FAR-030 Elder "Reflect" LP/2xCD

Release date: November 17, 2009

01. Empty Lots
02. Niños
03. Evasion
04. Friendly Fire
05. Vultures
06. Remember These Days

Recorded, engineered, and mixed by Vince Ratti at The Skylight
Mastered by Bill Henderson at Azimuth Mastering February
Produced by Elder and Vince Ratti
Artwork by Mike Wohlberg for theFatKid! Illustration


Armando Morales - Bass, Vocals
Craig Woods - Guitar, Vocals
Drew Juergens - Drums


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Elder "Reflect" LP/2xCD

Diehard extreme music fans probably agree with us when we scream, yell and bitch from the watchtower about there being way too many fucking bands around these days. Not only that, but the underlying competition inherent in being an underground music fan - as in, hearing and having a sanctimonious opinion about every album six months before any of 'em are publicly available - has been made worse by downloading. Metalheads with OCD are suffering the most. When they're not carefully polishing each individual stud on their armbands, they're curled up in the fetal position because even they admit defeat: It's impossible to hear everything. With the market flooded, there are bound to be awesome bands falling through the crackers and Philadelphia's Elder could become on. OK, so they're not exactly metal, but it'd be a shame for those who genuflect for Envy, 400 Years, Fugazi and Majority Rule to miss out on Elder simply because of the enormity of their "to listen to" pile. Kids, make sure to hop on this wagon, because if it's the true sounds of '90s screamo that turn your crank - where hyper-angular guitar discord, skittering melodies and flowing dynamics rule the roost - then Reflect already has a proverbial and sympathetic case of tennis elbow. Sometimes, they'll pull a total '90s move and get too esoteric for their own good ("Niños" near-a cappella screaming...in Spanish?), but that little amount of meandering is reined in by the driving strength of "Evasion" and the slow burn of "Remember These Days." A bizarre side note: One of Elder's top 10 MySpace friends is Barack Obama. Should they be lobbying him for a taxpayer-funded No Band Left Behind program? -Kevin Stewart-Panko, Decibel Magazine

I wish I could tell you more about this band. I’m sitting here, trying to dredge up some background information that would explain the sound Elder has so neatly crafted on Reflect, but googling "Elder Reflect" currently only brings up blogs, sputnikmusic’s rating page, and a mediafire link. I suppose the ambiguity works for this band because it makes Reflect like a big secret waiting to be discovered by you kids with your hoodies and your Some Blood vinyls, because- and I’ll make this statement with full confidence- Reflect is the emotional hardcore album of 2009. It doesn’t achieve this status through sheen or clarity; Reflect doesn’t pull its influences from the shimmering post rock-tinged skramz of Envy or Sed Non Satiata, but rather the shoegazing distorted take of Mesa Verde. The album hides frustration and doubt under a haze of drone and reverb, which makes Reflect a surprisingly chill affair. Quotes from those aforementioned blogs include lines like "the chillest band one could consider ‘Screamo’ i have ever encountered." This isn’t really a stretch. Elder’s sound is completely engulfing, like a shoegaze take on emo. This isn’t to say Reflect lacks passion- passion is still there, it’s just buried underneath the fury developed by the wave of the instruments. It keeps Reflect shrouded; every time it feels like we can latch on to something clear and straightforward, Elder negates it by either maximizing the chaos or removing the tension completely. The closest insight Reflect offers as to who Elder actually are is on "Niños," where one can barely make out screams of "This world’s not big enough. Where’s your peace? Where’s your prosperity?" under a climactic swell of guitars that render the cries of secondary importance to the atmosphere. Elder does this pretty consistently throughout Reflect; with the primal screams dropped low in the mix and doubled or tripled, they turn into hazy incoherent shouts that provide the support for the air of sadness purveying throughout even Elder’s most intense passages. While this leads the album to leave impressions rather than memories, it does keep Reflect remarkably focused. The album sounds absolutely unified, with each of its six tracks vital to its direction. Short fiery bursts like "Evasion" and "Vultures" lack the depth of the album’s epics, but more than compensate by sounding completely unleashed out of hell. They shout and scream with intensity that remembers pg.99 and Gospel, but they are quickly hushed by Elder’s deft skill at temperance. There’s definitely a furious, chaotic album in Reflect, but Elder want no part of it. Instead they tease with violence only to kill it with brooding ostinato endings or droning passages. Both "Friendly Fire" and "Remember These Days," the album’s opuses, start off as furious punk anthems that hint a disgusted rage before ultimately submitting to calm, triumphant riffs that relax the tension. It makes Reflect leave an impression of despair, as if even the most fervent cry is lost in the constant drone of normalcy. It helps that Reflect is disgustingly quick. At a brief six tracks, Reflect doesn’t blow up its importance or stretch beyond what’s absolutely required of it, but make no mistake: it is the perfect length. Should the album have been any longer, it would probably have started to feel drawn out, any shorter and it would feel slight. Reflect is a succinct work of emotional hardcore that arrives, says its peace and leaves a bewildered but whole hearted "Fuck Yeah" in its wake. Even if Elder aren’t as polished as some of their contemporaries whom they so obviously wish to be associated with (check out the As the Roots Undo homage in "Remember These Days"), Reflect is a stellar little gem from another solid American skramz band. They should enjoy the ambiguity they have now; should they flesh out and ever put out a record of the same quality as Reflect with enough material to garner mass attention, Elder could well reach that upper echelon of skramz dominated right now by Europeans and bookworm Georgians. Till then, they will be our little secret. sputnikmusic.com

I've seen the name Elder in passing a couple of times, usually in connection with critical acclaim, but I've never checked them out before their new EP Reflect landed in our mailbox a little while ago. Members of Balboa and Towers make up the trio, and although I've never heard of Balboa, Towers is another name that I recall connecting to high praise on several different websites. Based on Reflect alone, however, I'm beginning to understand just why a buzz is starting to build underneath these guys. Remember the spacious-yet-intense atmosphere omnipresent on the Thursday / Envy split? Elder take the gray feeling of despair from that record, throw in some melodic post-hardcore in the vein of Small Brown Bike, and finish things off with plenty of chaos-hardcore learned from masters Converge and, partly, United Nations. How's that for a name drop? There are an infinite number of possibilities in which such a mix will go wrong, but Elder handle their influences masterfully by compressing their chaos into a single compact, intensified unit that, on at least "Niños", is also capable of extending into Envy-like colossal post-hardcore landscapes. The result is paradoxical, because on one hand the band goes through chaotic passages that wouldn't feel out of place on Converge's "No Heroes", but yet they're able to extract surprisingly calm and beautiful sections from the expression without the feeling of incoherency. This is highlighted especially at the end of "Remember These Days", but also on the brilliant "Friendly Fire" which works the quiet/loud dynamic to near-perfection. Now had all the songs contrasted the melodic guitars and the strained vocals in the same way, there's just no way I could avoid rating "Reflect EP" among the very best recordings produced this year. But while "Evasion" is a great track on its own as well, the reality of the situation is that "Friendly Fire" is such an amazing listen that it inevitably leaves others in its shadow. The mood on the entire EP is that of despair and desperation, which is quite interesting considering Elder's own words that the record's lyrics reflect on the past life experiences of the band members. They must've lived through some rather turbulent times, but then again, some of the best albums throughout history have been written as a result of an intense conflict of emotion between the composer(s) and other individuals/the world. Think At The Drive-In's "Relationship Of Command" as one example. As such, we may only hope that the force which is tearing Elder's hearts apart and inspiring them to write such awesome, emotional music doesn't end in a tension that splits the band. [7½]. rockfreaks.net



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