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Elvaron - 2016 - "Ghost of a Blood Tie"

(63:54, Fantai'zic Productions)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. The Journey Within 7:38
2. Silent Windows 9:03
3. A Prise to Pay 5:39
4. From a Brother to a Shadow 6:57
5. No Town of Mine 9:01
6. Run Away in Fright 6:54
7. Distant Shores 3:27
8. The Man Who Wears My Face 15:15


Shuguang Li - keyboards, piano
Julien Skorka - bass, vocals
Matthieu Morand - vocals, guitars, dobro
Frederic Renaut - drums, percussion
Alexia Balander - clarinet
Christelle Harau - accordion
Laura Kimpe - vocals
Timmy Michels - vocals
Francois Thisy - guitars

Prolusion. French band ELVARON was formed back in 1993, and have a history of releasing a new album every 4 to 5 years ever since their formation, more often than not with some line-up alterations in between album releases. Following a nine year long spell of inactivity they returned with their fifth album "Ghost of a Blood Tie" in 2016, a production that was released through French label Fantai'zic Productions.

Analysis. When it comes to the world of progressive rock, Elvaron is a fairly typical example of what I often describe as classic progressive metal: A band that in general style and approach may be compared with the first giants of this style of music. Where bands such as Dream Theater will be an obvious name drop. Elvaron doesn't explore their specific style, but they use many of the same ingredients in a fairly similar manner. That means that we are treated to an album with rather long songs for starters, and with a liberal amount of instrumental passages finding their way into just about all of the songs too. The guitar riff and keyboard combinations tend to dominate, and we do get our fair share of alterations in pace and intensity as well, with numerous arrangements and often multiple themes as well. But without the inclusions of the more expressive and intense modern metal elements that came with the second generation of progressive metal bands, and without any obvious references towards other styles of music as a part of the totality. The main strengths of Elvaron is in the guitar and keyboard combinations. They have a knack for the creation of compelling, majestic riff and keyboards combinations for starters, and a clever manner in which to play out guitar riff and piano motifs against each other to boot. The classic organ and guitar combinations is very much present throughout as well, and the more delicate interludes and transitions with plucked wandering guitar details with or without keyboard support is also a recurring feature. Keyboardist Li has the most impressive skill set however, with a very good feel for what sounds to use and how to deploy them to the best effect possible. With a tight rhythm department in support, this is an album that have all the ingredients to be of not a brilliant then at least a good album. There is a but here of course, and that boils down to the vocals. For my sake they were a detrimental feature throughout, be it in the guise of a dark toned almost guttural and strained mode of delivery or of a gentler but subtly wavering and accented one. A few sections here and there with a less dark toned, rough sounding vocal style came across as if not great but at least passable, but otherwise my impression was that the vocals were uncontrolled, and a creator of discord in the greater totality of this album. How much or not this will be regarded as a negative obviously depends on the listener, but for someone like me, who basically listen to vocals as one more instrument, the overall effects was rather detrimental throughout I'm afraid. Others may well feel different, this comes down to both personal taste and the manner in which any person listens to music.

Conclusion. Elvaron is a band that should be in the field of vision for just about anyone that have a strong fondness for classic era progressive metal. The compositions are well mapped out, and the guitar and keyboard combinations in particular are of a well above average quality. The vocals will make or break interest in this band however, and if nothing else it will limit their overall appeal. But for those not all that invested in this aspect of a band's overall sound, who also enjoy this type of progressive metal, Elvaron is another band that merits a check at some point.

Progmessor: September 20th 2017
The Rating Room

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