Elder are a three piece from Boston, they play a heavy brand of stoner rock whilst keeping their influences no secret. They were just teenagers when their self titled debut was released in 2008, a very solid effort indeed. But the immaturity with regards to song-writing and their stylistic levity was, perhaps a little too evident. In other words it sounded too regurgitated, too similar to everything else. Too much like Sleep. The band is influenced by the likes of Kyuss, Sleep, Sabbath, Vitus and Wizard, which is smashing, but they showed them far too much respect, instead of forging their own path.
2011’s Dead Roots Stirring, however, shows a new level of maturity, the transitions between passages, especially those stark in contrast are smoother and more professional. The vocals show a level of musical awareness not previously heard on the self titled, this record has great lyrical content sung with subtleties in mind. For example, there’s a vocal melody on ‘Knot’ which interplays brilliantly with the guitar part and is phenomenally catchy and actually quite moving, it is a song that would stand on its own taken out of the context of its niche. The album opener, ‘Gemini’ is a very Kyuss inspired white-knuckle driving tune, inspired, yes, but without falling into their old trap of sounding almost identical to whichever influence in question.
The record displays an abundance of serious musical exploration, but not without a price. The band must compensate by losing much of the crushing heaviness seen on the self titled.
Dead Roots Stirring is not as ruthlessly down-tuned as the last album and it’s better for it, it’s not cumbersome. It shows a positive and necessary progression and there was never any doubt that Elder had potential. Keep a sharp eye on this lot. When you compare them to some of their contemporaries, for instance Black Pyramid, who they toured with recently, then you can start to see this potential being fulfilled. Black Pyramid’s shoddy new album is made a real mockery of here. Whoever said anything about respecting your elders?