Elder unload ambitious journey, create escape to another plane with prog-fueled opus ‘Omens’

Photo by Anait Sagoyan

What a weird time to be alive, and that’s something that we’re probably going to keep saying for a while. So, I feel kind of monotonous that I keep talking about escapism as of late, but really, it’s something so many of us need as our lives become something we never could have imagined. To get out, even if only in our head, has become necessary in order to take a normal breath.

With all of that in mind, back comes progressive powerhouse Elder with another collection of spiraling epics to take us on breathtaking adventures into the unknown. Their latest is “Omens,” their first in three years and the first with their new lineup, and the expansive five-track, nearly 56-minute collection is as expansive and massive as anything in this band’s catalog. Imagined as a concept piece about the lifespan of a civilization, the music visits elements of doom and psychedelia over songs that make your mind wander and wonder as they pick through themes of bleakness and despair. It’s an adventure that’s not free from conflict, because how compelling would one be without that? Instead, the band—vocalist/guitarist/keyboard player Nick DiSalvo, guitarist/keyboard player Mike Risberg, bassist Jack Donovan, and drummer Georg Edert—blast you through all the highs and lows and everything that’s packed in between as they immerse you in their story.

The title track starts the record, running 10:52, as keys trace the sky, guitars warm up, and the trip begins. The pace is strong, as are the vocals, which are an album highlight, and then it’s into psychedelic waters that come up to your chest. The playing lands punches as the keys zap, and later, an orchestral glaze mixes into the low end before the leads take control again. From there, the pace ruptures and blood bubbles before the track comes to a smothering end. “In Procession” is the shortest track at 9:53, and guitars slowly awaken as steady singing and melting keys enter the fray. The track opens and begins to punch harder, catching fire before more solemn playing cools the temperature, and the music swims into a sea of proggy keys. Singing kicks back in as the leads tangle, picking up speed before meeting up with an acoustic bath at the end.

“Halcyon” is the longest cut here, running 12:48 and getting started with a synth haze that slowly extends its reach. The track slowly opens into a sci-fi-style backdrop before a psychedelic stretch reaches, and vocals enter around about five and a half minutes into this track. “Raining down on me, I can feel the Earth,” DiSalvo calls while proggy synth fires up, sometimes resembling the Moody Blues’ elegance. Guitars return to rustle while the song continues its surge into distant galaxies. “Embers” kicks off with riffs that feel Southern rock inspired before synth guides, and the pace exudes catchiness. “Seeing with the eyes of an animal backed against a wall,” DiSalvo warns before the track chews into its proggy center, and leads swirl into a loop. Things change up, but the intensity remains, while keys mix into the waters for one glorious final push. “One Light Retreating” ends the album, an 11:13-long trip that trickles open and sets up its ambiance as DiSalvo laments about, “One last shot to say goodbye.” A psyche chill follows that before the song opens back up again, and thick keys coat the terrain. Soloing catches fire while everything comes to a head in space, turning rock into liquid, warping melodies, and ending our adventure on a plane far from our own.

Locking yourself into a book or a series or a record is a great way to get your mind off things that will twist you into an anxious pretzel, and definitely we can count Elder’s “Omens” as another one of those things that’ll carry you away. The playing is ambitious and passionate, and these songs, as lengthy as they are, never feel like they’re hanging around too long. This is another rock-solid building block for a band that always puts imagination and creativity first when blasting out another enthralling opus.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/elderofficial

To buy the album, go here: https://armageddonlabel.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/armageddonlabel

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