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Sometimes people ask me if I was obsessed with Greek black metal. Well, of course I am, but this is more than appropriate for music this melancholic, well written and beautiful. I truly agree with the reviewer before me when it comes to the diversity in the Hellenic scene. None of the great mass of truly great bands sound the same. Having said that - “Adelain” is another masterpiece in Hellenic extreme metal history.
A variety of different metal styles (mainly black, death and doom) are present, but the diversity doesn’t end here; simple, yet beautiful piano lines accompany various riffs without ever being obnoxiously overused or “flowery”. The piano does almost fully replace the typical keyboard; only a few synth choirs are used skilfully and sparsely.
One of the album’s absolute shining moments is the diverse riffcraft. There are a ton of riffs, some technical, some not; many totally unpredictable tempo changes and a variety of beautiful lead guitars spicing up the heavy bottom-end sound of the crunching rhythm guitars. Many styles are ever-present in the guitar lines, from the blazingly fast black metal tremolo-picked sections to death metal staccato riffage, which often leads into harmonic doom metal riffs similar to a heavier version of Candlemass. I’ve heard people comparing these slower parts to bands like Opeth – don’t trust them, as this is as wrong as it get. Opeth are not even remotely as strong in terms of riff quality and songwriting (more of that later in this review) and The Elysian Fields are about 10 times heavier, and definitely death/black, not extreme “progressive” (the term is often used loosely) metal.
The vocals are right in-between the death/black metal spectrum, ranging from harsh, slightly-below midrange growls to high-pitched shrieks, both styles being used to a great extent and care- and thoughtfully placed in the right positions of the songs. Some spoken word passages appear here as well and again, they couldn’t be any better placed - there aren’t many overall vocal passages, but when they appear, they are dead on. This album’s lyrical direction is also interesting, very bleak, dark and even somewhat poetic at times, very fitting to the melancholic music and the aggressive and despair-ridden growls/shrieks.
The on here drumming is also excellent. The drummer excels in all areas, no matter if slow or fast – varied and by no means average drumming in the doom metal-esque sections, great doublebass and blastbeat work in the fast black metal sections. A very skilled guy with no available background in music – strange.
A minor negative point is the very inaudible bass. Don’t get me wrong, the low-end is thick and very heavy, but distinctive bass-lines are somewhat lacking. Not a huge problem, but definitely deserves to be mentioned.
Another shining moment is the amazing songwriting displayed here, especially for a debut album. The song structures are very atypical, and the individual riffs are rarely repeated. There is no such thing as an actual “chorus”, “verse” or “bridge”, instead, the guys managed to integrate a great flow throughout the album, like the famous read thread, combining the whole album into one great piece of musical work without degenerating into a blurred mess of indistinctive mess. This fact also guarantees regular spins in your CD player without getting bored in the least. A very hard thing to do, but these guys managed to nail it down.
Overall, “Adelain” is a truly impressive debut, created with passion, talent and vision - simply another masterpiece of Hellas.
I strongly recommend this album to all fans of extreme metal.
The Greeks have a thing for originality. While in Norway, Sweden, US or Germany you'll easily find dozens of bands that sound exactly the same, in Greece this somehow doesn't happen. Just look at the biggest names, Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh, Necromantia... all excellent music, each different than the other, and you'd hardly find any significant band that resembles these. Same goes for Elysian Fields.
Adelain is one of the albums that i loved from the first listening [which in this case was very shortly after its release in 1995] and i still love today. This very powerful debut was enough for Elysian Fields to take place among the best metal bands in my collection.
It has pretty much everything you can ask for. The sound is perfectly balanced, no instrument is standing out, everything fits in its place. The music is a unique mixture of black and death metal, with some almost doomy parts. Guitars have a very good and strong sound, the faster riffs at higher volume are almost deadly, in the best sense. Yet they are intertwined with slower, beautiful melodic parts, enhanced by piano, keyboards and occasionally violin.
The usage of simple piano, rather than typical atmospheric keyboards, is a strong point here, giving the album more original feeling. But unlike other bands who spoil their album by having keyboards or violin all over the album until you get sick of it, on Adelain you never get "too" much of anything. It's a guitar+drums based album, where the other instruments come inconspicuously as a support and then leave silently without you even noticing.
Not to leave out the vocals, they are somewhere between black and death, just like the music, while maintaining some variety too. Within the attacks of relentless guitars they show freezing aggressivity that chills your spine, but they can also evoke the feeling of melancholy in the slower passages, where they even become clean at times.
The songwriting is just amazing, especially for a debut. The music is evolving and ever-changing, never stays long on the same tempo or riff, which is one of the best features of the album. After 11 years of listening to it, i never got bored one bit.
There's no need to highlight any of the songs, all of them are superb, not a single one is lacking. If you like Elysian Fields but don't have the debut, fix it asap. If you don't know the band and your taste is not limited to "pure raw black metal" or something like that, you won't be disappointed. This is definitely a musical pearl.