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Liechtenstein's greatest band, ever.
on January 8, 2008
This is the best album of Liechtenstein's greatest band, Elis. (Their other albums, "God's Silence, Devil's Temptation" and "Griefshire" are both worthy offerings as well.)
The band resembles other European progressive metal bands with female leads. Unlike some of those, Elis really doesn't use death growls or beauty-and-the-beast pairings of male and female voices, relying on the single female voice instead. They have a very developed, professional sound - not surprisingly, since they have worked with the excellent German progressive metal producer Alexander Krull (Atrocity, Leaves' Eyes).
Both lyrically and musically, the album explores tensions suggested by the title, with cloudy, foreboding darkness offset by clear, crisp light. For example, the second track, "Anger," plays notions of anger against metal riffs against Sabine Dunser's clear cry to "Please calm, calm my anger."
The first song ("Der Letzte Tag," "The Last Day") sets the overall tone. It's written in German, and begins and ends with spoken lines - - loosely, "It happened one day, as the sun lit up the Earth, that the people who longed after the night had their torment relieved," and at the very end, "It happened one day, and then the night finally came." In between is a classic hard rock song with driving drum and guitars with Sabine singing a description of the deathly still atmosphere of the final day. Her strong, clear voice plays well against the guitars and drums throughout that song and the album as a whole.
Musically, most of the songs are straightforward metal/hard rock, with classic song structures (with a verse/chorus, bridge or guitar solo). The drum and guitar work will remind many listeners of recent Nightwish albums, or even classic Scorpions. A few songs have a more "progressive" metal sound. "Perfect Love" is essentially a waltz that uses a series of different keys to move the song forward. "Black Angel" also uses a slow 3/4 (or fast 12/8) time but has a more driving guitar beat and some vocal harmonies and countermelodies that give it a more progressive feel.
Some reviewers have complained that the album is repetitive, or that the songs don't stand out enough from one another. I think that's a bit of a problem with Elis's other two albums, and there are perhaps some songs here that are a bit too similar ("Anger" and "Die Zeit" come to mind). Overall, however, I think this is a nicely varied album, with rockers, ballads, and some more progressive metal songs.
This is the best album of Elis's first era, as lead singer Sabine Dunser died suddenly in 2006 of a cerebral hemorrhage. She deserves inclusion in the group of top metal singers, such as Floor Jansen (After Forever), Simone Simons (Epica), Tarja Turunen (Nightwish) and Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation). She usually sings in a more "power" range (like Jansen, Turunen and van Adel), but occasionally has her voice float in the higher ranges like Liv Kristine. This is an impressive album.