by Ethan Jaynes (@ethan_jaynes)
When Boston stoner rockers Elder released their first, self-titled record, many of their songs could have been mistaken for Sleep B-sides. Given Sleep’s near-godlike status in the genre, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. While their vocal deliveries were certainly similar, it was Elder’s massive sense of scale and thunderous rhythmic momentum that drew the most comparisons. Since then, Elder has used this trait as a backbone for every subsequent release, including Reflections of a Floating World. This isn’t to say that Elder hasn’t changed – in fact, it’s the changes they’ve made since their debut that have earned them a rightful spot in the critical spotlight.
Since their debut, Elder’s albums have gotten increasingly more lush and colorful. Reflections takes this to the next level, fully embracing the progressive rock and heavy psych monikers that differentiate them from so many of their peers. Each of the six songs on Reflections clocks in at around 10 minutes, and any given one is filled with gorgeous synth and string arrangements, wonky 70’s guitar noodling, and spacey atmospheric pads. This is not to downplay the importance of the sacred down-tuned, distorted guitar on this record – the musical core on songs like “Sanctuary” is still as ferociously stoner metal as it gets. Elder’s arguably disparate influences coalesce flawlessly on songs like “The Falling Veil,” a head-banger laden with proggy riffs, backed by a powerfully impressive drum performance, and delivered on a unique compositional framework reflective of the album as a whole.
More than anything, these songs feel and sound huge. This isn’t limited to just the music, either – Elder’s lyrics are as grand and fantastical as always. On album closer “Thousand Hands,” vocalist Nick DiSalvo belts “There stands an alabaster throne / Carved into halls where no light has shown / Reign of years before all time / Beyond the reach of celestial eyes”. DiSalvo’s lyrics can come off as a bit overly poetic and high-browed on paper, but the execution is incredibly catchy. In fact, Reflections is likely Elder’s most accessible record yet. Creating a record that can be equally loved by your Rush-loving dad and Bongzilla-loving roommate is certainly an enviable feat, and Elder has done just this with Reflections of a Floating World.