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This fourth album of Liechtenstein's best band "Elis" is a new beginning after the sudden death of their calm, hypnotizing and unique singer Sabine Dünser that was replaced by the Austrian singer Sandra Schleret. She is not as unique and charismatic as the late vocalist but from a technical point of view she is more skilled and does her very best. The music has also changed with all those changes and moves away from the rather calm and hypnotizing sound of "Griefshire" to head for a heavier sound in the tradition of popular symphonic metal bands. It's because of the band's high degree of diversity that they don't get drowned in the masses of endless popular bands of the same genre. They successfully defend their acquired place and reputation with this record.
The success formula is rather simple and unites styles and skills from the band's past efforts. We have rather dark, heavy and especially atmospheric pieces like the great "Twinkling shadows" or the slower and epic "Warrior's tale" where the popular Michelle Darkness from the German gothic rock band "End of Green" added some vocals. It's surely not the best track on here but a good experiment and it could have been a rather popular song if the band would have decided to release a single or make a video clip out of this. It's the same thing for the catchy Jennifer Rush cover track "I come undone". A part of that the band convinces once again when they use German lyrics. "Des Lebens Traum, des Traumes Leben" is dedicated to Sabine Dünser but turns out to be a musically rather mediocre song while "Das kleine Ungeheuer" tells a dark little tale with many interesting slight changes in style that create a great atmosphere. The more folk orientated and calmer "Rainbow" also stands out and is amongst the best tracks on the record.
The problem with this record is that there are some fillers on the length of the whole album and that there is a lack of continuity and coherence on this record that made "Griefshire" so special and outstanding. This album is full of ideas and emotions but a true soul is missing in the release corpse. The band tried to vary more and focus on their strengths as well as on new experimentations which is a positive point but this plan doesn't always work in the most perfect way. The record is though still better than most of the releases of other bands of a similar genre and it was a good decision of the band to carry on after the death of their late vocalist. Today, the lead singer has once again changed and the band is once more going through changes and I'm looking forward to the result of the next release. In the end, I would like to recommend the purchase of the special edition of the record which includes two good bonus tracks as well as a great little concert where eight songs from the past two albums are performed in a very good way by the new line up that has now once again become an old one.
That's it, ladies and gentlemen: Elis is back and ready for more! After the little taste of Sandra Schleret as the band's new female vocalist that we could hear with the EP "Show Me The Way", I'm sure we all wanted something more. We had to wait for two years for that, and it was worth the waiting every single day!
Elis' comeback after the tragic death of Sabine Dünser and the joining of the highly-acclaimed gothic metal vocalist Sandra Schleret changes drastically many elements the band was previously known for while keeping and improving that delicate essence many of us love. If we go back in time, we can remember that "Griefshire" had a distictive dark sound but, at the same time, felt delicate like the feathers of a swan: a harmony Sabine Dünser and company were well-known for. This time, with Sandra Schleret, the band went further into darkness, bringing aggressivity to their sound: more than half of the songs from "Catharisis" are far more aggressive than anything the band had done before; this maybe can be understood as an approach to something like death metal, but that's a huge mistake: Elis never leaves gothic metal (and probably never will). This is a ciritcal support for this album: many gothic metal bands have tried to make their sound more aggressive, harder and faster, and have failed to remain in the genre; as you can hear in "Catharsis", Elis succeeded.
Now, let's go straight to the musical elements of the album. This time, the guitars take the lead role of the music, becoming more prominent as they appear either behind the vocals or playing many sofisticated solos ("Des Lebens Traum - Des Traumes Leben" and "Firefly" are maybe the best examples for this). The bass and the drums create powerful rhythm sections that last for a nice part of the album, and when combined with the power of the guitar section, we can find explosive, dark atmospheres (examples: "Twinkling Shadow", "Warrior's Tale", "Des Lebens Traum - Des Traumes Leben" and "The Dark Bridge"). On the other hand, we also have softer songs instrumentally: the opener "Core of Life" (a nice song, catchy but good), "I Come Undone" (a Jennifer Rush cover, maybe a little weak but it's nice if you're not in mood for something faster) and "Rainbow" (a synth-driven song in the beginning that reminds us of "God's Silence, Devil's Temptation"). What about the vocals? Well, as we already know, Elis uses mainly the female vocals, with many interesting death growls on a couple of songs; this time, the male vocals are more common, as nearly half of the songs include them (on "Des Lebens Traum - Des Traumes Leben", which as you may possibly imagine is the most aggressive song of the album, they even become the lead vocals right in the heart, the refrain), but we have an additional element here: the guest male vocals provided by Michelle Darkness (End of Green) on "Warrior's Tale". The balance created by the vocals and the music are more than enough to offer us a new level of darkness in gothic metal.
I haven't talked about the lyrics yet, mainly because here the story is a little different. If we try to analyze the lyrical content of the songs and their arrangement as a whole, we can see that the topic oscillates between despair and suffering ("Core of Life", "Warrior's Tale", "Morning Star", "Mother's Fire", "The Dark Bridge") and rays of light and hope ("Firefly", "Das kleine Ungeheuer", "Rainbow"). In a few words: the light of hope and the deepest darkness meet through the lyrics of the album. This is maybe the reason the album was named "Catharsis": the need for renewal after self-oppression and the way to achieve it (actually, it is a title dear to Sandra Schleret, as she had expressed many times prior to the release of the album).
No matter how we look at the songs, individually or as a whole album, the delicate essence of Elis is evident; maybe wearing new colors, but it can still be felt everywhere in the album. It took us three years to see what the band could do after Sabine passed away. She (Sabine) will forever live in our hearts, but now it's Sandra's time, a new chance the band didn't and doesn't waste as they go further into the treasure of music, while enjoying their well-earned position as one of the best gothic metal bands ever.
Elis is a gothic power metal band from Liechtenstein and this is their fourth studio CD. The songs are generally fast and crunchy with frequent driving aggressive riffs and well-placed power metal leads; the choruses are catchy, poppy and very upbeat. Most of the songs are guitar-driven with sparse backing keys, but several feature a more gothic approach with dramatic wall-of-sound symphonic keys. There is nice variety in style in their CD discography, from quite poppy on God's Silence, Devil's Temptation to dark and heavy on Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky to a pleasant blend of both of these styles on Griefshire. Catharsis continues the blend of styles but takes the song-writing to another level in terms of quality, intensity and sheer emotional impact. The choruses are even more alluring and infectious than those on God's Silence, Devil's Temptation and the riffs are extraordinarily more powerful and engaging than anything they’ve done on Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky or Griefshire. On top of this there are many more interesting guitar leads, and the more pronounced gothic influence in several of the songs strongly reminds me of Satyrian’s excellent CD Eternitas, and even of Widow's Weeds era Tristania when they slow things down a bit.
A significant part of Elis’s improvement is their new vocalist, Sandra Schleret, perhaps best known from her singing in the now defunct progressive gothic metal band Dreams of Sanity. Elis’s former vocalist, Sabine Dünser (who passed away quite untimely in 2006) had a pretty and reasonably expressive voice, though somewhat laid-back; she fit well with the music but Sandra’s voice was absolutely made for music like this. She sings with confidence and power with an incredible variety of styles, from soaring soprano to a sort of deliberate dramatic alto; she is very expressive in her delivery, often using subtle variations in pitch and tempo to add an enchanting richness and depth to the melody. Another significant improvement is the much more frequent use of Tom Saxer’s deep death vocals; they are exquisitely well-done and add a considerable dimension of aggression and menace to many of the songs.
We had to wait over 3 years for it, but this is certainly Elis’s finest and most mature CD to date and should not be missed if you enjoy the poppier side of heavy beauty & beast gothic / power metal.
Originally reviewed at http://www.metalcdratings.com/
A few years ago, the Liechtenstein band Elis experienced the loss of their front woman Sabine Duenser to a hemorrhage. Their last album with her, Griefshire, was posthumously released a few months later and was regarded as the album that would lead the band’s gradual transition towards whoever would take over the vocal duties, who would turn out to be Sandra Schleret. 2009 sees the band’s first full length effort with Schleret in Catharsis, and as expected, the band continues the shift towards a heavier direction, but maintains some of the band’s earlier influences in the process.
Long time fans of Elis will undoubtedly notice a rather sizeable change in the band’s music, as it goes away from the stereotypical Gothic metal direction and more towards the heavy side of things. The guitars are more involved on the album than they were on Griefshire. That isn’t to say Griefshire didn’t have the guitars, as in many ways, it laid out the blueprint for where Catharsis should go in terms of a musical direction. This is evident from the moment that the first track “Core of Life” begins with its music. The track also signals a new beginning with vocalist Sandra Schleret, and upon first impression, most people aren’t necessarily going to like what they hear. However, a few more listens reveal that Elis is not trying to simply recreate the old times, but, rather, move on with what they have and do their best. “Warrior’s Tale” features guest vocals from End of Green’s Michelle Darkness, which add the dark element to the song, as his rather Gothic sounding vocals work well with Schleret’s vocals. On the album as a whole, there is also more in the way of precise guitar solos, which is one indication of the band’s overall growth from its beginnings as the typical female fronted Gothic metal band when they started under the Erben der Shöpfung name. However, the improvement doesn’t always translate into an overall listenable album, at least for the first few listens. In fact, Catharsis is one of those albums that is almost an aural version of the Magic Eye books, in that with more listens, a piece of the picture comes into focus. That sounds rather odd, considering that Elis actually simplifies their sound a little more than on previous releases, but as with all changes, it takes time to get comfortable with the concept.
All of the pieces on the new Elis album Catharsis are there. However, it doesn’t quite click right away, but with each listen, it will continue to grow on you. Sure, the sound and the vocals are different to a large degree, and that has something to do with the process, but as all good things are prone to do, it eventually catches on. By no means is Catharsis a perfect album, but then again, very few albums are perfect. The album is a sign that Elis can carry on with their musical lives knowing that they are not only carrying on the legacy of their late vocalist, but are also able to do so in a manner that shows the band’s inner strength, as well as their music.
Originally posted on http://www.metalpsalter.com