In the past seven years, French rockers KARELIA have gone through a number of stylistic changes. They first started out as a Power Metal band, touring with the likes of KAMELOT and AT VANCE, but eventually dropped their speedy double-bass rhythms in favour of moodier mid-tempo arrangements. Their third album, “Restless,” shows the band fully embracing the Electro tendencies shown on their previous effort, “Raise,” and the result is a satisfying mix between catchy Pop and dark Electro.
Opening up the album is the title track, and while it’s a little disappointing compared to the rest of the album, it gives a good indication of the trademark KARELIA sound: intense, heavy, moody, and catchy. The next two tracks, “Trial” and “Mirror, Mirror,” blow everything to pieces; they’re two great songs that are worthy of airplay on any Alternative radio station. Much of the rest of the album hovers between the quality of the title track and these two hits.
The band claims that their days of Progressive Power Metal are far behind them, but “Restless” contains an interesting little gem called “Please Come On In.” The song is a great mix between darker Power Metal and Karelia’s own Pop-influenced sound, and it certainly wouldn’t sound out of place on a modern-day KAMELOT album. At any rate, it comes at exactly the right point in the album, where the mid-tempo Electro songs are just beginning to become stale.
KARELIA included two rather bizarre covers on “Restless” in an attempt to avoid stereotypes: “Lift Me Up” by MOBY and the infamous “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M. Neither cover is particularly impressive, and the album likely would have been better off without their inclusion.
Overall, “Restless” is quite a decent album from this French quintet. A few unnecessary covers and a couple of songs that miss the mark mar the overall experience a bit, but I would still recommend this album to fans of Electro Metal. Buy it for the fresh sound!
(Online May 21, 2008)