Elysion – Someplace Better

Nothing for me is more attractive than women singing metal, I mean I have a long list and there is no point in detailing it since the situation might get out of hand “If you know what I mean”. Instead, I will just add to the list another wonderful band with a female lead singer, because who doesn’t love a female fronted metal band. The band under review is from Greece and it’s called Elysion. I had my doubts when I first got hands on the album but as soon as I heard the opening track I said to myself “This!!! I am reviewing this!!!” So why the doubts? With some great female bands on the metal scene such as Lacuna Coil, Epica and Nightwish to name a few, it isn’t easy for bands with a female lead vocalist to just come and make a statement. But trust me, I have had a listen to the album multiple times and for me it is safe to say that you guys are in for a surprise.

Founded in 2006, Elysion hails from the mythical country of Greece and the band’s mastermind and lead guitarist Johnny Zero had an important part to play since he started recruiting people with different musical backgrounds that would constitute the lineup for Elysion. The band’s lineup consists of Christianna on vocals , Johnny Zero on guitars, FxF  on bass, Laitsman on drums and Nid on guitars. Instantly they jumped into recording a demo and that was a success, receiving excellent reviews from critics all over who praised the band’s exceptionally professional sound that met the standards of the European and American acts. 2008 turned out to be an important year for the band as they were signed by Massacre Records and they recorded their first album with the honor of working with Ted Jensen (Madonna, Evanescence, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Nickelback, Korn, Marilyn Manson) and had their music mastered in his very own Sterling Sound Studios.

In the time following, ELYSION performed a serious number of gigs, both in their homeland, and abroad, some of which allowing them to share the stage with Evanescence, Leaves’ Eyes, Anneke van Giersbergen, Draconian, Lacuna Coil, Revamp, Firewind and Septicflesh. The band also became the first ever Greek band to appear at the Hard Rock Hell Festival in Wales in December 2010, joining forces with Uriah Heep, Skid Row, Paul Di’Anno, Airbourne, Helloween, U.F.O, Saxon and many other leading bands of the global scene. This appearance was followed by a most successful sold out show in Athens in early 2011.

In the next year, ELYSION began to record their second album, collaborating once again with producer Mark Adrian, having it mixed in Nashville, US, by Dan Certa (We Are The Fallen, Ben Moody, Kelly Clarkson, Seether) and mastered by David Collins (Black Sabbath, Linkin Park, Soundgarden, Alice Cooper, Mötley Crüe) in California, US. The artwork of new album “Someplace Better” was created by Gustavo Sazes (Arch Enemy, Morbid Angel, Manowar, Kamelot, Amaranthe). The album is being released via  Massacre Records in January 2014 and the same time in Japan by The Leaders Records Japan. So now I present to you Elysion’s album Someplace Better:

The first track Made of Lies begins with a grungy guitar riff instantly kicking in with some powerful backing vocals from Christianna and at that moment you will realize the quality this female vocalist has. The clarity in her vocals is very professional and the nature of her voice can only lead to one conclusion, this girl was born to sing metal . Johnny Zero on guitars provides good power chords and perfect metal riffs going well with the vocals. The overall mixing of the album is in a way that the drum kicks are very easily heard, in fact everything is balanced yet under quality headphones/earphones you can appreciate each and every musician’s work.

Someplace Better starts with some good space age sounds mixed with power chords that are palm muted for that metal sound we all appreciate. Christianna will yet again show her vocal ability, and one thing that struck me was that the band is very melodious for keeping everything basic and simple, in other words the music they are creating is just gorgeous for being “to the point” metal. The track is a decent medium paced dark/gothic metal piece.

Fairytale has a very pop style mixture of drums and mixed sounds. The first few second will make you forget the genre but will soon bring you back. It is the type of track that the band can look forward to making a video for, since it can highlight the versatility this album displays. FxF provides a very good bass line for this track, and following the verses throughout the track  Christianna begins to show her full range, plus some potential for screaming vocals indirectly since the medium heights she handles with ease. And to be honest the girl can sing.

The Promise is a slightly mellow track, with keyboards accompanying Christianna’s softer, low scale  singing, and the cello accompanying after a few verses showing a more subdued side of the band. Yet again the band is keeping it simple with all of the music work, being melodious while doing something out of the norm. Johnny Zero provides a decent mid track solo with alternate picking and some tremolo, stretching some strings, making it melodious, and taking you to a metal place where you can relax for a bit, eyes closed.

The next track Our Fate has a hardcore metal riff and the ambiance feels like a start from some Viking metal band track, Christianna enters the scene with vocals that show authority. The verses are full of intense emotions, the drum Toms are very beautifully done here by Laitsman, accompanying Christianna, giving the feels of a drum solo with verses. The middle of the track has some solo non singing verses that give a pure and essential gothic feel to the whole track. Awake is a piece what we are accustomed to hearing in contemporary gothic metal scene with a mellow part of verses and digital drums in the background. Guitar work on this track follows perfectly with the vocal line and we hear some sustained notes along the track as well, which feel very good to the ears if you are a true metal fan of this genre. The track has a very good chorus for me in terms of vocals and the first solo with the waw pedal more akin to modern metal.

Second half of the album is announced by What Lies Beneath, techno style musical notes accompanying metal guitar playing and vocals, this track has one of the catchiest chorus from the album. The track is reminiscent of Epica, such is the quality of Christianna in her professional vocals. Middle of the track has a part which is somewhat similar to some work by LinkinPark and if you only get to listen to this part without knowing what you are listening, you will think of them. I approve this track for your head banging needs, the guitar riff is surely perfect for it.

Clean guitars and cellos will announce the start of Transparent, a track that ended up surprising me by becoming my personal favorite. Very powerful and emotional vocals by Christianna in this track, it has the eerie effect of a track from the Game of Thrones in a parallel universe, easily showing the band’s versatility and the ability to touch different dimensions in making music. Johnny Zero boasts his talent of clean notes with a powerful arpeggio accompanying the whole track. This track will definitely take you to different mythical lands, will go through all of your places inside your head, and whisk you away.

With Breakfree the band returns to a purer metal, reminiscent of some metal bands from the yesteryear that weren’t that obscure. The solo and the guitar work on this track is identical to what one would hear in a Godsmack track. This is also the case with the track that follows called In Despair, the band has tried to make music that will appeal the mainstream audience along with people who admire all genres of metal. The sweet, sweet bass line on the verses is just heaven for ears. The guitar solo will remind you of Pantera, Godsmack and bands from such categories, and at the same time the use of space/techno sound effects make it appealing. Bold enough to be used by a metal band but no one is saying they are not allowed.

The last track from the album Changing is a powerful end to a very good album. The guitars are heavy metal stuff, and the vocals are Gothic/dark metal but they are done professionally in a way that everything blends in perfectly not letting your mind deviate from the core, i.e Metal. Even the guitar work is done in a way that it feels as if it is announcing the album’s end.

The album is a very good album for people who admire and appreciate bands with a female lead in their lineup. We all have heard a lot of bands from the past that have female vocalists, but with this band you won’t feel the need to say that you have heard of them before. Elysion tries to touch every aspect of Metal apart from few exceptions, and they deliver. The production quality and mixing is of highest professional quality for me and my ears were hearing everything they wanted to hear. The album has, for me, two parts, the first part is the band showing what they can do, and the second half, where, the band follows the first part’s theory, at the same time giving music that can be appreciated in the modern scene. The band’s influences are not easily identified but if you have a vast listening you can identify some of them. If you are looking for an album that you might include in your playlist, I highly recommend this because, well, it is complete for me. Have a go and look for yourself, my guess is that you’ll love the band.

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