Elder launch into classic doom fire and brimstone on ‘Dead Roots Stirring’


I could use a trip into outer space about now. I hear I won’t be able to breathe there without some sort of apparatus. Sad. Floating uninhibited, without heavy machinery holding me down, sounds like the way to go. Science, you have failed us this time.

Luckily there’s an alternative right now, and no, I don’t mean those weird gravity machines or simulations. What fun is that, really? You’re in a box. Wheee! Instead, I mean I can have something to carry me there mentally. That’s why I often talk about music that has the ability to carry me away for a period of time, and certainly we all can agree that removing ourselves from our daily lives now and again can be a good thing.

This time, I’m rocketing into the stars with “Dead Roots Stirring,” the sophomore effort from classic doom trio Elder. But wait a second. It’s not just classic doom that Elder offer up on this great-sounding, five-track effort. There’s a healthy serving of stoner rock, blues, and classic heavy metal as well, making them a fine choice for anyone who’s way into labels such as Rise Above and Elder’s home MeteorCity, as well as bands such as Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Danava, Sleep and Kyuss. This is a crazy awesome guitar record, by the way, with riffs upon riffs, scorching lead lines, and exploratory noodling that never feels lazy or bloated despite the songs having lengthy running times. This is imaginative, exciting stuff, and it’s a crime if Elder doesn’t realize a higher profile once this record’s cycle is completed.

The Boston/New Bedford-based band – guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan, drummer Matt Couto – get right into things without hesitation on opener “Gemini,” a fuzzy, bluesy, punchy piece, with DiSalvo declaring, “I’m coming home/It’s been so long,” as the rest of the band peels off into dissonance. At one point, DiSalvo even breaks into a black metal-style guitar section that, instead of bubbling into hell, slides into a groove. The title track is a stirring, spiraling cut that never feels nearly as long as it is and is the epitome of stoner fire. There is some fiery guitar soloing that blows the doors off the thing, and eventually DiSalvo demands, “Let the waves consume my bones.” By the way, his vocals are far cleaner and spacious this time around, with very little grit and growl. It’s a refreshing change.

“III” is a nice, dusty, trippy instrumental number that doesn’t need words to make its point. It breathes easily and walks assuredly, and it leads into “The End,” the most aggressive song on the collection, but not one that’ll scare off those who think death metal is too extreme. It’s a heavy track for Elder, and it bubbles and bursts with color, eventually drowning out in a pocket of ambient noise. Closer “The Knot” is the one that’ll likely take listeners most directly back to the ’70s, as Tony Iommi and his Sabbath mates would be proud of this one. But beneath the murk and smoke is a cool, dexterous melody line that keeps popping up and pulling you willingly back into the fray. It’s one of those closing tracks that compel you to start the album all over again. Don’t resist as the temptation really is too much.

Funny thing is, while I took this record as a chance to imagine floating past stars, there’s just as much fire and brimstone that sounds inspired by the Earth’s formation and tumultuous history as well. The cosmic route is just how I absorbed this music, but one easily also could take this piece as a chance to imagine when volcanic fury built the mountains and landscapes and when long-extinct creatures roamed the planet. That’s part of the fun of a collection of this nature. It’s open-ended enough to let you have your own experience, and trust me, you will have one when taking on “Dead Roots Stirring.” This is a really powerful record from an up-and-coming band whose name deserves to be in the lexicon of doom and stoner metal fans everywhere.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.myspace.com/beholdtheelder

To buy “Dead Roots Stirring,” go here: http://www.allthatisheavy.com/info.asp?item_num=ATH-8699

For more on the label, go here: http://www.meteorcity.com/

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