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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.