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TRACK LIST: 1. Human 0:25 2. Challenger of Gravity 4:25 3. The Escalator 5:23 4. Of the Man Who Died 4:22 5. Twelve 6:07 6. Caught in a Wheel 3:16 7. Trail of Beggar’s 4:19 8. Eyes Grow Colder 5:56 9. Velocity 9: 06 LINEUP: J – vocals Tuomo Raisanen – basses Kasperi Heikkinen – lead guitars Tommi Leinonen – rhythm guitars Johannes Salo – synthesizers With: Jussi Raatikainen – drums
Prolusion. Here is a relatively young outfit from Finland, ironically named ELENIUM. “Caught in a Wheel” is their second full-length release and you won’t relax while listening to it, you may believe me.
Analysis. Being aware that Human – a tiny keyboard cut with which the CD begins – is inseparably linked with its follow-up and that some posterior pieces have very similar keyboard intros, too, I feel free to take “Caught in a Wheel” as an eight-track outing. When that is done, the album appears as stylistically quite a uniform creation where only one of the songs (to be mentioned last of all) is on many levels different from the others. What we get in most cases here, namely on the songs Challenger of Gravity, The Escalator, Of the Man Who Died, Trail of Beggar’s, Caught in a Wheel and Eyes Grow Colder, is near-instantly accessible music which, nonetheless, meets the demands of the prog rock genre. I would with a light heart label it as neo-progressive symphonic Doom Metal, but the guitar riffs suggest a crossover between Power Metal and NWBHM, whilst the vocals are brutal and are only a bit milder than ‘classic’ death-style singing. Of the several bands and recordings that can be used as reference points, I’ve settled on “Wildhoney” by Sweden’s Tiamat. Really, it is enough to hear/recall the hardest songs from that album to realize that they could have served as Elenium’s inspiration. Well, whether the Finnish guys are indeed influenced by their neighbors’ classic or not, keyboardist Johannes Salo and lead guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen (when soloing) each sound a lot like Waldemar’s Sorychta’s and Magnus Sahlgren’s apprentice in absentia, respectively. And shoot me down if – the slow, space rock-tinged – Twelve isn’t similar to Planets from the same “Wildhoney”. To dot all i’s and cross all t’s regarding the album I should only mention that, with the exception of Trail of Beggar’s, all the tracks from the disc’s imaginary Side B are richer in art-rock-like as well as vocal-free arrangements than the others, the closing one, Velocity, being largely instrumental and generally the most progressively saturated piece, reminiscent of mid-‘90s Threshold in approach.
Conclusion. The band’s own definition of their music, brutal Techno Metal, doesn’t correspond to the actual state of affairs, unless they played so on their previous outing, “For Giving for Getting” (2004), which I haven’t heard. As to the hero of this occasion, it is only in the very finale of its title track where the music takes the shape of Black Metal – a style that requires more technical skill than the one we witness most of the time here. Nonetheless, this is a fairly impressive creation, free of any faults on the one hand and full of mysterious, captivating atmosphere on the other. If you enjoy progressive Doom Metal (no I didn’t make a slip: only think a modified, speeded-up variant of the genre) with growling, don’t hesitate to check out this disc.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: November 10, 2009
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