ELDER  Spires Burn / Release (2022 BLUE MARBLE VINYL)  12"   (Armageddon)   17.99

The latest repress circa 2022, on blue marble vinyl.

Elder's latest slab of swirling downbeat metal follows up their Dead Roots Stirring album with a two-song ascent into more atmospheric territory. Released on vinyl only, the record begins with "Spires Burn", a slow-burning epic with all of the ingredients that make Elder one of the best current doom bands here in the States: those clear, powerful vocals that mesh perfectly with the soaring psychedelic leads and triumphant riffage so imbued with an aura of classic heavy metal; the sudden pitches into seriously-dark Sabbathian creep that the band contrasts with their slightly sunnier, more fist-raising anthemic moments; the swirling space-rock effects that come sweeping over the burning towers and scorched wastelands alluded to in the lyrics; and of course, the absolutely crushing riffage that evokes the meditative bulldozer crush of Sleep. And this song is some of the most rocking stuff I've ever heard from these guys, with some moves into grungy, shoegazy textures toward the end that sort of reminds me of a much heavier Smashing Pumpkins riff.

Then there's the beginning to the second side, where "Release" opens up with an amazing melodic intro that's all cascading clean guitars and dreamy, chiming melody - its goddamn fantastic. This swirling melody works its way into the main part of the song as the whole band locks into this killer Kyuss-esque psych-crush that's equal parts soaring, occult-tinged rock and pulverizing Sabbathian low-end, the guitars spinning out these killer melodic leads later in the song that fall somewhere between Josh Homme and J. Mascis. Elder have never sounded so accessible as they do here, but it's simply based on the strength of the songwriting, definitely a big step up from their debut album. The doom is still in here, its just skillfully contrasted with a dark jangly rock sound that comes together just about perfectly on this record. One of the best new doom releases for 2012 alongside the new Pallbearer album.