Elodea - Voyager
Becoming One With The Desert - a 15 minute dissertation on all things post-metal
Polymers Are Forever - a 7 minute dissertation on whatever else you want to call all of your other favorite types of metal
Fraction Of The Whole - Think Dillinger Escape Plan + queludes; all the quirkiness and technicality minus the uncontrolled rage and breakneck speed
Revolve - another 14+ min post-metal quintessence (half Oceanic-era Isis, half Mastodon)
Nullentropy - A sludgy, coma inducing beat down of an album closer that ends in eastern tinged coma
The production on this album is pretty typical of sludge these days; the guitar tones are thick and syrupy, the vox are somewhat pushed into the background and the drums cut reasonably through the wall of sound. There's a certain sense of resourcefulness to this album insofar as a great deal of atmospheric and spatial effects are convincingly achieved without piling on the effects, which is a welcome departure in this genre. At times the drums can cut through a bit heavy-handedly, but nowhere enough to be obnoxious.
In terms of composition, I like this album more and more each time I listen to it. It manages to shift gears and change directions a great number of times without losing a sense of continuity, and this is a mark of true musicianship. Not only does it manage to keep your attention progressive-style, but there is a definite sense build-and-release over long periods of time on songs like "Becoming One With The Desert" and "Revolve". It is often trying on patience when a band attempts to sound "epic" or "progressive" simply by throwing a bunch of different time signatures and effects together, but Elodea escapes this trap gracefully, and simmers, smolders, burns and erupts with a great deal of compositional taste. Instrumentation is mostly excellent; as are the vocal efforts are surprisingly versatile and layered for a sludge band. Finally, kudos go to the bands excellent drummer; some of the double bass runs on this disc are just sublime.
Elodea's Voyager rings a few bells where similarity to other bands is concerned. Often I am reminded of the Homeric Thresholds of Imbalance, which Battlefields released last year, as well as The Atlas Moth's very solid A Glorified Piece Of Blue Sky (both excellent albums and bands if you are heavily invested in this style). Elodea differentiates itself as a band, however, by taking cues from related genres, and this is most clearly illustrated in the excellent second track "Polymers Are Forever" which is practically a study in modern metal, showing elements of death-, core-, post-, and thrash-metal in a single 7-minute song. And although it might make you nauseous to try to imagine a band throwing that many envelopes together on a single track, it is pulled off with a sense of nuance, grace and patience that can only come from a great deal of attention paid to musicianship.
I highly recommend this album to fans of metal of most any style. Its slow and crushing enough to satiate sludge freaks and has enough technicality and atmosphere to appease almost anyone else who likes heavy music. Just about every nit I tried to pick with this disc is simply not enough of an issue to write about. An added bonus is the finesse with which its all executed. Seriously, if you like metal, check these guys out, you will be glad you did.
Production - 8
Composition - 9.5
Originality - 9
Overall - 9.0