Elsesphere - Blind Leading The Blind

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Lucretia Records
Catalog Number: LU20013-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:24:00

I normally save this for the end of a review, but let me say that Blind Leading The Blind is in my top 3 prog metal releases of the year. In the prog metal world as of late, bands are releasing "unprogressive metal" discs, changing styles to meet the trends, and generally it has been a disappointing year for progressive metal as a whole.

Elsesphere is here to show that progressive metal is alive and well in some bands. What sets this band apart from others is their ability to change styles effortlessly several times within a song. Some people have accused them of being Dream Theater clones, and still others have claimed that they just "can't get into the band" but not sure why. The band emerged from nowhere and produced a disc worthy of being a progressive metal representative to the uninitiated.

The core of Elsesphere's sound lies in the fact that they take a very progressive approach without being overly complex or uninteresting, and mix in a gloomy, almost doomy approach to the verses and throw in a more accessible chorus, and then head into a very complex instrumental, and then head back into the song. This is basically done with a bone-crunching guitar sound, one that would make Doom fans happy. A drummer who refuses to stay still, synthesizers for lead keyboard, and a singer who is very aggressive, in your face and "throws" the songs at you whether you like it or not. One thing that remains the same through all of this, is the fact that the band never loses sight of melodies. How they can come up with warm melodies to grab onto throughout all of this coldness, gloom and doom and progressive music is the key to this band's success at the moment.

The singer, Jonny Berndtsson, is a mid-ranged singer who stays basically in his range and hardly drifts for a moment. His approach is simple - to take the songs and present them to the listener in a cold, aggressive manner. He pulls this off wonderfully, never straining or trying to do anything that his voice can't handle. While some people have complained about his voice, I find that the combination of the music, along with his very aggressive approach makes this band what it is. Some would say the music calls for a higher pitched, melodic singer due to the nature of the music, but it's his almost cold / unemotional / aggressive style that makes this so interesting. Along with him, the guitarist happens to be a monster. The drummer certainly subscribes to the progressive metal school of drumming, and the bass player / keyboard player ride along complementing the whole project.

The production is not the greatest in the world; however, it is nicely recorded with a few minor faults here and there. The drums and guitar are nicely placed in the mix, but the bass is a little on the boomy side and needs a tighter sound. The keyboards sound good, but could be up in the mix just a bit. The major problem here is that the vocals are placed way too far back in the mix, especially for an aggressive singer like this. He needs to be felt as well as heard, and his talents are just put back in the mix. He can be heard, but it seems that the music overpowers him at times, and his voice needs to be felt like the music. Had the guitar sound been just a little more heavier or doomier sounding than it is, the music would certainly pound the listener into oblivion instead of just pounding the listener as it stands. Overall, the sound is good, but it does need some tweaking to make this band felt as well as heard.

This band is what progressive metal is all about. They have taken a variety of sounds and styles, and melded it into the Elsesphere sound. The bottom line is, if you don't mind some gloom and doom and some droning moments in your melodic, sometimes aggressive, a tad complex, and all mixed up into a nice bundle of music, you should love what Elsesphere has to offer. If the band stays on this track, kicks up the sound a bit, their next release should take the progressive metal world by storm. As it stands, if you're looking for excellent, melodic progressive metal that have a cold / warm battle going on throughout, you will love Elsesphere.

Intro (Mental) (0:46) / Hole Inside My Head (8:19) / Mastermind (6:45) / Luna Sea (7:33) / Andromeda Strain (9:03) / Waging A War (5:06) / Last Night On Earth (5:46) / Seasons In Hell (8:49) / Requiem For A Dream (3:17)

Jonny "Bix" Berndtsson - vocals
Joakim Floke - keyboards
Lollo - bass
Mikael Kvist - drums
Mikael Bergemalm - guitars

Last Night On Earth (demo) (1999)
Blind Leading The Blind (2002)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: November 3rd 2002
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website:
Hits: 969
Language: english


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