Produced, mixed and mastered at IgniteAMR Studio. Cover artwork by photographer John Cartwright.
Released on Meuse Music Records on Friday 3 February 2023.
For fans of Amorphis, Woods of Ypres, Anathema, Paradise Lost
“On the banks of the serene, silver river and in the shadow of the gnarled and knotted oaks that have borne witness to the passing of centuries. Below the broiling, tumbling clouds that race at the cold wind’s behest across the heavens and on the worn steps of stone that jut from the buttress cliffs, overhanging the assailing seas far below. Wherever my feet touch the earth I feel the threads of life that run back through eternity, connecting my soul to the beginning, binding my heart to the fox, the eagle, the raven and the mouse – every flickering candle of life that burns upon this island with me. They lift my ailing spirit in their claws, hold my head above the waters of grief that seek to drown me…”
Thus begins the press release for England’s melodic doom band Elderseer’s debut album Drown In The Shallowness (2023). Since their story began in Guildford, Surrey in 2017, Elderseer have infused their momentous, melodic doom metal with a deep rooted love for the natural world and a spiritual connection to ancient pagan beliefs. Their hearts lie far from the tumult and chaos, the greed and blind self-obsession of human society and their music is inspired by the empty spaces where wild nature clings with fading strength to a once beautiful world.
On my first listen, it immediately reminded me of the first time I heard Paradise Lost’s 1991 album Gothic. The songs are massive slabs of epic and majestic melancholy. “Gilded shackles” (track 1) opens the album with a slow, layered, melody that picks up to a riff that sits somewhere between later Celtic Frost and Candlemass. “Under a dark sky” (track 2) follows with another slow, mournful melody and gruff vocals. “This aesthetic life” (track 3) weaves a slow, mournful melody on piano with a songful guitar melody and pounding drums, and distorted vocals. While the walking-pace, sorrowful melody of “Drown in the shallowness of it all” (track 4) is complemented by the growled lead vocals.
In the press release “She is the ocean” (track 5) is described as “measured thunder”, although I found it be more like a gentle and unrelenting rumble. While “The world is your cloister” (track 6) is described as “deeply wounded” but actually sounds more like a sonic experiment in a thunderstorm.
“The struggle is ethereal” (track 7) has a fabulous, early Paradise Lost-esque opening riff that stops and starts. And album closer “Bind us as one” (track 8) is… well, another sorrowful wander through a landscape of solace for an aching heart.
As the press release concludes, “Elderseer stand watch through the setting of the sun, the starlit night and the breaking dawn – bearing witness to all that is lost”.
Elderseer’s songs are bound together seamlessly, united in their atmosphere of sorrow and otherness. Which on one hand creates a united work but on the other… it all sounds very same-y. One song flows into the next, while the following is reminiscent of the first. Maybe that is the shallowness that is referred to in the title. The result is a mournful soundscape that stretches for 68 minutes and I feel all the better for it.
Review score: 70%
Imperative PR contacted me inviting me to preview Elderseer’s forthcoming album, thank you. I have no connections to either Imperative PR or Elderseer. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Imperative PR, and to Elderseer for continuing to create fresh, exciting metal.