Elder W/ Ancestors, Earthmass and Cegvera
Audience members who turned up early to The Fleece in Bristol were treated to a varied heavy and ambient set by instrumental locals CEGVERA who commenced an epic night of psychedelic/prog dinged stoner doom. Having recently slimmed down to a two piece act after the loss of a bassist they still churn out thunderous drumming and head banging inducing riffs, the ebb and flow between creepy fuzzed out doom and haunting drone is pierced with the contrast of poignant dystopian political soundbites.
EARTHMASS brings an overall more stoner/psychedelic trippy vibe but before one gets to lost in the haze, sludgy riffs smash through the ethereal atmosphere. It’s a great balance heavy on the instrumentals peppered with soaring, heavy and occasionally light vocals, furious duelling guitars contrasted with crushing repetitive doomy bass-lines and crashing drums. Very reminiscent of KYLESA and CONAN in places (which for this reviewer was a great bonus) but with enough variety to make it a great journey of a set.
Formed in 2006 and having last been heard of in 2012, ANCESTORS are now touring their latest 2018 album Suspended in Reflections. This was a band that really take the crowd off on an epic adventure building up chugging repetitive riffs layered over a slightly groovy bassline and mixing in a bit f to end with bleak almost funeral tinged doom It’s a very anonymous affair with an unknown number of band members playing behind a screen of smoke and very minimal light barely even silhouettes are visible, (which made for terrible photos but amazing atmosphere! A projector shines across the audience onto the side wall but unfortunately offers no particularly engrossing visuals. However being thrust between devastating doom and uplifting ambient post hardcore. I’m kicking myself for not having come across Ancestors before but come away with a promise to listen more often and sad I can’t afford the vinyl!
It was an absolute pleasure to witness ELDER in an intimate venue. As they build in popularity there is no doubt this may become more of a rare occurrence and after playing the massive Roundhouse for Desertfest where it was brightly lit and the sound a little lost in the massive hall It’s a pleasure to see that this time it is louder, heavier, darker and much more intense. The whole performance is tighter and the audience are simply elated. They open with the less likely but heavier “Dead Roots Stirring” which has a great build up of low bass and twiddly psychedelic riffs that gets a lot of eager heads bobbing and feet tapping before Nick DiSalvo’s slightly more raw vocals kick in, the climactic finale of this 12 minute song evokes quite a visible sense euphoria visible over the audience with closed eyes and content “fuck yes” smiles. Following with sludgier “Spires Burn” was a bit of a jolt out the sleepy spell and throughout the set the sheer talent of these guys really shone. The die hard fans from the beginning were satiated with a lot of old material and when the anticipated first fe notes of “Sanctuary” rang out around the room there was loudly appreciated roar and the lyrics were inevitably enthusiastically yelled back, for this reviewer it was refreshing to focus on the breadth of their work rather than promote the newer but lighter “Reflections of a Floating World”. Overall it was a great balance of the slight sludginess with bass heaviness, more raw vocals and crashing drums from the old and the lighter uplifting feeling of complex progressive riffs with the new making them not too heavy, not too mellow but just right.