For their sixth full-length studio release, US psych/prog/stoner act (now relocated to Berlin, Germany) have moved even further away from their doom laden heavy rock beginnings to become a full blown progressive rock act, something that really started to take shape on their previous album Omens from 2020 and also with their collaboration with Kadavar on the Eldovar album in 2021. Nicholas DiSalvo (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jack Donovan (bass), Michael Risberg (guitar, keyboards), and Georg Edert (drums) have put together a stunning achievement here with Innate Passage, a five track collection of adventurous soundscapes, soaring & majestic prog, the quirky & spacey nature of psychedelia, and just enough heavy bursts to please their old fans who have been with them from the beginning.
With not a single track under 8-minutes, the band go full throttle into worlds unknown throughout Innate Passage starting with the stunning "Catastasis", as a looped guitar pattern gives way to lumbering riffs and waves of glorious synths, DiSalvo's haunting vocals eventually coming into play as the arrangement takes on a more dreamy stance with crystalline guitar chords and spacey keys, the heavy riffs popping back in briefly, then the glorious prog finishes things out, including a blazing synth solo. The hard hitting "Endless Return" follows, searing guitar lines weaving over thick bass and lush keys, the grooves flowing nicely and the overall arrangement is total ear candy, while more intoxicating loops, Mellotron, groovy bass, and alluring drumming permeate the incredible "Coalescence". The big centerpiece of the album is the near 15-minute "Merged In Dreams - Ne Plus Ultra", another journey into far reaching space rock, cool synth explorations and lilting guitar patterns leading into more metallic passages of guitar thunder, mixed with vocal sections and intricate rhythms, the track building in intensity before the calm & tranquil finale. The album ends with "The Purpose", another slow builder that features some moody riffs and haunting vocals, with the synth solos really well done and vintage sounding.
Innate Passage could be the most mature Elder album to date. Whether you are on board with their more progressive nature these days as opposed to their heavier, doom laden beginnings will ultimately decide your enjoyment of this album, but to these ears, all Elder albums are pretty special, as is this gem.
Endless Return 09:54
Merged In Dreams - Ne Plus Ultra 14:43
The Purpose 08:37