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A new beginning... - 80%

doclindgren, January 29th, 2010

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.

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