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When listening to Australia’s Elegeion, connotations of the word “obscure” flood my thought process and tend to dominate my analysis of the music and the band members themselves. Almost every aspect of this bands earliest works and even their distant relationship to metal and her audience is concealed, enigmatic and mysterious. This band, spearheaded by Anthony Kwan who practically conceived this album single handily, are a relative unknown in both Australia and worldwide. Their sophomore, entitled ‘The Last Moment’, received far more coverage than this full-length debut, ‘Through The Eyes of Regret’. Despite the accessibility and generally well constructed nature of this album, it remains a little-known figure in doom. Given the fact that Anthony obviously had a clear vision in his mind of integrating gothic touches as well, I’m truly flabbergasted that this band haven’t received more attention. I’m used to listening to occult bands, but normally in the black metal sub-genre, not this type of doom metal with gothic overtones.
Accessibility is an all-important factor of this album. Each song, each small element of the songs is accessible to the modern listener and follower of a more melodic doom variety. With the gothic overtones, too, the music becomes far wider ranging than a standardised melodic doom band with heaps of atmosphere. Not only this, but Australia’s Elegeion have the sense to incorporate classical arrangements and aspects into their music, as found sparsely on this album and in songs like ‘Oration of Indifference’ with the piano segments that filter through the slow, monotonous guitar distortion of the doomier aspects. The piano segments aren’t the only indication of classical arrangements as Anthony also asked Adam Hollinshead to provide his talents on the cello, an instrument which heightens the sense of melancholy in the music beautifully. I’ve always been a fan of metal bands incorporating the cello where they can.
The moodier the music, the firmer more view point becomes. With this album being rather dreary in terms of its atmosphere, the cello and mournful piano passages as on songs like ‘Oration of Indifference’ enhances the soundscapes which dwell in places only touched by sombre emotions. In certain places, as on ‘Oration of Indifference’, the piano will play alongside the cello beautifully, but Elegeion aren’t satisfied with experimenting only in this capacity as they invite gentle acoustics, light percussion, an accessible bass and austere female vocals into their classy arrangements. Despite this being a debut, it showcases a lot of maturity in the song writing and developing of emotions through the varied instrumentation and the ability to be able to play well outside their normal comfort zone. This album may be primarily described as melancholic doom metal, but it evolves into so much more than that after the startling self-titled opening song.
The more typical aspects aren’t beyond Elegeion. Songs like ‘Thoughts’ indicate that the Australian band aren’t afraid to meet expectations by using harsher male growls and repetitive, doom laden guitar riffs. There is a more monotonous side to this band, it isn’t all wild experimentation as songs like ‘Thoughts’ clearly show. However, even at their blandest, Elegeion still find time to become unconventional by either integrating the cello back into the music, or varying their tempo from slow, to mid paced and quickening the pace further still. In some cases, songs like ‘Thoughts’ remind me of bands like England’s Anathema. The spoken male vocals alongside stubbornly melancholic atmospherics remind me of Anathema’s old doom style mixed with their alternative rock style of their mid-era career. The vocals of Anthony at their harshest aren’t the most impressive. The production feels a little stale at times. It doesn’t give the impression that it would be able to handle anything more extreme than his wimpy growls, so I see the lack of aggression as a positive.
He does lack conviction, but his stylistic approach of tuning down the aggressiveness does seem to suffice given how laid-back this album becomes, even at its heaviest, as on songs like ‘Thoughts’ when the drums pound away and the distortion dominates the background soundscapes because, whilst this is occurring, the acoustics are fore fronted, making the song more accessible and clearer. Especially as these harsher elements soon fade away and the grey aspects, like the sullen female vocals by the angelic Dieudonnee, who also supplies the piano passages, are drawn back into the light. Anthony, the main man behind the band, does like a lot of variation. He uses two different female vocalists on this album with Dieudonnee singing on tracks 2, 4, 6 and 9 and former member Natasha on tracks 3 and 5. Both vocalists are strong and suit the style of the band well, so there are no issues there.
Anthony’s performance, though his harsher vocals may lack depth and strength, is the stand-out element of this album. He produced the thing, he did the cover art, he supplies vocals, the bass and the guitar riffs, whilst also writing the lyrics. There isn’t anything inherently different about Elegeion from most other doom metal acts with gothic overtones, but the album is deliver impeccably, for the most part, across the board. The instrumentation is generally top notch and the female vocals stunning. Although this album does tend to fade away towards the end, given the fact that there are a number of short filler tracks included into the mix, this is still a very strong debut full-length with lots of potential for the future, though I understand their sophomore is meant to be mediocre. The band have seemingly gone into hiding again though, so I don’t expect a new album any time soon to improve upon the supposed mediocrity of the sophomore.