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Elder the band


In 1991, when Joe Albanese and Willie Dizon formed Four Living Creatures, an aggressively dark Christian rock band, they had no means of forecasting the long and winding road that they would have to travel before that first and most important of all career moves -- being signed to a record label. It's probably good though, because had they been able to see their course, they might have opted for one more traveled by, and less instructive.

Four Living Creatures experienced the typical mixed reactions to their shows and the typical lack of enthusiasm from record labels to music that dealt with the scarier moment of Christian life. But the band persevered, recorded their first full-length release, borrowed a Picasso for the cover (from his blue period, natch), and drew the interest of Brad Wells, who had an indie venture at the time called Frozen Rope. Wells contacted gray dot for distribution of the Four Living Creatures record as well as one by Harry Gore, and gray dot began to market the release, as unique to its genre as was "Shaded Pain" to its in the eighties.

And then the band broke up. The stress of the road exacerbated existing tensions, and Four Living Creatures played their final show in Atlanta. A splinter band eventually signed to R.E.X. as Sweet Nectar, temporarily occupying Dizon's attentions. However, in 1997, Dizon left Sweet Nectar, and reunited with Albanese and his wife since 1992, Cat, as well as Jonathan Maple on drums, and Bryan Whitfield, who had just ended a long fight to be released from the Air Force as a conscientous objector after he converted to Christianity. The band moved into a communal home, following the example of early church models, and recorded "Used to be Adorable" under the guidance and financial support of Pastor David Alexander from their local church home, Abundant Life.

"Used to be Adorable" was a stunningly powerful effort, and practically a one-day record, and it caught the eye first of Liquid Disc / Vector veteran Steve Griffith, who offered the band his production and studio in return for part of their publishing royalties in the eventuality that they were signed. Elder accepted. The second ear it caught was that of David Vanderpoel at 1997's Cornerstone festival, when Joe and Willie burst into the radio trailer where Vanderpoel had an on-air shift in progress. The band was desperate for a dubbing deck to run demos on for other labels at the festival, and what Vanderpoel heard was impressive enough for him to interrupt his show and broadcast the demo live on air. (It's never been confirmed that he actually did dub anything for other labels.)

The rest as they say, is history. Or future, in this case. In early October of 1997, Elder and Griffith recorded their new twelve-song tour de force, "So Long Babylon," a shrill indictment of carnal life and its plagues and woes, and an even tougher look at America's pasteurization of Christianity. While "So Long Babylon" is bound to unsettle the unrighteous, it is the record that Elder survived to make, and a valuable addition to the Christian music lexicon alongside L.S.U., scaterd few, SpudGun, and other socially-focused records. And " Babylon" holds its own in its target audience of Christians listening to Jane's Addiction, Tool, Black Sabbath, and Rage Against the Machine.

"  the CD thunders, rages, and &endash; a nice surprise &endash; harmonizes. This multi-ethnic / gendered band wins attention from the very first note." &endash; Circus Magazine, April 1997


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