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As smooth as gothic metal gets - 80%

kluseba, July 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2004, CD, Napalm Records

Elis was a band that stood out for numerous reasons. First of all, the group came from the small country of Liechtenstein that isn't exactly known for producing renowned metal bands. Secondly, the band didn't jump on the bandwagon of female-fronted symphonic metal bands but rather focused on gothic metal with mid-paced and slow musicianship. Thirdly, late singer Sabine Dünser had a truly unique voice which is very calm, enchanting and almost fragile. Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky underlines the band's unique trademarks and should please any gothic metal fan.

Produced by Atrocity's Alexander Krull who also worked with the similar sounding but more vivid Atargatis, Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky is a smooth and melancholic record that develops a quite unique atmosphere from start to finish. The guitar riffs are simple and often slow and slightly melodic, recalling not only early gothic metal but also traditional doom metal influences. The bass guitar transmits smooth background vibes. The drum play is grounded and precise as it always serves the individual tracks well. The occasional piano sounds give some tracks an even more melancholic touch, the few electronic experiments are employed with precision and some harsh male vocals honor gothic metal music of the early nineties appropriately.

The sum is greater than its parts on this hypnotizing effort but some tracks stand out nevertheless. The enchating "Anger" represents Elis best as this might be the smoothest song ever about anger with angelic vocals, melodic electronic sounds and melodically distorted slow guitar sounds. The almost medieval keyboard sounds and unusually fast guitar riffs and drum patterns make "Die Zeit" stand out. The almost nightmarish "Black Angel" with its paralyzing guitar riffs, old-fashioned keyboard sounds recalling gothic rock bands from the early nineties and multiple vocal layers has an extremely strong atmosphere that evokes numerous Images in your mind. "Are You Missing Me?" might be the most diversified track with some unexpected changes in pace, slightly distorted male vocals and a few electronic darkwave sounds. The most unusual track might be the closing "Ballade" that works surprisingly well by focusing on Sabine Dünser's charismatic vocals with only simple electronic beats and piano sounds as backdrop.

It's difficult to give this album a precise grade as its consistency is quite close to the other Elis records. However, I actually might prefer this release for its immersive atmosphere without any weak spots. If you like smooth and melancholic gothic or doom metal, you should give this overlooked band a chance and start your journey with this beautiful release.

...In A Perfect Sky - Pandora Rediscoveries Part 3 - 90%

FOrbIDen, June 30th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2005, CD, Icarus Music

This album makes me think of winter - calm rain and early nights - because that was the time of year that Elis, a gothic metal band from Liechtenstein re-entered my realm of awareness. The song "Are You Missing Me?" came up on my Pandora and the band had my whole attention; the rhythm was heavy and catchy, and the melodies flowed together well in a way that was mesmerizing. Next thing I know I'm revisiting the entirety of the band's back catalog, reassessing my opinion on the band that I'd made almost three years prior to listening to this one song on my Internet Radio app. When I first stumbled on the band, I wasn't too crazy about them - I thought that the vocals weren't all that good and that the music itself wasn't very compelling. However, listening to it now, I can appreciate all that I missed when my taste in music was a lot less broad.

The backing instrumentation on "Dark Clouds In A Perfect Sky" is very strong, Elis utilizes an equal balance between aggression in the forms of the thrashy guitars, bass, and drums, and the more flowery atmospheric touches, like the keyboards and programming. Though the keyboards and strings resonate very well and build the magical atmosphere, the more traditional heavy metal instruments do not cede to their more classical counterparts, it is because of the way that the album was mixed and produced that songs like the opening track or "Heart In Chains" sound so big. The instrumentation - objectively - is definitely this band's strongest selling point, there's something about the heaviness and mysticism in this album that definitely works, but that does not mean that the music doesn't have it's flaws. The one major problem is definitely the keyboards, not because the parts are poorly composed, but because they can sound a tad cheesy. Specifically the electric piano and faux tubular bells. It's not that these things are inherently bad, at times the tubular bells remind me of spring or Disney movies, but they can come on too strong and too dense when they were intended to sound more on the delicate side. This being said, the music is still enjoyable, and again, is definitely the band's strong suit.

Now to the part that I found most offensive about this band back in the days of my youth - the vocals. The vocals of the late Sabine Dünser are not "angelic" - so to speak - I won't even pretend that they are. Her voice was soft and delicate, yes, but she wasn't nearly as refined or practiced as some of her contemporaries in the genre, which would totally be fine had the band gone in a more ethereal, early After Forever, The Sins of thy Beloved direction in terms of production. The warm resonance would work to the band's advantage, taking the delicate nature of her voice and having it accentuated by a wispier sound. However, this record is produced very cleanly, detracting from the magic. I would still argue that this is Sabine's strongest performance across the band's discography, not necessarily because her voice is that strong, but because the vocal melodies written for "Dark Clouds..." are captivating, and - for the most part - really pretty. It's not the voice, but how it's used.

So despite all of this album's flaws - as I discussed, there are a few, hell, I didn't even touch on the lyrics - "Dark Clouds Is A Perfect Sky" is a damn good album. My experience dictates that it definitely grows on you over time. Give it a couple listens, the instrumentation is definitely the strongest element here, but it's still "sing-a-long-able", it just needs the opportunity to dig it's way into your head.

Pure awesomeness - 96%

Diego_DAR, November 12th, 2015

I will be sincere, this is the first time that I listened to a whole gothic metal album, I was curious, because I liked one song from this band very much, "Der letzte Tag" (the last day) and I decided to listen to the entire album, what a great idea, my vision of gothic metal changed completely. I thought it would be like Evanescence or something like that, but I was wrong, this genre is actually metal, obviously not as hardcore as "thrash" or "death", but it's metal.

Well, let's get started, first, the title says it all "dark clouds in a perfect sky": When I listened to the songs I felt happy but at the same time I could feel that darkness that was involved, and most of the credit goes to the great Sabine Dünser, simply an awesome female voice that fits perfectly with metal music. Talking about the instruments, everyone did a good job, guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. The riffs play a major role, they're heavy enough to be considered metal (a very good guitar player in my opinion), you don't get a feeling that you're listening to an alternative rock band. The drums and the bass lines are pretty good too (not excellent though). Finally the keyboards add the final part to the dark vibe on the album.

At times the music sounds so gloomy, those crunchy riffs mixing with Sabine's beautiful voice (considering the lyrics too, which are mainly sad) and the keyboards sounding so deep make a gloomy sound. Nevertheless, it's not an album that will make you feel depressed or something like that, actually it feels more like a sense of hope. If you listen to the album when going through hard times, it might help you to feel a little more upbeat.

I really liked the album, a dark sound in every song, that beautiful female voice and every instrument adding an important part to the songs, those heavy riffs, awesome drumming and decent bass lines made me love this album. And you may not forget the keyboards, which along with the riffs create the dark vibe on the album.

Now, I would like to do a track-by track review, but it would take so long, and probably not many people would read the review, I only want to mention some outstanding songs "Der letzte Tag", "Anger", "Heart in Chains", "Die Zeit", "Devil Inside You" and "Are You Missing Me?". Although, there's a song that is clearly not metal: "Ballade", as it names states, it's a ballad, but more like a pop-ballad, it doesn't have any metal elements, but Sabine's sweet voice should be enough to make you like this song.

Finally I would like to say that the fact that there are some songs in german, makes the album more interesting (fortunately I understand the language) and even more because the accent is so unique, given that they're from Liechtenstein, actually it's the only band from that country, that I know, that could achieve some international success, sadly it was very ephemeral, since it all ended after Sabine's tragic death.

Great Album - 99%

Metallideath, December 12th, 2009

I had my doubts on this album at first. I may be more of a thrash metal hardcore Cannibal Corpse growling kind of person, but I'm not all hardcore, I enjoy some nice relaxing metal music. This album really got me into Elis and is my favorite album by Elis. This alone might beat some of Lacuna Coil and some their albums. I'd probably say the songs Black Angel, Der Letze Tag, and Anger were probably my favorites off of the album and are probably the biggest songs that impacted me further into gothic metal.

Der Letze Tag was certainly my favorite song from the album, the video was good and the song was excellent. Like how it has a nice beautiful sound with some heavy guitars and a dark feeling. Normally gothic metal is mostly based off of female vocals and keyboards, but this brings in guitars and drumming and has all the insturments including the vocals play a part in this great song. I certainly didn't put this song on my MP3 player for nothing, the song can really change my mood and how I feel and bring me out of the dumps, especially during school. If a gangster finds out your metalhead at my high school, they will really nail you hard in the head. Despite this I really just prefer to show I'm a metalhead, I dont know why, but I just do. I really like the mood swing this song can bring you, not a bad mood swing, but a good mood swing, which would be from down in the dumps to a good feeling. Really all to say except that Sabine did a wonderful job singing and everyone else did a great job on their parts.

Anger made me feel the complete opposite of anger, it made me feel happy, which really isn't a big surprise considering I am mostly a happy person, but like Der Letze Tag, this song can pull me out of the dumps. Sabine did great singing here and again, everyone else executed perfectly. I also liked the solo, sounded like something that Iron Maiden might try and pull off. That's really all to say about the song other than that it was great.

Black Angel also put in a dark sound and feeling into the song. Like most of the songs, everyone did a great job on their parts. This also really made a big impact on my opinion on the album. Sabine really did a good job showing off her beautiful voice. Drumming and Guitars were beyond excellent. Again, not too much to say here other than that it was great.

Like I said before, I had my doubts on this album at first. This entire album really gives me a good mood swing from shit feeling to happy. The songs had a dark feeling, and that was shown with heavy guitars and drumming with beautiful female vocals really gives that dark feeling, hence the name Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky. But yeah, the emotion brought out is great.

There is really little to criticize on other than that, it you ask me it was great, but their are other gothic metal albums that are just as good as this, like Karmacoda by Lacuna Coil was probably better, Shallow Life by Lacuna Coil was better and more.

Those were really my overall thoughts on this album.

Much better than its credited for. - 89%

grimdoom, November 3rd, 2007

This was by far the best moment for Elis. This is their heaviest release to date, and over all just great Metal.

The production is very good and it only adds to the strength of the songs. The guitars are heavy and precise. The only flaw with them would be the solos. The guitarists are either ‘A’ great rhythm players trying to become leads or ‘B’ lousy lead guitarists. You can tell that they grew up on Thrash however as most of the riffs are incredibly crunchy.

The drums and the bass are decent enough, but the real star here is the late Sabine Dünser. Her vocals are just as soul saving as Anneke van Giersbergen, but unlike Anneke, Sabines’ are trained. Some of the standout tracks would be ‘Der Letzte Tag’, ‘Pure Love’ (perhaps the best and most passionate song this band has ever done and one that best displays Sabines incredibly talent), ‘Rebirth’ and ‘Are You Missing Me’.

Some of the downsides would be that this album does tend to drag in places, and while it’s perhaps one of the more popular styles in Metal at the moment, there is enough originality here that with time this band could be huge. Another problem would be that some of the songs stagnate. There are certainly some good ideas on display here, but they could have done more.

This band sounds NOTHING like evanessence, and such comparisons are baseless and unfounded. This is Pure Heavy Gothic Metal and worthy of your attention.

Gothic metal. Now, move on. - 55%

Sean16, July 22nd, 2006

I didn’t discover Elis after lead singer Sabine Dünser's died, but this event reminded me that I owned a record from this band, which had laid forgotten for around two years on one of my shelves. So it was the occasion of wiping out the dust from it, giving it another listen, and why not reviewing it, though if I remembered well it was quite insignificant.

Overall insignificant, that is. Not bad however, sometimes pleasant to hear, even catchy. The problem is, this gothic metal genre is already overcrowded by mediocre bands, and Elis doesn’t bring anything new, and aren’t really better than most of their counterparts. Distorted guitars, eerie backing keyboards to add some “dark” feeling, the crystalline voice of a female singer, the formula has already been beaten to death. At least the guys don’t hide the fact they can’t play their instruments behind two tons of orchestrations, as Within Temptation does. And I’d actually rather listen to Elis the whole day than to anything by Suckin’ Temptation, but we’re derailing from the topic.

Not to say there aren’t some nice findings here. Some of you will probably flame me, but the very catchy, radio-friendly Anger has really grown up on me. As most of the songs on this album it is built on a simple verse/chorus structure, it carries an overall very pop-ish feeling with it, but nonetheless it’s still a very moving tune. Another interesting track would be the closing one Ballade, which sounds totally different from the others, leaning more towards indus/goth rock with its apparently programmed drums, electronics and music-box melody. Flame me again, but it least has some personality – and I like it, maybe only because I like goth rock, but well.

Because now, as stated before the rest of this record is despairingly searching for some personality, oscillating between average and truly mediocre gothic songs. “Average” are some tracks sounding like generic Nightwish clones, the best example of it being the opener Der letzte Tag which I could have mistaken for a song from the aforementioned band hadn’t it been sung in German. And it’s also the best song of this sort on the album. Heart in Chains is in the same vein, this time more on the so-called “beauty and the beast” style, alternating growls and female vocals. Once again, it’s well done, but becomes rapidly tiring, and every track rapidly begins to sound more or less the same, all the more that’s there are very few tempo or structural changes all throughout the album.

Now about the “truly mediocre” songs. Those are of course awful gothic ballads featuring whiny female vocals, equally whining backing (and programmed) violins or piano. Seriously, what were you expecting from tracks called Perfect Love or Black Angel? Well, seriously? Mellow, and seeming to drag on for ages, I heard some may like this kind of songs, but I definitely don’t. Oh, and the version I own even features a bonus track (Show me Heaven) of the same style, how lucky I am.

Again, it’s far from being unlistenable. The musicians aren’t bad, and Sabine Dünser definitely is (or was) a step above most of others pitiful pop/goth singers. Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky overall exhibits a slight melancholic atmosphere, so it’s a good album to pick one track or two when you’re feeling down, though in such circumstances I’d rather spin some Draconian, My Dying Bride, Type O Negative or some of these gothic/doom band which undoubtedly are of another calibre. But attentively listening to the whole album is another story. But you know what? I expected it to be far worse.

Highlights: Der letzte Tag, Anger, Ballade

Perfect goth metal - 75%

Morthalian, July 12th, 2005

Elis is a goth metal band from Germany. I first heard about Elis in the recent issue of Outburn magazine and my curiousity was immediately piqued. I was awfully curious to hear what lead singer Sabine Duenser sounded like. After hearing samples of Elis' second album "Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky", I was immediately hooked and bought the album.

I am not really big on goth-metal because nowadays it seems like a lot of bands in the genre are trying to be the next Lacuna Coil, Evanescence, or Nightwish. Elis is definitely neither. Sabine Duenser sings like an angel. Her voice is neither thin nor weak. Her voice is very clear which makes it easier for me to understand what she is singing. If she sounds like anyone, Sabine reminds me of Liv Kristine of Leaves' Eyes. The best example of her vocal talents shows on the ballads like "Perfect Love" and "Ballade". She has one of the best voices in metal I have ever heard (next to Nightwish's Tarja Turunen).

I cannot forget about Sabine's bandmates Jurgen, Pete, and Tom really compliments. The crunchy metal guitar riffs and Sabine's angelic vocals are an excellent combination, like Beauty and the Beast. Without Sabine's vocals, the music reminds me of Nightwish on their album "Once". The music has that same aggressive guitar sound that is on "Once". I really loved the aggressiveness on "Die Zeit" in particular. The song is aggressive yet melodic thanks to Sabine's beautiful voice. Like Nightwish's Tarja and bassist Marco, Elis' bassist Tom Saxer shares vocal duties with Sabine on a couple of tracks ("Heart in Chains" and "Are You Missing Me"). His vocals are nowhere as clean and polished as Sabine's but rather gruff. As much as I liked the songs that Tom sings on, I have to say that the songs that Sabine sings alone on are much more stronger.

The songwriting on the album is very strong. There isn't an ounce of pretention which often plagues a lot of goth metal bands. I felt like I could relate to songs like "Anger" because sometimes I feel like I need someone to calm the anger in me. Same with "Lost Soul". The lyrics really spoke to me on a personal level because sometimes I do feel like a lost soul or so to speak. There were a couple of songs on the album that were written in German ("Der Letzte Tag" and "Die Zeit") which I do not know what the english translation for.

The production is really good. Alexander Krull (of Atrocity) produces the album. The guitars are really upfront yet they don't drown out the rhythmn section of the band. Same with Sabine's vocals. She does not drown out the rest of her bandmates with her vocals. The bass and drums are clearly heard on the cd. Sometimes on a lot of records, I can barely hear the bass guitar but on this album, Tom Shayer's bass playing can be heard.

There is another version of "Dark Cloud in a Perfect Sky" that has a bonus track of a cover of Maria McKee's "Show Me Heaven" but I don't have that version. I wish I did though. I wish the record company included that on the cds that aren't packaged as digipacks. Only 47 minutes long, after listening to "Dark Cloud in a Perfect Sky" left me hungering for more but that is a good thing because better to be left off wanting more than thinking that this was a mediocre album that is too long.

"Dark Cloud in a Perfect Sky" is an excellent representation of gothic metal. If you dig Lacuna Coil, Theatre of Tragedy (w/Liv Kristine), and Leave's Eyes, Elis' music is definitely right up your alley.