Elvellon - Spellbound (EP) (2015)

Despite what the explosion of bands in this scene would have you believe, making convincing symphonic metal is anything but easy. It's a balancing act, really, and a mile high one at that. Lean too far to the right, and metal purists accost you for trying to pass your feeble symphony off as anything but weak. Too far to the left, and the orchestral elements that quite literally define the genre can get lost in heavy handed guitars and drums. Be indecisive, and you might as well pack up your keyboard and go home. It's a situation in which you can rarely win. But Elvellon, despite only a short time together, these potential problems never showed up on their radar. Masterminded by keyboardist Pascal Pannen, this German five piece already has the strength and swagger of an accomplished veteran. And though we're nine months late to the party, their new EP, Spellbound, is the sort of catchy, swooning music that fans of the genre have waited all year for.

Knowing, going in, that this is a band in their infancy, the layer of polish that is clearly evident is both surprising and impressive. It's a swirling type of melody here, something Oraculum embraces exceedingly well. It reinforces the need for balance, standing halfway between metal and symphony, and ties it all together with a voice that is both forceful and soothing. Nele Messerschmidt embodies the prototypical singer for any band in the genre; her voice boasts confidence in it's soaring range but also a knack for accessibility. That happy medium is something many bands struggle to find in a frontwoman, and it can often dictate the direction a band takes thereafter. But in Elvellon, versatility is a necessary trait in all facets, musical and vocal. Look no further than Dead-End Alley for proof. One part nightmare, one part daydream, it's a near flawless execution of the entire spectrum of symphonic metal. Guitars squeal, percussion splashes and crashes through verse and chorus, keys providing a rich orchestral background, and a voice that can unify the most philosophically different fans.

It's rare for a band this early in their time together to do so much in such a short time. When you're dealing with the two headed monster than is symphonic metal, let alone of the female fronted variety, there are so many pitfalls one could fall into to hinder the development of a band and their eventual signature sound. Somehow, Elvellon have skirted those certain downfalls, and produced and EP that is well rounded and refined. They haven't scaled back any piece of their sound for the sake of safety or acceptance - one listen to the album closer Shores To Aeon and that would be abundantly clear - instead handing you a self portrait that is frightening accurate and even more frighteningly excellent. Messerschmidt stands firm as one of the best new female vocalists we've heard in some time, and with keyboardist and composer Pascal Pannen at the helm, it'd be safe and smart to expect the follow-up to Spellbound to go even further to solidifying their place as one of symphonic metal's brightest young stars.

8.5/10

Bandcamp - https://elvellon.bandcamp.com/

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ElvellonBand