Recommendation of the Week 2.11.07


Fev 12 2007, 1h40


Brilliance is defined by an untame amount of genius. When music is added into the mix, brilliance is measured both by how much the music enriches the musical aspects of our lives and what we have to compare it to. But I challenge you to ask anyone how to start comparing an overstuffed, plush couch to a metal park bench. Or - more frighteningly - how to end.
1994 was a very significant year for music. The Cruxshadows, Switchblade Symphony, and Rasputina all released full-lengths debut albums that, by the standards of the time, were both exciting and refreshing. All these releases were also, in retrospect, at least moderately respectable and wildly successful. One could attempt to compare and contrast Elyria to other releases of that year, but then we're talking couches and benches again. Elyria always did, and always will stand isolated from other released of that year, decent as they were.
Faith and the Muse begins it's subtle aural war with a title track to put all other title tracks to shame. With no decipherable lyrics, Monica's simple vocalizing serves more purpose than the lyrics of the world's greatest lyricist would. Sparks is the first one that grabs you long enough to entice you to ascertain that this will be the best song on the album. You soon realize that you've been saying that for 5 tracks now.
All Lovers Lost is a pessimistic anti-love song that creeps along hauntingly and slowly raises the tone until it's subdued in moments. Monica's vocals are just stellar. Iago's Demise is charming in with feminist undertones (they do that occasionally). But with a breakdown you'll be trying to replicate for weeks. Unquiet Grave is instantly the most fun song on the album, a old take on an song about a dead lover (the Irish really were the gothest people out there, yes?) But the flute... if you're not moving, you're as dead as the woman in the lyrics. But the bigger purpose is to follow a song called Vervain which is undeniably perfect, in every way. Seven minutes is not a long time when the gradual buildup brings you to a place that "Vervain" does. It's positively orgasmic.
Then, the trilogy. When To Her Lute Corinna Sings segues into Caesura and finally, dramatically, into William Faith's epic track, The Trauma Coil. Mostly medieval in nature, there's an element of explored here. The darkest parts of the album are given way to rusty violins and dramatic formal drumming. "The Trauma Coil" positively bleeds black blood as a song of torture and repent unfold in a wall of electric guitar. Never since have we heard William so emotional and so caught up in a song. He feels it. You can tell. The man really makes his one song per album worth it, but never as he did on Elyria.
The follow up is almost an epilogue or post script, and is clearly and undoubtedly the stand out track on this album. Mercyground is both lyrically and musically a work of art. You get lost in visions of cemeteries and funerals, and in a rare moment of lucidity, you realize that you're listening to one of the best songs this goth genre ever gave us, and feel thankful for it.
Ending the album, lyrically, is the short and wistful Heal. With hopelessly hopeful lyrics that swoon over acoustic guitar, there was never a more perfect ending to a perfect album.

To wrap it up, this album will change the way you see goth music.
That is, if it doesn't ruin it for you.

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