First off, a few questions: Who the hell are these guys? Has anyone heard of them? Where the goat’s balls have they disappeared?
THE ELYSIAN FIELDS is (or was?) a Greek band whose music is a rather interesting mix of Death Metal and Black Metal with symphonic elements. “12 Ablaze” is their third offering, released in 2001 and their second album “We… The Enlightened” came out in 1998 while their debut was released in 1995. So that leads me to the conclusion that they are not that hasty to release new stuff. But where are they now? I haven’t seen any news about them and I even wouldn’t of have known such a band existed if not for the little difficulties when ordering some CDs from a Finnish net store some two years ago. You see, they (the store owner) sent me this CD along with ON THORNS I LAY’s “Angeldust” promos as an apology for the delayed shipment. A kind gesture which is made even kinder by the fact that both promos are quite excellent in their own right. Well, enough about that and on to the music shan’t we?
“Enshield My Hate Eternal” is a damn good opener. The song mixes Gothenburg style Melodic Death Metal riffs with a more Black Metal oriented straightforward blasting. There’s also some very nice keyboard passages and in the calm section there’s even some violins. The next track is a more mid-paced Death Metal slab with a lot of symphonic elements such as a piano and violins. Some of the passages bring the Austrian DARKWELL to my mind, there’s a similar raw enchantment in the song. “Rapture and The Mourning Virtue” is a more Black Metal oriented song again that also bears a vague resemblance to DARKWELL. The symphonic Black Metal parts also bring CATAMENIA to mind and although I’m not that fond of the style the song is really good. “The Entreaty Unsung” is another good example of the band’s style. Starting out with some spoken words accompanied by a piano, drums and violins the song starts to remind me of DARK LUNACY when the guitars join in and especially the passage around two minutes is purely amazing and a perfect combination of symphony and Death Metal. After that there’s a brief Black Metal part which turns into a more traditional Death Metal before the end.
In short you can definitely expect a lot of things from the band’s music. And even though I had named some bands earlier that THE ELYSIAN FIELDS resembled thinking of bands that would sound exactly like THE ELYSIAN FIELDS or even close to them is really hard because there’s so many different elements and sounds to be picked up that they may sound like some band in one part and something completely opposite come the next part. So the mix is rather unique and though it may not work all the time it sounds really good for most of the time.
The musicianship is expert and can pull both Black Metal and Death Metal styles without any problems. Same goes for the faster blastbeat driven parts and calmer atmospheric parts like the song “Weak We Stand Before Them”. The vocals are the usual Black Metal bellowing save for some whispered parts and the spoken part in “The Entreaty Unsung”. Not great but far from being bad or annoying.
The production is similar to Black Metal, not the primitive type though. It’s somewhat raw but at the same time clear and strong. The bass drum especially sounds good although it’s not that clear or strong but more like a muffled click which is typical for Black Metal and also some Brutal Death Metal production.
All in all “12 Ablaze” is a very interesting release that’s certainly not for everyone’s liking. The mix of Death and Black Metal along with orchestral elements works surprisingly well. In fact so well, that the songs can get pretty progressive at times. I have no idea who to recommend this to other than that fans of Greek Dark Metal and Dark Metal in general should check this one out but there’s also something for those who grave for symphonic elements like violins, cello and piano in their Metal. Who knows you might just find a new hidden gem to add to your collections… that is if you can find this somewhere.
The question remains: where the hell have these guys disappeared to? Yeah I have bit of a grudge because of the fact that the band doesn’t seem to have a homepage and Black Lotus records homepage hosts no new information about the band… Oh well I hope they’re doing well and hopefully we’ll hear some new stuff from them soon. (Online July 12, 2004)