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As those unfortunate enough to know me personally would say (and as suggested by my penchant to write reviews when bored) I'm rarely rendered speechless; I've always got something to say no matter how worthless it may be- despite how aware I often am of said fact. Nonetheless, it took me a while to respond to the musical abomination that's "Scars".
It happens once in a while when musicians let their female vocalist (I assume, anyway), write a song. Octava Sperati is another recent and really painful example that comes to mind ('Don't Believe a Word' I think it's called). Just imagine a particularly whiny Celine Dion song, or for those Australians out there, a Missy Elliott/Delta Goodrem type 'angsty diva' tune and you're right there. You know, the whole "emotional chick with a piano" type crap. Fucking horrible, genuinely awful, one of the worst songs I've ever heard. It's not like the first song impressed me all that much, but this song basically put the album completely beyond redemption for me. Worst song ever? Well, no, but unbelievably bad; made me put on some Elton John to get it out of my head. 'Sacrifice'- now that is a good ballad. Elegion, listen to that old english gay dude once in a while, you guys might learn something.
It doesn't help that the whinefest continues without any sign of remorse, as it were. Heaven's Torment, a mere five minutes after the holocaust that is Scars:
"I need you to lie with me / Cry with me / Die with me
Stay with me / Dream with me / And finally leave with me"
Call me a soulless, loveless void but that needs to be KILLED WITH FIRE. The delivery! The horrible cut price Brave Murder Day musical number! This is awful, really, truly horrendous.
For those few strange souls who can get past the vocals (she's not a technically bad singer, just one with a tendency towards horrible lyrics and melodies) things don't get worse, but there's no redemption to be found here. The first song is a bit of an oddity here; rather average but a few dual leads, vaguely aggressive riffs with some really overbearing goth trappings and perhaps a pinch of Brave Murder Day "sad chords" type riffing, er, chord progressions. I got to hand it to these guys, they try a few different things- Celine Dion balladry, some acoustic meanderings, a little bit of doom- but aside from the first song none of it works- at all. Just hopelessly cliched and boring with nothing new (or more importantly, good) bought to the table. In every gothic metal release there's a fine line between being sad and emotional and just sounding like a whining, self-pitying knobhead. Here, the line has been well crossed.
There's not really much to go with in general here, but with a great singer there'd be a chance that this could be somewhat bearable. But there isn't one, so it sucks, hugely. Attention all goth people: you're not Aaron Stainthorpe. He can pull it off (most/some of the time), you guys (and girls) can't. Please stop trying! I leave you all with one final brilliant bit of lyrical genius that sums up this album:
"Everytime I feel alone, and left forgotten
I have to believe in something like angels to breathe
Everytime I see my pain, beating in rhythm,
I need to be silenced, in silence where I hide my fear"
SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP AAAAAARGH
9% because I was feeling generous
I give this album a 25 for the first track alone, which is stellar. It starts with a killer lead and features the best of what the band has to offer (atmosphere, dueling vocal styles, strong guitar work). The song finishes briliantly with a prog-rock inspired solo.....The rest of the album is a complete letdown.
Of the six remaining tracks, two are basically Firona Apple inspired vocals over BOOORING music. They fail to recapture the greatness found during "The Last Moment," instead the band opts for filler. Im not joking, this album loses its balls and FAST.
Seriously, if your looking for another Agalloch, look away. I love doomy metal, but these tracks don't feel epic, they feel monotonous. A major dissapointment for me, as the album peaks with the first track.
Oh, and on a side note, this album's production sounds very little like Burzum (as stated in the previous review). It's a bit raw, but by no means are the guitars buzzing, and the drums have more punch.
I wasn't aware of Elegeion until I heard a track from this album on local Australian metal show 'Full Metal Racket', and after waiting patiently for the album to arrive via the mail, I finally received it 2 weeks after ordering. Hailing from Victoria (and sounding very much like they should be from Scandinavia) this is only the second album by the band, but releasing a couple of EP's and demos since their formation in 1995 has ensured this recording is very much a mature, focused release with no hints of inexperienced song writing often found in some bands early efforts. This album also boasts cover art by famed artist Travis Smith (whose work can be seen on various Opeth and Katatonia releases), with the image depicting a lonely figure standing atop a cliff edge - poignant symbolism of the isolation and loneliness described in the lyrics. I actually didn't immediately listen to the cd upon receiving it as I thought having a first listen at night would be more fitting the sombre, slow music that I knew was to come.
Consisting of just three main members (having utilised the services of various session musicians in the past) this cd is an epic journey of atmospheric blackened doom with a palpable sense of melancholy, reminiscent of Agalloch and early Katatonia. There is dual vocals here, male and female, with the male vocals consisting of distant rasps (very similar to John Haughm of Agalloch) and occasional whispers which provide sharp contrasts to the clean, crisp and beautiful female vocals of Dieudonnee, who also plays piano on the album, in addition to writing the lyrics and music for a number of tracks. The use of violin is a nice touch, a sign of early My Dying Bride influence, which alongside the piano gives the album a sophisticated Gothic feel.
'The Last Moment' begins with the title track, and starts off with a surprisingly catchy heavy riff that leads into some impressive lead work courtesy of Justin Hartwig from Chalice. The vocal interplay between main songwriter/lyricist Anthony and Dieudonnee is top notch in this track, and leads well into 'Scars', a highly emotive, all female vocalled affair, featuring just violin and piano accompaniment. The third song, 'Solitude', is the second longest on the album (behind the title track), clocking in at a bit over 7 minutes, but the length of the track is of no detriment as it features some nice melodic riffs and spoken word vocals that make for an interesting change in tone colour in the light of Anthony's blackish rasps and melodic beauty of Dieudonnee. 'Taste' follows, and could be considered to be the most 'upbeat' of all the songs on the album, and while it serves as a nice interlude between the melancholia of 'Solitude' and 'Heavens Torment' it doesn't sever the atmosphere built by the albums early songs.
'Heavens Torment' is next, my personal favourite. If the band were ever to release a single off this album, I'd imagine this song would be it, clocking in at a short 3:25 and featuring a memorable, catchy chorus sung by Dieudonnee. 'Wallow' continues much in the same vein as the earlier tracks. With an almost Burzum-ish feel to it, it's funeral march speed combined with mournful violin takes the listener deeper into the bleak Elegeion world described throughout the album. When the final track begins, you'd be forgiven for thinking your listening to something off My Dying Bride's 'The Angel and The Dark River', with the violin setting the mood for the heavy guitar/female vocalled mix that follows. This is a great album finisher. The from-out-of-nowhere black metal ending section a pleasant surprise, with harsh screams that any kvlt fan would be proud of. And with that, the album abruptly concludes. Possibly a reaction against the seemingly stock standard drawn out, feedback-y album endings, but an ending that leaves you wanting more all the same.
Production wise, this album reminds me a lot of Burzum with it's grainy, slightly fuzzy guitar & male vocal sound (though Anthony's vocal performance is in no way similar to Vargs) which I think suits the album perfectly. The juxtaposition between that and the feminine beauty of Dieudonnee's vocals makes for a very interesting mix, and one that still sounds unique even in the light of so many 'beauty & and the beast' Gothic metal bands.
This is a highly emotive record, filled with many great elements, such as melancholy, great vocals (by both singers), excellent musicianship, atmosphere, and heartfelt lyrics. Anyone who is a fan of old Theatre of Tragedy, Chalice, Enslaved, Novembers Doom or any of the bands mentioned in this review would do very well to purchase this. One complaint I do have though is, with only 7 tracks, it's not long enough!
Standout tracks: The Last Moment, Scars, Heavens Torment, Confusion