Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Dark Element - S/T (2017)

I kind of feel bad for Anette Olzon, she never really got a fighting chance when she replaced Tarja in Nightwish. Her time in the band was anything but pleasant, despite doing an alright job on two full length records. Sure, she was not a good fit (Nightwish needs a strong female vocalist, and Anette is more delicate), but I always hoped that she would bounce back into the metal scene some day to get her redemption.

Well, seems like she is getting an opportunity this year, because together with former Sonata Arctica guitarist (and co-founder) Jani Liimatainen, they have created The Dark Element, a new symphonic power metal band that tries to squeeze their way in to a genre that already has tons of talent. Looking from the outside, it is a project that certainly sounds interesting. Jani is a great songwriter and seems to know how to utilize those around him to make the product as good as possible, just look at the latest Cain's Offering album "Stormcrow" for proof.

Sure enough, this album definitely uses Anette's vocals better than Nightwish did, even if a lot of the music here is directly borrowed from the legendary Finnish band. "The Dark Element" is an incredibly melodic record with tons of catchy melodies and choruses, sure to leave an impact on you whether you like it or not. But for a band that is called The Dark Element, there is very little darkness in this record. We get some heavy riffs and some gloomy atmospheres, but this is a fairly jolly album, and that is honestly not a bad thing, just think it is false advertisement that your band have a name like The Dark Element (and an album cover as gruesome and disturbing as the one that is fronting said album), but play music that is pretty harmless in its nature.

As said before, this album has a good amount of Nightwish in it, like just listen to "My Sweet Mystery", that opening with the haunting keys and bone crushing riffs is literally stolen from "Dark Passion Play". Fortunately, I do not think it overshadows the whole album, because it does have more in common with Cain's Offering, but with some more symphonic moments sprinkled around. It feels very natural in a way, taking Jani's preferred style and incorporating Anette into it all, creating a nice fusion between the musicians.

And there are some really good music in here. The previously mentioned "My Sweet Mystery" is a fantastic, powerful song that certainly gets you going, "Here's To You" is simply loud and proud, "Dead To Me" have a really nice rhythm and a very satisfying chorus (even if it does steal from Nightwish again), "The Ghost And The Reaper" is nice and heavy, and even some of the calmer moments are really nice, giving some nice variety (although, I gotta say, the lyrics in "Someone You Used To Know" give off creepy stalker vibes, when I think it is supposed to be a lost love story).

Overall, I do not think The Dark Element will wow anyone with its simplicity, but it has enough good content to go around. This debut record is certainly very enjoyable despite it borrowing from other bands within the genre, the strength of the songs helps you get through the record with ease, and there is enough chemistry in here to really make this project last for some time. So if you are a fan of any of the two main contributors, you should definitely check this release out, even if it is a little brighter than the name and artwork suggests.

Songs worthy of recognition: My Sweet Mystery, Here's To You, The Ghost And The Reaper

Rating: 7/10 Halos

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