And years are but a few…"
One Word Review: Sweetness
It's no secret that I am a major fan of Jani Liimatainen's music (As in Sonata Arctica first albums and Cain's Offering). He has a unique way of infusing his very positive music with a deep sense of melancholy and personal lyrics, only sidelined by Redemption, as far as I am aware (band suggestions are welcome).
When this project, fronted by former Nightwish vocalist, Anette Olzon, was announced, it sounded like a perfect marriage, and I am happy to say that their debut album lives up to my high expectations. After the first few listens, I found the depth I was hoping for, and what on the surface, sounded like simple, catchy songs, developed into something much more. Every single song has risen to be amazing and together, they become one slick (think melted sugar), free-flowing unity of melody and emotion.
Annette Olzon's voice is a natural focus, and she delivers. Her voice has a confident shine, which gives the songs a strong sense of presence, and in turn, makes the lyrics convincing. It's all in the delivery, and she brings it home.
The album has a good mix between ballads (2) and heavier songs (9), all of which, deserve their own spotlight. The title track opens the album in the most melodic way, even my daughter was singing along to the chorus, from the second time she heard the song.
Several songs have a decidedly Nightwishy ambiance, especially My Sweet Mystery and Dead To Me. Not in a derivative way, but working more as an ironic wink to the past. The opening moment of My Sweet Mystery is pure Storytime, and I see Dead To Me as a close cousin to Bye Bye Beautiful, where the lyrics feel like one big metaphor. I especially dig the growl in the wings of the song, which underlines the Nightwish connection, in what I found to be an extremely humorous way.
Speaking of Dead To Me, the song is a definite album highlight. The entrance to its chorus gets me every time. So powerful.
Another powerful moment is Here's To You. Right from its dramatic opening, it is a perfect momentum builder for my favorite ballad of the album, Someone You Used To Know, and I feel like the two songs are linked by their lyrics. The keyboard is utilized to great effect in Here's To You, constantly being there to add extra punch to the song. And what a chorus.
The ballads are simply stunning, with Someone You Used To Know making a huge impression. Anette sings this with just the right touch of emotion, and as the song develops, she hits all the right notes. The lyrics are vintage Jani, laced with feelings of self-doubt, unconditional love, loss and hope, and as the song progresses from fragile softness embraced by longing, through to a musically heavier stance, the lyrics take a convincing, angrier turn. The whole way the song builds is just beautiful and it delivers a strong impact.
Heaven In You Heart overflows with sweetness and sadness, led by a wonderful melody and Annette delivering the lyrics with a fragile sense of vulnerability. The song is just pure, blissful balladry perfection.
Aside from the songs, I have mentioned above, the rest are most excellent as well. The "bouncing on a cloud", opening to Raise the Dead, the positive message of Last Good Day and the gothic atmosphere of The Ghost And The Reaper are just a few moments out of many highlights scattered all over the album.
Only One Who Knows Me works as the perfect closer, as it delivers a sense of closure in an absolutely wonderful way.
I met up with at least a dozen fist-clenching moments, where I just wanted to sing along loudly because everything felt perfect. The Dark Element is exactly what I needed at this point in time, an album which is easy to get into, has enough depth to stay interesting and is filled with songs that overflow with emotion.
Powerful, hymn-like, melodic, emotional and professionally crafted. All mixed together, these features make The Dark Element a killer album. I can't wait to hear these songs live next year at the Sweden Rock Festival!
Written By Steen
Online: Saturday, December 2, 2017
The Dark Element
My Sweet Mystery
Here's To You
Dead To Me
The Ghost And The Reaper