The field of melodic death metal is one that is perhaps slightly lost on me. I generally tend to feel like the style of vocals detracts somewhat from my overall enjoyment of the songs due to their excessively grating and incomprehensible nature, leading me to question the somewhat contradictory label, ‘melodic’. This strikes me as something of a misnomer. The genre seems to be replete with amazing musicians who are (perhaps literally) screaming out for an intelligible lyric.
I can see the oft-cited argument that this vocal style lends itself to this type of metal, but I still feel that the ability to actually sing should appear somewhere within the manifesto of anybody who aspires to be called a vocalist – though my love of Lamb of God and Randy’s voice would appear to contradict this theory.
With this caveat firmly established, there were many creative and inspired surprises to be found within Australian metallers Elysian’s debut album, Wires of Creation.
The album kicks off in a characteristically brutal style, with the crunchy riffs and sneaky guitar runs of Man’s Design thumping into a stomping beatdown with a liltingly gentle picked section woven into the end that keeps you on your toes.
There are flashes of brilliance that are reminiscent of Way of the Fist era Five Finger Death Punch in the way the double-kick mimics the thrashing chugged guitars to amplify the overall effect – notably in The Climb from Fear and Sense Offender. However, when these sections come, I find myself once again yearning for the occasional soaring melody to counterpoint the primal aggression.
Some of the lead work, which peppers the main riffs, brings to mind Unearth in the way that guitarists Gabriel and Nathan spank the fretwork whilst the primary riff rolls on like some kind of lumbering metal beast
All-in-all it’s an excellent debut album. My primary criticisms are based on my own personal prejudices against the styles of vocals that dominate in death metal and should, under no circumstances, be taken as gospel. Musically, Elysian bring a ferocious combination of ragingly mighty riffs and spine-crunchingly fast guitar work which would garner them a healthy (and very hairy) following, were they to hop in a plane for the long and arduous journey over to the UK.