Elessar - Dark Desires (2013)


In symphonic metal, either you’re amazing or you’re forgettable. There is no in between. Edenbridge is one of the bands that seems to miss the mark with every album. While they have moments that make you think that they’ve finally got it, they end up pulling the rug out from underneath you. Then you have bands like Epica and Sirenia who keep getting better. I thought that Sirenia’s “Perils of the Deep Blue” was the ”be all, end all” for symphonic, female fronted metal. It looks like I was wrong. Coming out of absolutely nowhere, Elessär releases a masterpiece. Before I get started, I have to nerd-out for a second. Elessär is an elfstone that Aragorn is given in Lord of the Rings. It’s also the name given to Aragorn by the people of Minas Tirith. Enough of the nerd lesson. Saying that “Dark Desires” is a huge surprise is an understatement. If I said I’ve heard of this band before now, I’d be lying to you. I don’t know much about their history, but what I can tell you is that “Dark Desires” is Elessär’s first album and it’s incredible. If this album doesn’t get some recognition, there is something wrong with the world.

The album opens up with “Ice Queen” which has a smooth piano intro before picking up speed and letting loose. It’s also the track that introduces the listener to the voice of Alejandra Barro, which is just fantastic. As far as female metal vocals go, she is one of the absolute best in recent years. Her voice is strong, fluid and it never loses its luster. “A Kiss and a Rose” is a little slower than the previous track, but it’s still great. The song picks up about halfway through when it changes tempo and the keyboards, guitars and drums mesh perfectly. With the solo, Howen Rava really shows off his talent on the guitar. This guy is good…really good. His tone and speed are incredible. Most definitely a guitarist to watch out for. “The Lonely Warrior’s Fate” is by far the best track on the album and one of the best symphonic metal songs in years. Everything about this song flows perfectly. The chorus is the best on the album and the main riff is epic. If they had a whole album full of songs like this, they would be an unstoppable force. “Heroes Born Dead” is another great track with a mind-blowing solo. The guitar and keyboard go back and forth in pure Stratovarius fashion and it doesn’t fail to impress. “Puppet Girl” isn’t one of the better songs on the album, but it’s still not a bad track. It keeps the flow going perfectly; it just doesn’t deliver anything that hasn’t been in the last few tracks. It’s more of the same, but it’s still an okay track.

“My Soul, My Life” serves as the ballad on the album and it’s pretty good. It's a little drawn out, but the great solo and perfect vocals make up for that. The title track “Dark Desires” is another good track that picks the speed of the album back up again. It’s also the perfect track to pave the way for “Your Own Being.” With this track, the album gets a little darker and more progressive sounding. The bridge and the solo sound like Dream Theater in their prime. It’s definitely one of the highlights on the album. “We Change or We Die” is the second best track on the album. It still continues the progressive approach, but is also more melodic than the previous tracks. The chorus is the most soaring and grand sounding one on the album. The album closes with “Unforgotten Wishes” which brings the album full circle. It ends just as melodic as it started. It’s everything Elessär has done on the album rolled into one song. It ends “Dark Desires” on a high note that hopefully paves the way for the next album.

So there you have it. A band that came out of nowhere and released one of the best symphonic metal albums in years. To see this happen is an absolute rarity. Bands that have been around for ten years don’t create albums like this. Everything from the production to the musicianship is top notch. The guitars, vocals, keyboards and drums are all played with mastery that you don’t see on first albums. “Dark Desires” flows flawlessly and creates a soundscape that is hard to ignore. When it comes to female fronted metal this year, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better album than “Dark Desires.”


9.5/10

- Brian DuBois