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This was rather unexpected, or I'm just losin' it - 87%

Liquid_Braino, October 7th, 2017

Although they are labeled as gothic metal, Elferya actually leans towards the symphonic metal genre, which in itself places the band at a disadvantageous platform. Hell, when I think of symphonic metal, I tend to think of flowery heavy metal that lacks the thrust of power metal, the chops of progressive metal, and the gloom of gothic metal, but bears qualities of all three with an added dosage of orchestral bombast. Toss in a bit of celtic-style jigs and that's Eden's Fall, at least on a surface level. With this kind of watered down shit, other non-metal elements must provide compensation, whether it be with a powerhouse singer or strong hooks during the chorus.

So yes, it does look like I'm throwing the symphonic tag under the bus as being weaker than a teacup full of beer piss, but here's an occasion in which the whole kebob overrides individual missing characteristics of power and prog. I'm not mentioning goth, since Elferya does possess plenty of attributes as to what is often classified as gothic metal these days, especially concerning those with female singers. The differences between female-fronted gothic and symphonic metal musically are about as equal as the difference in the color of the corsets the singers wear. But damn does this band play both sides of the fence well.

First off, the songs all sound distinct. Instead of agitating reliance on the open low string as the basis for whatever riffs there are, Elfreya go all over the fretboard to come up with some interesting chord progressions. It's like they wrote their tunes on a keyboard first rather than a guitar to keep that tendency of jamming out on the heaviest low note at bay, thus avoiding blatantly similar sounding riff patterns. Each song carries its own vibe, and none of them are throwaways.

The main course of this album, tracks four through seven, is where the real tasty shit lurks. For those looking for glammy, garish goth, "Cruel Night" more than suffices by matching catchy vocal melodies during the chorus with a fairly unusual chord progression. Melody Dylem proved to be a nice grab thanks to her pop-inflected vocal contributions. She's like the ubiquitous purple-haired chick in one of those "Disney Camp Rock" type deals, but bolder, richer and more mature. She's got power to her voice, but opts for a clean yet angsty delivery that's kind of cute in a way. If nothing else, it's perfect for the Tim Burton goth-leaning stuff. It's not all Ruby Gloom though as she proves her multifarious nature by opting for a warmer and almost operatic tone for my favorite track off this album, "Ghost of Mary". This song toes the line between symphonic and gothic perfectly, and Jesus that long sumptuous break after the second swelling chorus is absolutely beautiful. That melody simply carries my soul up to the glory of Heaven, in which I'm greeted with open arms by angels, mermaids and pixies. Wonderful.

The other two numbers comprising the main coarse are equally righteous, with "The Dreamcatcher" being the track that sort of veers towards being mildly progressive in nature. The mellow opening is suitably atmospheric before the majestic gothic-tinged symphonic wrecking-ball swings forth. There's a fair amount of soloing going down for this track, in which the guitar performance is outplayed by the band's violinist. They should just hand her an electric violin and allow her to go shithouse until the guitar soloing capabilities improve. They're a bit too jagged and unrefined, which doesn't really match up to the rest of what's going on instrumentally. What's more important though is that the songwriting is creative and adventurous without aiming for sheer complexity. "Toys of a Modern Man", on the other hand, is short and arguably the heaviest sounding track. I'll be damned if the vocals aren't catchy and fun to sing along to during that number, and yet the metal aspects aren't squandered for an attempt at a wider-reaching audience.

There's really nothing wretched as far as the other tracks go, such as "With All My Love" dialing up the symphonic side of things, and "Alone with You" doing the renaissance fair routine quite well. Even a simplistic straightforward track like "Metal Hearts" is pretty cool thanks to the robotic vocals that add a dose of an industrial gothic feel to it. The production is decent enough by symphonic metal standards, allowing a strong guitar presence that isn't dwarfed by the keyboards and drums.

This was a grower, but at least it got me intrigued enough to immediately revisit. I discovered it on Spotify, following up on one of those "If you like this shitty female-fronted symphonic metal band, you may also like these other shitty female-fronted symphonic metal bands" functions. I figured with a band name starting with "Elf", it would be at least good for a laugh, but not actually flat-out good. But yeah, I liked it, and the more I played it, fuck man if this thing had some ripping solos it would be utterly perfect. It's too bad that the singer for this album is out the door, as she had a style that abetted in setting this band apart in a strange way. She'll probably go back to singing straight-up pop music, judging from her prior credentials, but hopefully Elferya rebounds with a singer that's similar in style, and not reverts to the generic traditional pseudo-operatics. Keep on rockin’ in the free world with this style, man.