Wires of Creation, the debut album by Melbourne-based quintet Elysian, is an album that seems sure to be readily welcomed by a pretty wide spectrum of fans of contemporary metal, combining as it does complementary elements from distinct, yet inter-related metallic sub-genres. Within the eleven tracks that make up the album, fluidly melodic and infectious guitar work coils sinuously around near-mechanically precise, lock-step rhythmic hammering in a manner that recalls Gothenborg melodeath a la In Flames mingled with more rhythmically strident metalcore or groove metal (think Lamb Of God, As I Lay Dying). Meanwhile, around the peripheries of that solidly metallic core swirl altogether more atmospheric embellishments which hint at a progressive influence which broadens the scope of Elysian‘s compositions while neither seeming superfluous nor diluting the inherent aggression the band supplies in spades.
Vocalist Ben Garner’s savage, throaty roars anchor Wires of Creation firmly in ‘metal as fuck’ territory throughout. At no point does he swerve from the path of larynx-shredding roars and screams, yet at all times his lyrics are clearly legible – which is good news for those who want to growl along with the crowd-pleasing choruses at the heart of tracks like ‘Sense Offender’ (a track which brilliantly takes its inspiration from the Christian Bale-starring cult sci-fi action movie flop Equilibrium, incidentally). Instead, melody is provided in the form of guitarists Gabriel and Nathan Hutchinson’s seemingly bottomless salvo of nimble, scale-scampering riffs and freely-flowing solos. Their playing finds a nice balance between percussive bludgeon, virtuosic bluster and genuinely memorable hooks – see, for instance, ‘The Gate’, which features sections of chugging rhythm guitars draped in plaintive, echoed leads, spiralling, bumblebee melodies and ringing chord progressions, all seguéing effortlessly from one moment to the next. See also the rousing introduction to ‘The Climb From Fear’, whose billowing chords and howling leads provide an appropriately vertiginous feel to proceedings.
It’s not all skyscraping guitar pyrotechnics and paint-stripping vocal contortions, however – Elysian have a strong grasp of dynamics which shows through in their songwriting. ‘Play The Hand’, for instance, opens with spare percussion (provided by Garner), acoustic strumming and electronic glitchiness that builds into some darkly moody, mid-paced riffs, while the brief interludes ‘Eternal Breath’ and ‘Calming The Storm’ provide a pleasant respite from the album’s more full-on moments – the former combining spare, jangling chords and electronic ambience to create an almost trip-hop feel, the latter’s 80s-esque vibe putting one in mind of the soundtrack to a scene of a neon-lit LA cityscape from a Michael Mann movie.
If there’s a criticism to be made, it’s that perhaps that considering the relative diversity brought to the table instrumentally throughout Wires of Creation, Ben Garner’s vocals end up sounding a touch one-dimensional by comparison. He’s a forceful and charismatic vocalist, no doubt – but he seems especially suited to purely aggressive music, and the scope of Wires of Creation shows that the band have a lot more emotional shades to their songwriting than that. However, that minor quibble hardly takes away from the fact that Wires of Creation is a confident and impressive debut record, and one that should find itself a welcome home on the CD shelves of fans of melodic death metal, metalcore, and (to a perhaps lesser extent) progressive metal alike.
Elysian’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElysianMetal