Elysion are new to me but they've been around for a long time, even though this is only their third album, arriving almost a decade after its predecessor, Someplace Later in 2014. They're prominent enough to have a Wikipedia page, but there's not much there. They're from Athens, built around a couple of guitarists, and they've held a pretty stable line-up since their formation in 2006. The only change since their early days is Andreas Roufagalas stepping on bass last year to replace founder member Antonios Bofilakis.
They play gothic metal, but with a very commercial, alt rock edge. This isn't old school gothic metal drenched in velvet and mahogany and with either a deep and resonant male voice or a beauty and the beast contrast. There's little here that's reminiscent of Tristania or Lacrimas Profundere. It's radio friendly gothic metal, like Evanescence but heavier, so maybe more like modern Lacuna Coil. It's built out of simple but effective crunchy riffs and led by a clean and powerful female voice that knows exactly how to turn on the emphasis. It's telling that this seems to be metal over rock, but I do not see a page for the band at Metal Archives.
Blink of an Eye is a strong opener that never lets up. Crossing Over adds more commercial sheen. Raid the Universe adds samples and more electronica. Those three, between them, provide the band's sound in a nutshell and all three of them sound good. This is a very easy album to listen to, as if an initial listen is actually a tenth or twentieth time through. I'm sure that's very deliberate through careful songwriting, because the music behind Christiana Hatzimihali's voice is thoroughly simple, designed to underpin her rather than to show off. Sure, Nikos Despotopoulos manages to carve a little space out of songs for decent guitar solos, but then it's swiftly back to the vocals.
Frankly, this lives or dies on those vocals and what balance Hatzimihali can find between melody and power. The verses are all melody and they build to the title or the chorus or whatever's there to stand out just a bit more than the verses, with Hatzimihali turning on that emphasis for effect too. As long as she does that, and she manages it consistently across the album, then this is good stuff and a whole slew of these ten tracks ought to find themselves friendly to radio stations.
The question you need to ask yourselves, if you're into gothic metal of any description, is whether that's enough for you and that's because there's not a lot more here. Blink of an Eye does tease a little, with a decent guitar solo and a teasing operatic voice soaring behind whispers at one point. I like the keyboard work that's mostly confined in the background to Crossing Over. Those are the first two tracks here, so it's all promising for a while, but there's not much else added after that, so, if you're looking for more than crunchy guitars and powerful female vocals, the songs will blur together somewhat. Was that a sample during This Time? I probably dreamed it.
And that puts this album in an odd place. Because it's so consistent in approach, these songs serve as variations on a simple theme and that means that, after a couple of times through, there was a lack of anything to keep me paying attention and it all faded into the background, maybe a guitar solo or vocal line pulling back here and there. However, the songs, as simple as they are, never got old, so that, even when this became background ambience, I was still listening on some level and it entertained me.
I ended up thinking of it like a dentist's surgery. You know when you're lying there, waiting for the numbing agent to work and all you can do is listen to the radio station to which they're tuned. If it's a good one, then you feel OK because whatever pain you're in will soon be gone and you can listen to good music until then. If it's a bad one, then you feel uncomfortable, as if you're being confined against your will and you're already failing to manage the ordeal even before the dentist arrives. This album would serve as a good radio station for my next visit.