rock feel. Yet there is more to this band than just labels – halfway through the first track there is change, and I’m suddenly listening to something different and more progressive, the guitar weaving melodic lines above rising synths.
‘Hexe’ is a lumbering prehistoric mammal with brain damage. Nick roars out “I am the witch, that controls your movements”. Cracking line. Particularly when bellowed out of the fetid gob of a hairy stoner – although he may have a freshly shaven head and no facial hair whatsoever, I simply don’t know. Elder are particularly adept at tempo changes, so adept in fact that they recall some of the dynamic might of early Metallica, before they completely lost their muse. Praise indeed. Hey up youth, there’s a smattering of acoustic guitar noodling here! Blimey. Yes, I see Elder are going for a fully rounded classic rock/metal sound, and they are getting there. ‘Ghost Head’ has more than a hint of Helmet about it, like something off the magnificent ‘Betty’. As expected, it morphs into something faster and spacier, the majestic guitar always lifting the sound into the heavens.
The last two tracks, ‘Riddle of Steel Part I’ and ‘Riddle of Steel Part II’ are huge riff-riddled juggernauts of metal. Nick sounds a bit like Lemmy in places, which is always a fine thing, and his guitar soars and spirals above the incessant precision of Jack Donovan and Matt Couto’s workmanlike rhythms. Verdict: a really good album from a seriously talented outfit. Hard to digest all in one go though; I found I started to suffer from ‘riff fatigue’, where all the assembled riffs started to merge and sound pretty much the same. Maybe I just need to listen to the album more. I’ll stick it on my ipod – always a good method of allowing an album to ‘sink in’ properly. One little area for improvement – I think Elder need to develop their actual song writing a bit, an often neglected dimension that actually makes all the difference between good and great, otherwise they are in danger of just sounding like an oblique and angular riff generator, as opposed to Black Pyramid, a similar band who have really nailed it well. Anyway, critique aside, I would love to see them over here, maybe touring with Queen Elephantine. The two bands would nicely compliment each others sound. Thumbs up for ‘Elder’. Order a copy and overdose on the riff machine.
Scribed by: Adam Stone