The Dark Element
Album: The Dark Element
Label: Frontiers Music s.r.l.
Genre: Hard Melodic Rock/Symphonic Metal
Release Date: November 10, 2017
When it comes to memorable vocalists in rock and metal, Swedish vocalist Anette Olzon has long been one of these voices. Whether from her time with Alyson Avenue (1999-2005), Nightwish (2007-2012), The Rasmus (2009), her solo work (‘Shine’, 2014) or the various other projects she’s been a part of in her career, she’s long been know for her versatile vocals that have a wide octave range, vulnerability, demanding strength and power. I was thrilled earlier this year, along with fans worldwide, to hear that Anette had teamed up with Finnish guitarist and song writer Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering, formerly Sonata Arctica (founding member), Stratovarius, Altaria) for a new project called The Dark Element.
With these two widely talented artists who’ve been intertwined with the rock and metal genres for so many years, I wondered what we could expect as they joined forces to write, create and perform something completely new. For the past 2 months singles have started to trickle out from the 11 track upcoming self titled album ‘The Dark Element’ that is due to release on November 10th via Frontiers Music srl and one by one they started answering my questions.
The first single “The Dark Element” released on August 25th. The first single is also the first track of the album. As I hit play the music began without any delay. The first notes came from keyboards in a deep vibrating key that lasted for about ten seconds before being joined by heavy drumming and then full bass and guitar riffs that came to a switch up as Anette opens her vocals with a strong yet soft almost breathless tone that’s in a mid-octave as she sings with precise enunciation the first lyrics “She lives in me and she lives in you”. As the song progresses Anette is able to shine with her vocals as she sings wide open in a high octave soprano and then coming in and out of this range with a depth to her tone that most vocalist cannot manage without being thrown out of key or overdoing their vocals. This was the perfect song to start the album off with.
The second single released from ‘The Dark Element’ was “My Sweet Mystery” which is also the second track on the album. In this second song you are going to be met with more of a rock track than metal, yet still encompassing the symphonic elements you’d expect and hope to have follow “The Dark Element”. In this track Anette lowers her octave and effortlessly sings in a rich tone that changes the tone of the song. This song has a great hard rock guitar solo for Jani that comes in perfectly timed and placed for this song. For me, this is one of the power tracks on the album that I feel fans will enjoy singing along to. With the power in the music and vocals matched with a great chorus, this is going to inspire evening the shyest of fans belt out the lyrics.
Transitioning the third track on the album, “Last Good Day” is yet another great song that also has a familiar feel to the second track in the instrumentals and chorus, but as the song transitions into the fourth track it switches into a different tone.
The third single, also the fourth track to be released from ‘The Dark Element’ was “Here’s To You”. “Here’s To You” starts out with a melodic/symphonic instrumental intro as it leads into steady mid tone vocals that blend in and out with the music. The vocals and music blend into powerful lyrics that fans, by this track, will be questioning what the lyrics throughout this album were truly written about. Are the lyrics simply something Anette and Jani put to music like so many artists do or is there something deeper, darker or more tragic they have written about that is being healed by expressing it through the lyrics on this album? Some may choose to interpret this album as an ending to a long, deep and meaningful relationship and the rebirth of one’s self as they come to the other side of a dying and finally dead relationship. Who really knows? I hope to get the chance to chat with Anette and/or Jani to ask them about the lyrics on this album and find out. Either way, I think any listener who relates to what they are hearing a can interpret the lyrics to match where they are in life and this album will help many to heal from a broken heart and wake to the light of the new day or just be an album they love simply from the amazing work that it is. For so many, music is the ultimate healer, music is their life breath.
My favorite song from this album is easily “Dead To Me”, the sixth track on the album and the fourth single released by The Dark Element. It kicks off with power synthesizers with an intense drumming tempo and has some of the best blending of the vocals to music on the album. The bass on this track is so powerful and rich, this is the first song that it completely stands out to me, while at the same time there are insane guitar riffs that also completely stand out… both at the same time. My ears and brain were going insane with this song. So many great elements blending together, yet standing out on their own is a rare find. The backing vocals are also done in a very powerful way, almost like a motion of deep symphonic vocals being thrust or thrown at the listener. I can’t really explain it, but once you hear it you will instantly recognize it. It is different from what listeners are used to or ready for, but will completely appreciate the forethought in the writing and performance. This is one of the most powerful songs on the entire album, very melodic and powerful symphonic metal. The instrumental part in this song has an overtone of synthesizers blended with guitar in such a killer tone and tempo that it made me need to be up on my feet moving around. I challenge any listener to say this song does not inspire them to be up on their feet to the music.
Being that they have released four singles off of ‘The Dark Element‘ already I must point out, they are not in the sequential order of the tracks on the album. Why do I point this out? Because you need to hear the progression of this album from beginning to end to truly appreciate what they did on this album. They’ve done a great job giving the listeners a good sample of what they can expect on the entire album. The singles stand out on their own and are very good alone, but once you hear how they tie the entire album together you’re going to appreciate what they’ve done with this release. Also, the mentioning of how I wondered how they came up with their lyrics…. as the album progresses it sounded to me like they are telling a story from the beginning to the end. I think fans will understand this point I am making and definitely see this as they listen to the album themselves.
‘The Dark Element’ is a masterpiece of well crafted artistic performance. From the at times experimental musical writing, to the tried and true symphonic metal writing, to the deep and insightful lyrics and to the blazing performance both vocally and instrumentally, this is one of the best releases left to release in 2017. I encourage fans who enjoy the wide gamut of the rock and metal musical genres to experience this album. I also encourage fans who may not be fans of rock and metal to challenge their tastes and try this album out.
The first singles “The Dark Element”, “My Sweet Mystery”, “Here’s To You”, and “Dead To Me” are available today on Spotify: http://radi.al/TheDarkElementSpotify. The video singles are linked below as well.
The Dark Element Tracklisting:
01. The Dark Element
02. My Sweet Mystery
03. Last Good Day
04. Here’s To You
05. Someone You Used to Know
06. Dead to Me
08. I Cannot Raise The Dead
09. The Ghost and the Reaper
10. Heaven of Your Heart
11. Only One Who Knows Me
PRODUCED BY: Jani Liimatainen
MIXED BY: Jacob Hansen
The Dark Element are:
Anette Olzon – Lead Vocals
Jani Liimatainen – Guitars, keyboards, programming
Jonas Kuhlberg – Bass
Jani “Hurtsi” Hurula – Drums
Follow The Dark Element Online: Facebook
Check out the first four singles from ‘The Dark Element’ below:
“The Dark Element” (August 29, Track 1)
“My Sweet Mystery” (September 25, Track 2)
“Here’s To You” (October 5, Track 4)
“Dead To Me” (October 16, Track 6)