ELDER – Bergen – Hulen
Following a downright terrible week at work it was a blessing to spend a few hours at one of my favorite venues in Bergen, namely Hulen, in the company of three US bands who were all totally different to one another and yet perfectly compatible at the same time. It was nice to see that so many defied the heavy rains and actually came to the show to support the bands.
Carousel, a band from Pittsburgh, was the opening act and was quite decent without being fantastic or awesome. They were solid, and their music was primarily rooted in 70s- and early 80s-inspired hard rock and heavy metal. Thin Lizzy, Mountain, Led Zeppelin, and Motörhead all came to mind, but the music was neither as refined nor elegant as Thin Lizzy or as raw, heavy, and punchy as Motörhead, for instance. Despite the fact that none of the members had a lot of charisma or presence, they played well, and at times there was this loose and cool vibe to the whole thing that really appealed to me, especially during the last song of their set, the one entitled "2113".
Mondo Drag, a 5-piece from Oakland, were a real treat to behold and listen to. Man, these guys were fucking awesome. Psychedelic and somewhat doomy music that one could easily lose oneself in, and I did indeed lose myself in their wonderfully dreamy and melancholic soundscapes. It was highly atmospheric, kind of like the best parts of Yes, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rainbow, and Pentagram all woven together. A true quality soundtrack to something otherworldly. Dynamic, organic, and unpredictable stuff. Fucking awesome!
Elder, the trio from Boston, simply ruled and were fucking impressive to listen to. At times it was unfathomable that three guys could produce waves and layers of sound like that, and the amount of details and nuances in their music is just mind-blowing to witness on stage. It felt monumental and thrilling when those monolithic riffs and melancholic melodies swept over the crowd at Hulen and left us all in a state of wonder and ecstasy. While comparisons to Earth and Sleep are in place, I do think that Elder is a thing of its own, something that possesses a unique voice and expression, something different and strange and awesome. The songs themselves are long, epic pieces that are both hypnotic and trance-inducing, but never annoyingly repetitive. Everything is sharp and focused, but cinematic and sublime too. Epic in scope and heartfelt from top to bottom, Elder made sure that I left the venue with a smile on my pimple-soaked face. A perfect ending to a great night.