Every so often, an album comes out of nowhere and truck sticks you into next Tuesday. Elder’s 2015 opus Lore did that for me. Their complex brand of New England stoner metal featured the right amount of proggy psych stylings to land in my personal Top Ten.1 Lore has been a constant friend these last two years, and I expected that topping it would be tough, given its lofty heights and incredible riffcraft. Leave it to Reflections of a Floating World to prove me so incredibly wrong.

Relative stagnation held Lore back, resulting in an album a tad too long for its own good. If Reflections were to top Lore, I thought naively, it would require tamping down the material into a tighter package. Good thing Elder didn’t ask my opinion, because Reflections improves on Lore in every way and clocks in five minutes longer. Whereas its predecessor crunched and bit and grooved, Reflections just… flows. Songs often feature several distinct movements, their progressive trappings defying structure without feeling aimless. Opener “Sanctuary” eases the listener in via these familiar waters. Its crunchy Pallbearer doom is as close as we will come to a consistent connection with the past. Elder’s amorphous riff evolutions return, but, like an old pro, now require less space and time to succeed. Nick DiSalvo’s vocals drop out for long stretches, heightening the impact of the fluid instrumentation. Nothing feels recycled, no moment wasted as “Sanctuary” unfurls. The quintet guides you through soulful solos and anxious shreds and a permanent brightness as the track shifts and shifts and shifts again.

Following an elongated warm-up, “The Falling Veil” sees Elder’s incandescent riffing tilt toward Baroness. While Reflections succeeds in part because of these long-winded spindles, I cannot shake the feeling that occasions like the aforementioned warm-up could be shortened or excised without the album losing too much. The Kyuss-inspired “Staving Off Truth” suffers no such problem. The success of its introductory breeziness, ephemeral and brief, is matched only by the album-highlight build on its back half. However, Reflections’ main draw lies in its progressive exploration, with “Blind” glittering as Elder’s crown jewel. The track bounces between moments of forced recall as diverse as The Smiths and Nirvana, but always engendered with the weight of Sleep and an ethereal keyboard undercurrent. Its constant exploration and progression tickle my music sensibilities in places I didn’t even know I had.

Follow-up “Sonntag” spends most of its time in the underground, accompanied by a buzzing bass and staccato electronic beats, puzzled by the ever-ascending nature of its own existence. Over the course of eight minutes, the track slowly builds upon the quiet space that Elder usually deploys to manage potential pacing issues. Conversely, “Thousand Hands” closes the album with a track that is, dare I say, straightforward. Evoking Kvelertak, it amps Reflections’ brightness up to 11 and meshes stoner metal and poppy chord nuggets into utter replayability. The direction plays off the forever-build of “Sonntag” so well that one of my only gripes with the record is a desire to see “Sonntag” launch right into “Thousand Hands,” rather than fade to black.

Recognizing the difficulties in orchestrating their multi-faceted masterpiece, Elder welcomed new member Mike Risberg and session musician Mike Samos on to flesh the record out with additional layers of guitars, keys, and pedal steel. The individual performances are a tour-de-force, often perfectly balanced with no noticeable sore spots. DiSanto knows just where to toe the line to let his voice do its work without infringing on his expanding galaxy of riffs. However, his timbre occasionally finds itself at odds with the course of the music and could use more punch in some areas. Likewise, the production on the quiet end is excellent – essential given how much time is spent down there – but Reflections’ peaks could use some of that same spacious touch.

Typically, my album notes quickly hit aspects of each song – style, placement, moments worth mention – twenty-five words tops, just enough to ease the writing process. The word count for Reflections’ entry checks in at 165… for the first track. That alone should demonstrate both how smitten I am with this act and how much Elder brings to the table. This is the rare album where every single listen has something new in store, something bold and worthy of admiration. As far as I’m concerned, Reflections of a Floating World is 2017’s pace-setter. Everyone else better get in line.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: EU: Stickman Records | NA: Armageddon Label
Websites: beholdtheelder.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/elderofficial
Releases Worldwide: June 2nd, 2017

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  1. The archives of Angry Metal Wvrm will remain shuttered due to pending trademark litigation.

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  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Really stoked for this!
    Lore was , in my mind , far superior to the middling latest effort by Pallbearer.
    Although a slight fader boost to the vox would make it even better.

    • Hellion Sword

      Why compare the two?
      Vastly different style and content.
      (Pallbearer is the most bland eve anyways IMO)

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Not that different. …doomy riff driven songs with melodic tenor vocals pushed back in the mix.
        I agree pallbearer are much more bland.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    This is a rare example of a band who only receives hate from people who don’t actually like music. I don’t think you can like music and dislike Elder. This album is absolute gold; fantastic review kind sir.

    • El_Cuervo

      and then there’s me who just doesn’t get the hype, even remotely

      • die

        • El_Cuervo

          *sobs over complete Alestorm discography printed on vinyl with custom artwork over 11 screen gatefold*

          • Sean Sky

            God damn you! Damn you to hell!

          • Hellion Sword

            POSER. ALESTORM ISN?T GOOD

          • steamed hams

            lol well that explains it all then. Alestorm is utterly awful.

        • John

          Hahaha

      • What? There’s a hype? Never heard of this band.
        It’s pretty okay, though, even if it’s not entirely up my alley. Very listenable in fact, even though I’m not placing an order.

        • El_Cuervo

          Look up their last album. It featured on many lists for 2015. I can’t imagine this one will feature on fewer.

          • Pimpolho

            I also don’t get the hype for that album, but this one has really changed my opinion about the band.

          • Shawn Cypher

            The last one got a little guitar noodly for my tastes at points. It was still good but I always felt that was the low point.

    • h_f_m

      Agreed. I fell in love with that embedded track.

    • Gaslighting POTUS

      Good point. My fiance and brother in law – who have no love for metal specifically, but listen to anything – love love love Elder. Going to light up tonight and have a listening party.

    • chris

      Its just fucking brilliant.
      Despite some repetitive sections.
      Then they just explode into another amazing piece of musical mastery.

  • Westpaceagle

    This one caught everyone off guard I think. One of the few really good surprises over the past year.

  • Wes Allen

    Picked up Lore on a complete whim and loved it. Didn’t even know this was coming out. Thanks for the review!

  • John

    Been looking forward to this review for a long time. Lore still gets heavy playtime. Nice review.

  • Frost15

    This album will be on many top 10 lists at the end of the year, mark my words…

    • Frost15

      My AOTY as of today, another incredible masterpiece by these lads

  • Dethjesta

    This blew me away when I listened to it for the first time this morning. Great record, great review.

  • Bryan Barkman

    Really enjoyed the embedded track. The vocals seem like an afterthought, but I’m not sure that’s really a complaint. Feels like a hybrid of Rush, Mastodon and their own thing. This goes onto my spotify and e-music wish list for sure.

  • Eli Valcik

    I got thr vinyl. Hahahaha! Super happy.

    • Frost15

      Same.

  • Pauline Zipzer

    This one made all my bits grow.

  • I’m enjoying listening to this repeatedly, because I also pick up something new every time. Those are the best albums, the ones you cannot digest completely in one sitting.

  • Zver

    Finally a deserved review for this legendary musical act… Definitely the most fresh and dynamic songwriting we’re going to hear throughout the whole year.!!! Thanks for review…

  • naoto

    Stoner, heavy psych, progressive… Who cares? This is just hours and hours of pure, raw happiness. That’s what music is meant to. Support these guys.

  • rumour_control

    “The success of its introductory breeziness, ephemeral and brief, is matched only by the album-highlight build on its back half.” — Solid.

  • Can’t wait for the vinyl to arrive. This one I’m really looking forward to!

    • Duane

      Got the vinyl today, it sounds incredible on my vintage system.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    It doesn’t impress much saying that “an album comes out of nowhere and truck sticks you into next Tuesday” when you’re reading the review on Monday. ;)

    • DGG.889D

      (Maybe you won’t see the following if it’s posted in the proper place.) Many Indians have had so much English without ever leaving their country that applying an ESL perspective to them is a non sequitur. As someone who grew up in Tennessee, my reaction to “Plague Throat” is that it follows a neological pattern that is quite familiar, and it’s a pattern that is less sloppy than the well-accepted term “strep throat” (which comes from “streptococcal throat”).

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Well, I couldn’t really tell what a “Plague Throat” is… But I would have never thought it is the same thing as a strep throat.

        • DGG.889D

          I haven’t studied that album’s lyrics yet, but I have been assuming the two terms have different meanings. I’m not aware of anybody thinking they were the same thing– certainly there’s nothing in my words that implied they were the same.

  • Jrod1983

    I’ve been listening to this so much in the last few days, and I have to say I love it as much as Lore already.
    Easily one of my favorites this year so far.

  • Christopher Jones

    I wasn’t even aware this was coming out. Just ordered the LP from Stickman

  • Gage

    This does nothing for me. It’s not bad. But I would only listen to it as background music.

  • Corbin Deutsch

    Everytime I put on Elder, I end up wanting Khemmis.

    • Absolomb

      Put that the other way round and I’m with you.

      • Nag Dammit

        Yeah, vocals are much better on Elder and the leads have that Brent Hinds craziness that blew me away on ‘Crack the Skye’. I really like Khemmis but Elders prog leanings mean they offer a bit more to the patient listener. Hence why I feel I will revisit this much more than I have ‘Hunted’.

    • Every time I put on *insert band name here* I end up wanting Khemmis.

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but this is definitely gonna end up on my year end list lol.

  • Spread Wide & Panic

    This is my Album of the Year and it doesn’t really matter what’s released from now until then anyway.

  • Nate Sweet

    Enjoyable but it’s the type of music I feel like I’ve heard a thousand times. The talent is undeniable and the songs are well written but it just lacks that something special to really make these guys stand out from the modern psychedelic/stoner crowd imho. That isn’t to say I’m not digging any of this though because these songs really have interesting grooves (I write this as I am listening to Sonntag) and headbangable moments.

    TLDR Local Boston band to go see woo!

    • Bryan Stroup

      I really enjoyed their previous album, yet this isn’t doing anything at all for me. Most of the songs just tend to blend into one another and they go on entirely way too long. As in, most of them seem ridiculously bloated, repeating the same bars over and over again just to pad out the time.

  • GardensTale

    The embedded track sounds fucking awesome! The intro reminded me of a desert version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond

    • Dr. Wvrm

      You are the second person I’ve heard say that today.

    • By-tor

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so. Thought I was a little crazy when that crossed my mind.

    • TheCurlyMetalhead

      yeah I really felt that Floyd influence :D

  • Absolomb

    Elder are at the joint top of all the doom releases we’ve had this year, and they’re in good company next to Loss.

    They’ve done what Pallbearer were aiming for, an album that just flows and works surprisingly well.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    It’s no Alestorm.

    • By-tor

      Thank God.

  • beurbs

    Anyone know if/when the vinyl is happening? I’d love to know what this actually sounds like. Per Spotify, it’s really pretty but my ears are bleeding 3 tracks in.

    • Name’s Dalton

      My copy arrived today. However, since a baby is arriving in/around 8 weeks, my turntable area has now become a baby changing station. And that’s alright by me.

      • Mollusc

        Might be a bit challenging changing him/her at 78rpm… Seriously though, hope it all goes well!

    • Spread Wide & Panic

      multiple vinyl copies were up for pre-order more than 1 month ago, and to the best of my knowledge are long sold out. I’m sure there will be future pressings though.

    • I pre-ordered the mint-green vinyl. I got it June 1st, (a day early) for some reason. Hasn’t left my turntable since; the bass sounds fantastic compared to digital.
      They’ll have pressings later, I’d recommend you grab one!

  • rumour_control

    This is the essence of 5.

  • By-tor

    Agreed on all points. AOTY to this point. Going to take something massive to dislodge this one for me.

  • Name’s Dalton

    Welp, looks like that’s a wrap for June’s AOTM. Front runner for AOTY.

    Lore floored me. This is expounding upon that album, and I wasn’t sure they could do it, simply because Lore had all the markings of a masterpiece.

  • Fantastic review, couldn’t agree more! Album of the Year for now!

  • foreverAlfon

    Dude this sure rocks

  • Mollusc

    First standout for me was the mellotrons coming in under the solo on first track. Music definitely sounds a greeny colour like the front cover.

  • Baltech

    Been following them ever since their first and the development has been fascinating. While Lore was great in this own right, they seemed to have lost a bit of the focus of Dead Roots Stirring. That’s back now, without sacrificing the sprawl that Lore brought to the sound. And they make it seem so effortless. Are they, like, literal Wizards?

    • thiR

      I strongly agree. Dead roots stirring was amazing. Lore was good but a bit too “noodly” here and there. This record however is just the best of both (floating) worlds!

  • ssorg

    This is so much like And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead in really weird and sideways sorta way. Like a cousin who looks just like you when he eats a hot pepper.

    • ssorg

      Hm… I take that back. maybe just the second song.

      • ssorg

        I partially take back my take-back. Doesn’t matter, first listen suggests this album doesn’t half rip

  • TheCurlyMetalhead

    Wasn’t aware Elder released another LP, this sounds super good so far, will never forget the Mastodon-y thundering opener on Lore, that got me hooked instantly

  • Ok, I’ve turned the embedded track on and a couple minutes later, while the extended solo section in “Blind” is running through my headphones, I can say that I’m deeply fascinated.
    Big thanks for the prescription, Dr.

  • Kryopsis

    I admit to be largely indifferent to Psychedelic Rock and Stoner Metal but I just can’t resist this album. The individual songs are so groovy and hypnotic, it’s actually hard to reconcile with the fact that most tracks on the album are over 10 minutes in length. While hardly minimalist, the music invokes something greater and far more loosely defined and while I occasionally stumble into Rush influences, this is the kind of Rush I reckon I’d like. In one word, this album is magical!

  • Lee

    I’m late to this party man but had to let this one sink in and it just won’t let me go. So immediate and yet complex enough to be a grower. Love the Rush, Yes, Mastodon, Baroness, etc. Thanks AMG!

    • Matt Vogt

      While I’m ok with those comparisons, the predecessor band Elder most bring to mind for me is Led Zeppelin. It seems I’m alone there, though, as nobody else raises that as their touchstone…

      • Lee

        My ear’s to the ground but not getting Zeppelin. I will say that Solstafir is all over the quieter parts. Chk out the beginning of Blind

      • Ceri Beynon

        Upon hearing the embedded track I immediately thought of The Rain Song and The Song Remains the Same and listening to it now I still do. So you’re not alone. I think I need to acquire this.

  • Twisted

    That embedded track was a hell of a lot of fun. Going to check the rest of this out for sure. Great review, thank you for bringing this to my attention!

  • Panagiotis Krokidas

    That is what I call boring for the sake of style, music.

  • Chris Benadie

    This thing is a monster

  • Richard Bendall

    Fantastic album; never found a band who can hold my attention for so long with such self-indulgent music. Not sure if it will top Lore but Lore was a grower for me anyway so we’ll see.

    That whole section from 8:58 in ‘Sanctuary’ is just incredible.

  • Lee

    So I’ve been listening to this fo over a week now and I think I’m more excited to press play now than then. Last Wilderun didn’t hit me this hard. I mean I buy as much metal as anyone and my attention span sucks but damn……….agree with Richard. This is something special.

    • Shawn Cypher

      I felt the same about Wilderun actually. I bought it due to the reviews on here — and then many months later I actually listened to it and started to enjoy it a lot. Probably not my AOTY, but still darn good.

  • Shawn Cypher

    This better be Record of the Month! I’m coming back now to comment that I’ve listened to this like 30 fucking times since it came out and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve even started (carefully) recommending it to a few friends.