ELVIRA MADIGAN is a Swedish one-man-project hailing from Rönninge. Marcus Hammarström is the name of the brain behind it and not only given the fact that this CD has been released on his own label Northlore it is pretty remarkable.
What strikes first is the great packaging, coming in a noble DigiPak with a classical cover by none other than Spanish artist Luis Royo. A perfect start for a CD in my eyes, given my known affinity for the visual arts on the covers. But can the musical performance live up to the great looks? Only too often labels and bands try to mask failing musical prowess with dazzling visual displays, so how does ELVIRA MADIGAN fare in this department?
Well, it has taken me quite a while to get warm with the musical material on offer, because it is not easily pinned down. To simply label it as Melodic Black Metal would do the diverse material no favour, because it is far more than just that. The often quite long compositions unite many different tempos and atmospheres within them, yet without getting progressive, while also vocally Hammarström uses both his grim voice as well as some clear passages to loosen up and instrumentals like "Gwenhwyfar" do their part to bring some well-aimed calmer diversity to the at times quite fast compositions, which though never lose focus or melody.
Sure, Melodic Black is a main ingredient of the music, but often it also ventures into more traditional Metal-forms or takes up some Gothic atmosphere, which as a whole sums up to a very diverse album, which makes it very hard to be put into words. The production in general has turned out pretty well, too, only the vocals at times are too far in the background, which still takes away a bit of the effectiveness, and some vacillations can be detected as well, yet given the circumstances of Hammarström doing it ALL completely alone, this is paling compared to the achievement altogether.
To name certain tracks is nearly impossible, so I refrain from doing so, just know that if you like your Metal diverse, interesting and have no problems with some grim vocals you really should check out ELVIRA MADIGAN, you should not regret it.