|Genre||Melodic Symphonic Metal|
|Release Date||10 Nov 2017|
Melodic Symphonic goes electronic in The Dark Element’s self titled debut album, featuring Anette Olzon (ex. Nightwish), Jani Liimatainen(Cain’s Offering, ex. Sonata Arctica), and Jonas Kuhlberg and Jani “Hurtsi” Hurula (both Cain’s Offering). Though it is clearly still a metal album at its core, the balance leans noticeably to the digital side; the rhythm guitar is almost ever-present and the harmonies are strong, but the catchy hooks and synth often take the helm. The production quality is crisp and refined, but much of the song structure is simplistic. There are quite a few shortcomings that are clearly apparent that take the album from being potentially great to settling at satisfactory. Nonetheless, each song offers a bit of variety and the lyrical content is poetic and heartfelt, with themes of love and heartbreak recurring throughout the entire album.
Many of the songs sound as if the rhythm guitar parts of Nightwish and the melodies of Amberian Dawn got together and put out a pop album. The product, however, manages to work well enough and not sound distractingly derivative. The opening track, ‘The Dark Element’, brings good guitar riffs, an impressive guitar solo, and doesn’t overwhelm with the synth tracks. My Sweet Mystery and Halo are also likable songs. There is no lack of energy or vitality in the album, making it easy to get heads nodding, though not banging.
One huge problem in this album is the lack of flavour in the finer points of the songs. Even with the better sections of the album, such as the fantastic guitar solo in ‘My Sweet Mystery’, and the songs ‘The Ghost and the Reaper’ and ‘Heaven of Your Heart’, there isn’t much happening in the corners. Furthermore, the drum parts are disappointing, as they never really go beyond the very uniform beats with fills or more advanced grooves. Sadly, Anette Olzon, despite being one of the best female metal vocalists there is, rarely gets an opportunity to hit the music with her full potential, resulting in a rather average performance. ‘Someone You Used to Know’ has potential to be a great slow song, but fails to build into any sort of climax, instead carrying the same feel until suddenly picking up for the last chorus.
Specifically, as mentioned above, two tracks stick out. ‘The Ghost and the Reaper’ is simply fantastic. The interludes do a great job transitioning into the next verses and the key change at the end is executed well. ‘Heaven of Your Heart’ is a placid yet powerful song and its emotional weight is felt throughout its entirety, largely due to Olzon’s beautiful and mournful voice. It flows very smoothly, leading to a rich guitar solo before pulling right back and peacefully concluding.
Overall, The Dark Element is competent. It’s easy to listen to and, despite a lineup that should have delivered something notable, there is nothing that makes it expressly bad. There are a few parts that are exceptional but it isn’t enough to ascend the album to exceptional status. I am curious to see whether or not The Dark Element puts out another record and if they will release something a little more complex, which is well within their ability.
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