Elder / Omens – psych prog rockers expand their ever evolving sound

In 2018 Elder spoke of Reflections of a Floating World as the culmination of a “linear progression” across a decade-long career, and the following year’s Gold and Silver Sessions had the sound of a group who’d found stability enough to try something lighter, less bound to their established territory. When Nick DiSalvo’s clarion cry opens for the first time on Omens’ eponymous first track, it’s a tone of triumph buoyed by the band’s signature mix of warm tones, constantly shifting textures and big fuzzes. Never content to hang on one idea for too long, we’re buffeted towards a terrific cascade of riffage at its end, leading to similar at the beginning of second cut ‘In Procession’ before it clears into a keyboard-led prog’n’crawl opus. The range of genres covered and the continual interplay of clean grooves (for chillin’) and heavy ones (for ragin’) is just breathtaking here. ‘Halcyon’ is perhaps the closest in style to Gold and Silver with its down-tempo, insistent psych groove and post-rockish build across its first four minutes, before once again giving the beasts in us what we always desire – open power chords and headbanging, with excellent keyboard lines in counterpoint.

In our current fraught moment of limbo the poignancy of Elder’s compositions and lyrics is startling; “What is it you want?/Consuming every thought” on heaviest track ‘Embers’ could just as well be aimed at COVID-19 itself, it being a virus that aggressively invades our thoughts and behaviours through mimesis, as well as through social policies and actual infection. However, the band has landed feet-first on this record and although there’s clearly darkness abounding in some sections, overall we’re hearing the comforting sound of eventual victory over They In Power on Omens, with closing track ‘One Light Retreating’ feeling as the close embrace that signifies the end of a struggle. They’ve never been a band to deny us the sonic equivalent of a gorgeous sunrise even as they depict and reflect such troubled times, and here we’re given constant reassurance that we (and they) still have bounteous years in store. May their sun never set.

Omens is out 24th April via Stickman Records and can be purchased here.

Words: David Burke

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