ELYSIAN GATES - Crossroads

Elysian Gates - Crossroads

9 songs
46:50 minutes
***** ****


Luxembourgish band Elysian Gates had quite the rough start. At first they took a lot of time to finding their way into a studio, and then they were not lucky with the first vocalists they had. Recently they hired Noémie Leer as their vocalist, and this finally gave them the motivation they were looking for so hard. If you compare their new album Crossroads with the preceding debut album Destination Unknown, it is obvious that there are light years separating these records in terms of quality.

Of course the attractive vocalist is an undeniable eyecatcher. Noémie may have screamed her guts out in her thrash metal band Rude Revelation, but she showed already sometimes in the past that she can do more than just that. Elysian Gates’ symphonic metal with a light prog touch offer her to develop her skills in an unprecedented way. Noémie has a very clear and strong voice that manage also the higher parts without her ever faltering. As a tribute to her musical past, she sometimes allows for some growls, which distinguish Elysian Gates from similar genre bands.

The album has a rather commercial beginning with Crossroads and Whispering Premonition, both very catchy tracks that remind me of Edenbridge. In the middle of the album, the band surprises with the ten minute long Far From Home, which is the band’s magnum opus. This song starts out mysteriously with parallels to Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. Next to the usual instruments, we get some cello and zither parts and even an opulent female choir which adds true depth. This very intricate track is definitely the record’s highlight and exceeds by far the quality of their previous long track Seven Angels. As a contrast, the band continues with the ballad Mary Ann on which Noémie not only delivers wonderful mellow vocals, but also plays an excellent violin part. The following material is straighter again, but the musicians always pay attention to add enough mood swings and unexpected twists and turns to elevate the band to something bigger. As a bonus track, the band offers a newly recorded version of their hit Northern Winds which was a benefit song for Sea Shepherd in 2014.

Elysian Gates have become more mature and sophisticated over the years. The album’s running time may be considered quite concise, as the band was more interested in quality than quantity on Crossroads. The frequent shows they played over the last few years have left their traces, and it is great to see that after initial hiccups, things finally and deservedly run smoothly for Elysian Gates.

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