Elder’s last album, Lore, finished pretty high on a lotta year-end lists a couple years back, and I suspect this one will as well. Although it was released back in June, I did not have the chance to get my hands on Reflections until I saw ‘em in concert last weekend—but if their live set is any indication, I was expecting good things before I even push play.
With the band being no stranger to epic tracks, there’s no song shorter than eight-and-a-half minutes on this one, a six-song, 64-minute affair. “Sanctuary” opens on a mellower, melodic note, sounding somewhat akin to Pallbearer, particularly in the soaring vocal department. But that’s not to say they’re derivative—while using a similar canvas, this outfit has an identity of its own, as evidenced by some of the meandering, melodic interludes that border on post-rock territory, and are certainly more psych than doom, with perhaps a bit of prog thrown in for good measure.
“The Falling Veil” is even more melodic and delicate in the beginning, setting a lighter, slightly ominous mood with pulsating bass and pedal-steel guitar. But that’s only for 90 seconds or so before the first riffs kicks in—although the guitar tones are notably bright and clean. This 11-minute number is mostly instrumental, and with a somewhat up-tempo approach, faintly reminiscent of Hawkwind. They even seem to throw in a string section around the eight-minute mark (although those could just be keys), adding a nice contrast to the pounding backbeat.
“Staving Off Truth” has another soothing, almost jazzy intro, but we’re hardly a minute in when they hit you with the riffs—some of the heaviest ones I’ve heard on this record. This tune kinda reminds me of Black Pyramid, albeit with some slightly lighter tones. But once again, there are some mellower, proggier passages on this tune that really set Elder apart from most bands in doom. “Blind,” the longest song on here (13:23) also hits hard with a rolling riff barrage right from the get go, before going all the way down to a piano/vocal verse within the first two minutes. However, from there we get a response with some heavy, doomy riffs that would make Leif Edling proud. Suffice to say, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the piano makes a reappearance past the four-minute mark ahead of a face-melting guitar solo. There are a couple more songs after this one, but “Blind” is definitely the magnum opus.