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Elis - Catharsis 4.5/5

Reviewed: 2-1-10


1. Core of live
2. Twinkling shadow
3. Warrior's tale
4. Des lebens traum, des traumes leben
5. I come undone
6. Firefly
7. Morning star
8. Das kleine ungeheuer
9. Mother's fire
10. Rainbow
11. The dark bridge

Elis is a gothic power metal band from Liechtenstein and this is their 4th studio CD. The songs are generally fast and crunchy with frequent driving aggressive riffs and well-placed power metal leads, along with catchy, poppy, upbeat choruses. Most of the songs are guitar-driven with sparse backing keys, but several feature a more gothic approach with dramatic wall-of-sound symphonic keys. There is nice variety in style in their CD discography, from quite poppy on ‘God's silence, Devil's temptation’ to dark and heavy on ‘Dark clouds in a perfect sky’ to a pleasant blend of both of these styles on ‘Griefshire’. Catharsis continues the blend of styles but takes the songwriting to another level in terms of quality, intensity and sheer emotional impact. The choruses are even more alluring and infectious than those on ‘God's silence, Devil's temptation’ and the riffs are extraordinarily more powerful and engaging than anything they’ve done on ‘Dark clouds in a perfect sky’ or ‘Griefshire’. On top of this, there are many more interesting guitar leads, and the more pronounced gothic influence in several of the songs strongly reminds me of Satyrian’s excellent CD ‘Eternitas’, and even of ‘Widow's weeds’ era Tristania when they slow things down a bit.

A significant part of Elis’s improvement is their new vocalist, Sandra Schleret, perhaps best known from her singing in the now defunct progressive gothic metal band Dreams of Sanity. Elis’s former vocalist, Sabine Dünser (who passed away quite untimely in 2006) had a pretty and reasonably expressive voice, though somewhat laid-back; she fit well with the music, but Sandra’s voice was absolutely made for music like this. She sings with confidence and power with an incredible variety of styles, from soaring soprano to a sort of deliberate dramatic alto; she is very expressive in her delivery, often using subtle variations in pitch and tempo to add an enchanting richness and depth to the melody. Another significant improvement is the much more frequent use of Tom Saxer’s deep death vocals; they are exquisitely well done and add a considerable dimension of aggression and menace to many of the songs.

We had to wait over 3 years for it, but this is certainly Elis’s finest and most mature CD to date and should not be missed if you enjoy the poppier side of heavy "beauty and the beast" gothic/power metal.




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