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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: The Dark Element is a dark, but joyful collaboration

SOMETIMES you get collablorations, and sometimees...The Dark Element is a new musical collaboration featuring former Nightwish vocalist Anette Olzon and Finnish guitarist and composer Jani Liimatainen (Sonata Arctica, Cain’s Offering).

With Jani responsible for playing the guitars, keyboards and programming their self titled debut album (due for release 10/11/17) delivers what is essentially a traditional European female fronted symphonic, melodic power metal sound but with a nice mix of AOR and hard rock twists and grooves.

The addition of Jani’s former Cain’s Offering bandmates, Jonas Kuhlberg on bass and Jani “Hurtsi” Hurula on drums means the band are already a tight formidable unit and with four singles already released and Olzon sounding better than ever this release comes with a lot of anticipation and totally

First single and opening track ‘Dark Element’ sets the mood with it’s deep keys and heavy drumming intro before the bass and guitar kick in. A mid tempo number with Olzon  showcasing her vocal range with consummate ease, it’s a cracking start to the album.

‘My Sweet Mystery’ has Nightwish written all over it in terms of tempo, guitar riffs and vocals. A solid symphonic rock track with Olzon singing in a lower register for effect and producing a vocal delivery which has a deep, rich tone to it. It also has a catchy sing-a-long chorus and a tasty solo from Jani.

‘Last Good Day’ has a slower rock groove tempo to it with a great riff throughout as well as a very tight rhythm section and an interesting twist in the vocal arrangement.

Track four ‘Here’s To You’ has a melodic instrumental intro that develops into a very catchy dramatic song that contrast the lyrics which are dark, moody and seem to have a personal feel to them.

By the time you have listened to the next four songs, ‘Someone You Used To Know’, ‘Dead To Me’, ‘Halo’ and ‘I Cannot Raise The Dead’ you begin to feel that lyrically you are being taken on a very dark and personal journey.

From the pain Olzon suggests on ‘Someone You used To Know’ to the fast paced power synths , tight rhythm section and superb riffs the songs are all wonderfully written and delivered.

The powerful background vocals on ‘Dead To Me’ add depth to the song and with the tempo and mood changes it’s a prime example of symphonic metal at its best and one of the strongest songs on the album. ‘Halo’ continues in the same vein while ‘I Cannot Raise The Dead’ is a more AOR orientated song with a great groove to it and another very nice, if a bit short, solo by Jani before the main riff kicks in again.

Track nine ‘The Ghost and the Reaper’ starts with a fast tempo mix of synth and guitar before developing into a steady mix of mid tempo symphonic metal and hard rock riffs driven along by the bass and drums. Olzon’s vocals again stand out and are complimented with some great harmonies.

‘Heaven of Your Heart’ is a ballad with soft vocals over a light piano, a beautiful delivery from Olzon telling the story of a modern day failed love affair with photographs being the only memory of what used to be.

The album finishes with ’Only One Who Knows Me’ a strong hard rock song with Olzon’s vocals to the fore which builds nicely into an AOR style number. There’s a strong bass line and complimentary drumming again before a subtle keyboard and orchestration section takes us back into the hard rock riff again. Lyrically this song is more hopeful and upbeat and ends with a faded out solo from Jani that could have gone on a bit longer.

Overall this is an excellent debut album and another great release from the Frontiers label. Well worth parting with a few of your hard earned shekles!

Hopefully this will get toured as it deserves to be heard live.

Review by Andy Gillen

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