Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Elysion - Someplace Better.

Another Greek band! And what’s this? It’s not black metal! One of the most unique underground gothic metal bands, Elysion, are finally back with their overdue sophomore release, Someplace Better. I was beginning to think that they were going to end up being another one-album-wonder group that vanished into thin air after it came to be 2012 without any notable updates other than an EP compiled of live and acoustic tracks. Yes, that’s right, I’ve known about these fuckers since I received a copy of their debut album in 2009 for review through the webzine I was writing for at the time (those of you that know my history well can easily guess which webzine). Although their first album isn’t anything over-the-top outstanding, it was more than enough to get me pumped for the band’s next release.

Well 2014 is here and they have finally put out what they should’ve put out years ago. I don’t know much about the band’s background info and don’t really care about it either because I don’t love these guys, their last effort was average, why should I waste my time when I could be drooling over the musical backgrounds of Karl Sanders and Devin Townsend? Moving on, the band have managed to keep their logo, which is good because it’s not some boring ass font like a lot of these other gothic metal bands use. The intro to the first song sounds like they held up a microphone to a stereo playing a Lacuna Coil song. The signature eerie harmonies that Christina Scabbia is known for appear in numerous places all throughout the first track (and the whole album really). But besides that, there isn’t really other Lacuna Coil carbon-copy shit that’s obvious enough for me to hear. The slow, heavy, dark chugging riffs aren’t really Lacuna Coil shit as much as they are a gothic metal thing because every gothic metal band I’ve ever heard (I only listen to a dozen or so bands from this genre) does this.

I never really put much shit on the vocals of their first album because I didn’t really know what the generic gothic metal sound was at the time. So I’m going to put that record out of the picture and stop comparing/contrasting. Probably the thing about Someplace Better that bothers me more than anything else is the vocalist. I don’t know what it is about her, but her voice is so unique, yet so uninteresting. Don’t get me wrong, her voice is PERFECT for Elysion’s sound, but because this style of music puts so much emphasis on the female vocals, she seems to come up a bit short. She’s not out-of-tune, she has power, she expresses emotion, and she has a great dynamic range. There’s just something about her voice that makes it easily forgotten and never sticks to you in the way that singers like Floor Jansen and Simone Simons do. It’s not the absence of the operatic singing that a lot of these chicks like to do, that’s not something I require in a female singer. The issue I’m having is that she sounds so “generic” and ordinary, but I can’t find anyone else that sounds anything like her!

When listening to this record, the perfect harmony between the vocals, keyboards, guitars, and drums put you in a headlock and hold you in tight until the last track has finished. Then, once it’s over and the room has fallen silent, you completely forget what you just listened to. There’s nothing memorable about this album despite the solidity and crispness of the well-composed music. I’ve had to listen to this album over and over so many fucking times because if I go for more than one hour without listening to it, I’ll completely forget what it sounded like and how it captured me on that personal musical level.

The frilly keyboards are perfectly placed in the background where they should be. They don’t take the forefront like a lot of halfwit bands are doing these days. The keyboards help provide a beautiful atmosphere that, when mixed with the melodic crunch of the guitars, creates a beautiful cacophony of sound that encircles you. But like I said before, once the album finishes, it all vanishes into thin air like it was never there in the first place. There’s no after-effect, the album doesn’t leave you with any feeling, nothing like that. When you finish the album, the feeling you get is the feeling that you had before you pressed play.

If you’re a gothic metal enthusiast or love female-fronted bands, this is definitely something you need to check out because this is one of the stronger gothic metal releases I’ve heard in years. A lot of these bands have been growing dry (i.e. Sirenia, etc.) and this new Elysion album is like a breath of fresh air for someone that rarely hears a truly great symphonic or gothic metal album. This is one of the better Greek bands and I would give this album an above-average score of 14/20. The reason it’s so high is because although it’s very forgettable, it’s a fantastic piece nonetheless and does a great job of capturing the precise feeling it wants to.