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Omens Tom Coles , June 10th, 2020 08:43

Elder push stoner rock into new territories on Omens, finds Tom Coles

Elder, detailed and gorgeous, have long been standard bearers for a modern take on proggy stoner rock. Previously flitting between lush dreamscapes and fuzzy riffs, their new outing explores a little more of their voice and a wider range of moods, bringing less thunder and shedding more light on the bubbles under the surface.

Clearer and trippier, Omens dials back the volume to let some explorative synths rise to the forefront. As a result, some of it feels a little dated and some of it is sort of timeless, switching between 60s BBC space noises and warm, searching tones. Ideas-heavy, the guitars are hard at work, creating a web of layered notes; tracks are both busy and dreamy, smooth and active, the guitars sprawling and noodling through intricate passages, riffs fluttering and decaying. A kind of nebulous nostalgia is part of the patchwork that makes up their sound; they avoid sounding kitschy when this is balanced with the warm modern production.

For all the thunder, which they're very comfortable with, the real gold is when they hold back; the record is in no rush to get to the heavy moments, managing to keep momentum through synth pulses and the low, understated throb of the drums. In doing so they embrace a palette that modern metal doesn't use as much, and by around the halfway point the ideas coalesce into a deep, brooding mood, which unfolds to be contemplative, reserved, and delicate.

The record's broad emotional spectrum means it's harder to get to grips with them, but there's a lot of joy to be had in something so mercurial. It's immediately comparable to both the soporific Elephant Tree and the lugubrious Pallbearer, but it tends towards exciting and explorative, which suits both their doomy and dreamy modes.

There's a wider point to be made about stoner doom evolving past just being satisfying, which Elder clearly do here. But for anyone coming at this blind, Elder have crafted a lush and carefully-orchestrated record, approaching from a different angle than their peers, or indeed their previous attempts.