I guess that everybody has heard the tragic story surrounding the latest ELIS album “Griefshire”, but for all of you, who have not, vocalist Sabine Duenser unexpectedly died shortly after finishing her vocal sections from a cerebral hemorrhage, leaving the band distraught, but they decided to continue on and finished the album in Sabine’s memory. In any way, it is not an easy album to review and judge.
The past albums had been a mix of Gothic and Symphonic Metal and the Liechtenstein band has not strayed from this sound and is once more delivering a partly powerful, partly emotional experience, which equally draws from both genres and adds some songs with German lyrics on top of that, which just as on the previous effort adds a special factor to their sound, something that they (again) should have used more often… The album is based on the concept of two brothers, who are searching for revelation in a religious frenzy.
Musically opener “Tales From Heaven Or Hell” sets out with driving double-bass and a full Symphonic Metal onslaught, showcasing the divergence of heavy guitars and pounding drums and Sabine’s soft vocals at their best. And here the band also shows that they seem to have taken in some more traditional Metal in their approach to their music, giving it a bit more of an original edge than before. German “Die Stadt” then brings the other side of ELIS to the fore, the more atmospheric and emotional one, which sets the musical counterpart to the heavy power.
Overall it is good to hear that ELIS are more than a one-trick pony, knowing how to shake things up, be it with the surprisingly heavy attack of “Phoenix From The Ashes” or the emotional ballad “How Long” or the aggression of a “The Burning”, which also brings in a few growls. Embedded into a very good production the Liechtenstein-Swiss band also manages to put their songs into the right aural environment.
Overall “Griefshire” definitely is the best album this band has released so far and deserves your attention, even without the drama surrounding it.
(Online December 15, 2006)