Ireland’s very own Elder Druid is proud to officially share their first studio album in Carmina Satanae. Back in the day we covered the band’s 2016 EP Magicka, stating that their blend of stoner and sludge elements presented a heavy and hypnotic aura. While the record comes with a few road bumps in its chemistry, Elder Druid is still able to craft an overall kickass presentation of mystical heaviness
There is a terrific balance of sludge and stoner styles at play here. This balance comes through in the mix of songs that linger on with ominous droning tones, to tracks that just rip away with a sludgy rhythm. Opening track, “Blue Dream Black Death”, is more like the latter, beginning with dense waves of guitar distortion before the rest of the instrumentation kicks in. The bass lays down a nice comfy foundation to groove alongside the guitar, as the drum beat settles itself into a mid-tempo progression. The vocals come with a great contrast to the track though, and don’t fit too well into this sort of sound. It’s more jarring than anything else, as if the two are conveying different feelings.
The following track, “Tempest”, takes a slower approach in its progression. The drum beat remains steady as the guitar flows in a vibrant haze. Thanks to this pace, the vocals fit slightly better into the mix, even if they still overpower the material at times. Part of it feels it would translate better if played live, but as far as the recording is concerned, the material comes across as if the vocals are just taking over everything else.
“Stinkroach” is when things finally all come together in the band’s structure. The instrumentals play out in an upbeat sludge groove, letting loose psychedelic melodies, and unleashing a heftier barrage of drumming. Because of this intensity, the vocals finally feel that they fit into the chemistry, with Elder Druid creating a truly brutal and wild good time. Carmina Satanae’s strongest quality is the unbelievably catchy hypnotism of the instrumentals. Whether it is through pounding sludge, or through a dark and lingering stoner drive, the band is terrific at luring listener’s into a daze of magic and wonder. “Witchdoctor” continues in the good spirit of the previous track, and actually packs a somewhat Pantera-like vibe into the material. It’s when the band plays to the more upbeat rock and roll qualities of their sound that they are able to come together as one (rather than play in glaring contrast to one another in regards to the vocals).
By the album’s third track, things ride much more smoothly for Elder Druid. And thankfully, for an album that’s eight songs long, the band is able to present the majority of their material in terrific form. With the exception of a couple other awkward moments with the vocals, the rest of the work strongly succeeds in giving off a truly heavy as hell and mystical energy. For Elder Druid’s first major release, Carmina Satanae packs a primal aura of mesmerizing abilities. The tremendous pounce of the bass, the careful precision in drum work, along with the captivating tones of the guitar playing, all make for a promising first major release from Elder Druid.