Heavy psych squad Elder are gearing up to release their new album, Omens. A follow up to 2017's Reflections Of A Floating World, it's a concept album with an eerie real-world relevance right now – it'll all make sense once you listen.
Here, the band take us down the Omens rabbit hole one track at a time.
Lyrically, Omens sets the stage for the record, which is essentially a concept album about a civilisation in decline. It paints the picture of a society under a bad sign, with grand castles standing tall, yet overshadowed by dark looming clouds of change.
As so often happens with our records, the songs generally end up in the order in which they were written, and indeed the title track is the oldest song from the album. As such, it's probably got the most in common with previous records and is the most riff-heavy track. This song also dips into almost shoegaze and post-rock territory at times, especially during the ending build up.
The opening piano lead was originally conceived as a lead and leitmotif for the song, but during recording somehow it didn't fit. Fabio Cuomo, who joined us after basic tracking to put down keyboard tracks on the record, began jamming on the Moog and we ended up with the new tritone lead heard over the opening riff. It's a great example of how a song you think is finished for so long can suddenly be rewritten in the blink of an eye in the studio.
Originally intended to be the first song on the album as well as the album single, probably no other cut ended up put through so many changes as this one. The song is broken up in two halves, the first of which is a back and forth between classic Elder riffs and psychedelic verses, while the latter part builds from a sparse jam into a densely layered one, culminating in a groovy polyrhythmic finish. From a compositional standpoint, In Procession is quite simple for Elder's standards, and its overall character owes a bit to the jam-heavy nature of our 2019 EP The Gold And Silver Sessions. The song is quite upbeat and driving, lending energy to the lyrics, which describe a world always marching forward, always “in procession”. This is a reference to the progress upon which this fictional civilisation is founded – the need to always grow, consume and develop – but this march “in procession” can also be interpreted as a military or even funerary one. It hints that this progress will lead to downfall.
For such a long song, there are relatively few vocals, but the music really does the talking here. Halcyon is a song about the here and now – the moment before collapse, a last chance to grasp the beauty of this world. It's a sort of euphoric moment that lives in the freedom of a civilisation that has accepted its own death as inevitable. I've said in previous interviews elsewhere that Omens takes its time more than other Elder records, moving at a less frantic pace and letting parts develop organically, not with force. Nothing shows this better to me than the opening four minutes of Halcyon, which was one of several live jams we did in studio. Previous takes of this jam ran upwards of 10 minutes, which we determined would test the patience of even the biggest fans – we'll see what happens live! In my mind, Halcyon is the closest thing to Lore that we've yet made, because it really serves a function of a centrepiece both as the longest and most epic track on the record. Multiple listens will reveal many layers of guitars and keyboards, and even multiple drums at times. We had a lot of fun putting together this song as an overblown production. The final riff of the song is a kind of John Carpenter meets Goatsnake kind of thing – and it's certainly the riff of the album.
Despite the relatively upbeat tone of the song, Embers, as the title implies, describes a scene of a world burning out and fading away. This is probably the most different song that we've written yet, having more in common with alternative rock even than stoner rock or doom. You might say it's an example of what can happen if you don't pay too close attention to the genre that you've been put in. I remember finishing writing this song, going from halfway to complete in a single evening, which is almost unheard of for us. Embers could be composed quickly because we were swimming in uncharted waters and not concerned with the question of what sounds like Elder and not (we dubbed the outro part “the Pearl Jam riff”, because there's something undeniably 90s about it).
One Light Retreating
Just as Omens was the first song completed for the record, One Light Retreating was the last song we finished work on before going to the studio. With all of the ups and downs of the record, it felt to us that the record should close on a heavy hitter with some more monumental riffs. This is a classic Elder track with a few twists and turns that perfectly sums up the jump from our last LP to Omens, and the album's clean production shines especially in the protracted, spacey outro part.
As the curtain closes on our story, the lights of the world go out one by one, retreating into the darkness of night and space. However, as with all Elder albums, there is a strong element of hope. New green life grows on and in between the ruins of the world, and we see this is simply the beginning of a new cycle.
Omens is released on 25 April via Stickman Records and is available for preorder (opens in new tab) now