Feb 092012

I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I prefer to believe that, in person, Portland’s Elitist aren’t as inhumanly corrosive as their music. Yes, they say, “Our fucking lives ended when we started this band”, but they probably love their parents. Unless they killed them and ate their fingers like french fries.

Despite the fact that the music sounds like helpless bodies being dragged through a trough of broken glass and then dumped in a pit of salt so the lacerations will burn like a motherfucker before Elitist pee on them, they’re probably loyal friends and gentle lovers.

The jagged slurry of metallic slag that flows through these songs surely doesn’t flow through the veins of the band members. The tortured screams and ghastly howls in the music surely don’t come from the bleeding throats of caged demons within their bodies. If you were having a beer with Elitist, they wouldn’t really go for your throat like famished hyenas. They’d probably even buy a round.

This is what I prefer to believe — but after listening a few times to the band’s 2011 Season of Mist album, Fear In A Handful of Dust, I wouldn’t bet on any of it.

Most of the time, the music moves at the speed of a drunk driver trying to escape his wrecked, burning vehicle despite having lost both legs in the impact. It’s usually a slow crawl, but there’s a lot of frantic activity nonetheless.

The guitars and bass are distorted within an inch of their tortured lives, and the songs are loaded with feedback — all the better to tear skulls apart without finesse or anesthesia. Heavy fuzz, slamming or massively groaning chords, beefy bass, tremolo needling, and psychedelic swarming: these are among the implements of a wrecking machine that’s utterly heartless and wholly engulfing.

Mixing longer black-hole implosions with shorter blasts of barely controlled grind, Elitist keep the listener off-balance and uncomfortable. “Slowly Fucked and Force Fed” is doom-drenched sludge from start to finish, “Bound and Bent” is a driving blaster, and “Watch As They Worship, Yet Be Silent” is nothing but unstructured noise, without drums or rhythms but with an assortment of demented shrieks that would permanently traumatize the young or frail.

But most songs are a mix of tempos, molasses-drip sludge combining with cauterizing grind and whatever speed best captures the sensation of being stretched on the rack at maximum agony. Similarly, the vocal tone is also a mix, ranging within most songs from completely unhinged shrieks and howls to death metal roars, and every utterance is an expression of pain or vitriol.

Trying to categorize the music within well-accepted genre classifications is a fool’s errand. It harnesses elements of black metal, death metal, sludge, doom, grind, and some kind of experimental shoegaze for the undead.  It’s the kind of music I’d recommend to fans of Portal, Mitochondrion, and 1349, not because Elitist sound quite like any of those bands, but because the music triggers a similar register on the Richter scale of extremity and has a similar disdain for you and your pathetic lives.

I like the way JGD at The Living Doorway ended his review (and it’s his review that first got me interested in this band): “Elitist are coming to collect all of our teeth whether we want em’ to or not.”

Here are two tracks from Fear In A Handful of Dust:

“Burning the Unspoken Gospel”

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“Ivory Shavings of the Tools Unknown”

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The album is available on iTunes and Amazon mp3, and in hard-copy form from distros you can find via these Elitist links:

http://www.myspace.com/dieselnoise
http://www.season-of-mist.com/bands/elitist
http://elitistpdx.bandcamp.com/

19 Responses to “ELITIST: “FEAR IN A HANDFUL OF DUST””

  1. So… This is not that Born of Osiris clone from LA, then? Cool.

    PORTAL… *flinches*

    • Islander says:

      Uh, no, not even close. That other band couldn’t use the word “fear” in an album title with a straight face. These guys can.

      • “The other band” being the other Elitist, yes?
        Then again, Portal probably couldn’t use the word “Fear” with a straight face either… [A different kind of of non-straight face. :| ]

        You’re right though – this stuff is pretty corrosive. But, the psychedelic and post-hardcore-like passages seem to ease the experience. An odd comparison, and probably a little disrespectful(?) to the band being made comparison to, but it makes one feel like listening to Tusk‘s The Tree of No Return.

        • Islander says:

          Yep, the other band is from L.A. Kind of a prog/djent/core band. I’m not putting down their music, but it’s quite different from Elitist PDX.

          I also think you’re right about the post-hardcore/psychedelic passages. It’s part of what makes listening to this an intriguing experience, as well as a crushing one.

  2. Quigs says:

    Which Elitist is it that’s on tour with Scale The Summit currently?

  3. Any other metal bands from recent times you know of who have an evil twin? [or as in the case of Elitist, a djent-metalcore-playing doppelganger]
    There is, of course, Czar from Tacoma (Grindcore / Progressive Metal) and from Chicago (Progressive Metal).

    • Ørsaeth says:

      There’s actually another band named Portal, from Edmonton Alberta, who play progressive rock/metal.

      Besides that, the only other one I can think of is Shining.

  4. Jimmy says:

    Yes.

    After I bought this album, it didn’t leave my car. It gave me energy. It knocked In The Nightside Eclipse, Dopethrone and Tordenkrig by Frostmoon out of my CD player for three months.

    In retrospect I may have been a little obsessed with it, but it’s an album that demands obsession from the listener, in my opinion, or you’re missing out.

    The other Elitist band just confused me with their shiny haircuts and tight t-shirts, ambiguity intended.

  5. [...] reviewed the band’s debut album, Fear In A Handful of Dust, in 2012 — back when the band were [...]

  6. [...] reviewed the band’s debut album, Fear In A Handful of Dust, in 2012 — back when the band were [...]

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