Eleine – We Shall Remain Review

Eleine's sound has seemingly changed a fair bit over the years, as I remember “The Gathering Storm” being fairly soft, melodic, and very much dominated by symphonic elements, while...

Released By: Atomic Fire Records

Release Date: July 14th, 2023

Genre: Symphonic Metal

Links: https://www.eleine.com/

 

Lineup:

Madeleine Liljestam – Vocals
Rikard Ekberg – Guitars, Vocals
Filip Stålberg – Bass
Jesper Sunnhagen – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Never Forget

2. Stand by the Flame

3. We Are Legion

4. Promise of Apocalypse

5. Blood in their Eyes

6. Vemod

7. Through the Mist

8. Suffering

9. War des alles

10. We Shall Remain

 

I’ve mentioned in past reviews that every once in a while I’ll listen to and enjoy a song or two from a band, and then suddenly either forget about them or not find the time to listen to their full albums. The latest example of this is Swedish symphonic metal band Eleine, who I’ve known ever since their first single, “The Gathering Storm”, released in 2014, but for some reason or another, I had never listened to any of their full albums up until being given a chance to review their latest release, We Shall Remain. The band has released three albums up to this point and has been fairly successful, so I was interested to hear what they had in store for their new album. After several listens, I can say We Shall Remain is a very good album, with excellent vocals and guitar work, even if it occasionally shows potential to be even better.

Eleine’s sound has seemingly changed a fair bit over the years, as I remember “The Gathering Storm” being fairly soft, melodic, and very much dominated by symphonic elements, while We Shall Remain is still definitely a symphonic metal album, but it’s much darker, heavier and more guitar-driven than I was expecting. Symphonic elements are often present, but rarely overpowering, and aren’t especially cinematic, more just there for mood setting, along with some light keyboards. Rikard Ekberg’s guitar work, on the other hand, is very prominent, and it can get quite intense at times, sometimes going into thrash or groove territory, sometimes having more of a modern melodic death metal/power metal sound, and sometimes having a bit of a gothic feel to it. Aside from the particularly explosive opening track “Never Forget”, most songs alternate between heavy, instrumentally focused sections, and softer, more atmospheric sections, where the vocals and symphonic elements take over. While the choruses and verses are generally solid, I find the instrumental sections to often be the highlights of the album, and they’re certainly much heavier and at times more adventurous than fans might expect from a symphonic metal album.

Though the main focus of the band is on the vocals, considering the name “Eleine” comes from vocalist Madeleine Liljestam, and as expected, she does an excellent job of carrying the songs, especially shining on choruses. She has a powerful, yet very smooth voice, often staying in a lower register, which helps differentiate her somewhat from many other symphonic metal vocalists. She has a very smooth delivery, sometimes falling close into pop territory, but she can also be quite powerful and fierce when needed, especially during heavier sections. Rikard Ekberg also provides some vocals, with his clean vocals being rather light and airy, yet fitting the mood of the music nicely, while his harsh vocals are very deep, sinister, and intense, as one would expect from either gothic metal or melodic death metal. Production is also excellent, with everything sounding powerful and dynamic, and performances are strong across the board.

One area where I think the band has slight room for improvement is the songwriting. This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with We Shall Remain, as I do think the songs here all range from solid to excellent. However, this is one album where the standout tracks are clearly on a separate level from everything else, being fantastic the whole way through, while other tracks have moments of brilliance, but can’t quite live up to their full potential as a whole. This is particularly noticeable towards the middle of the album, where the songwriting quality drops off just a bit. As I said before, though: Everything here is very enjoyable, and there aren’t any weak tracks to be found, but I feel this album has its share of peaks and valleys.

One such peak is the opening track “Never Forget”, which storms out of the gate with some very heavy riffs, explosive drums, and a furious tempo. It very much falls into modern MDM territory, with a slight power metal feel to it as well. It’s easily the fastest-paced song on the album, maintaining its speed and momentum the whole way through, with the chorus, in particular, soaring along with some excellent vocals and riffs, while the guitar solo in the second half is also quite impressive, and I like the mix between the two vocalists throughout, with Ekberg using both clean and harsh vocals effectively. Next is “Stand by the Flame”, which starts with eerie sound effects and pummeling, slower-paced riffs which almost bring some Fear Factory tracks to mind with the particular feel they have going. Once the song gets into the opening verses, the riffs change into more of a groove/thrash sort of sound, mixed nicely with some light keys and symphonic elements.

The chorus is very nice and catchy, while the instrumental section in the second half goes hard on the thrash riffs, and is quite intense and a lot of fun to listen to.
The hits continue with lead single “We Are Legion”, which is probably the closest this album comes to sounding like Epica, with the symphonic elements and guitar work in the beginning especially feeling somewhat similar to that band, though the guitars once again take on more of a thrash metal sound once the track gets going. There’s a bit of a mix between symphonic power metal and gothic metal here, as the track moves along at a rather upbeat tempo, and has a nice melodic chorus, mixed in with some harsh vocals and a rather dark atmosphere during the chorus, contrasting nicely with the positive lyrics about self-empowerment, which is the main theme of the album as a whole.

While the first three songs are all excellent, “Promise of Apocalypse” is the first song where I’d say the quality falls off just a bit. It’s still an enjoyable track, alternating nicely between mid-tempo portions and slightly faster portions during verses, before giving away to a strong, melodic chorus, but as a whole, it doesn’t quite live up to the first three tracks, mostly because the instrumental work, while still very good, doesn’t seem to be as much of a focus as on the previous tracks. This continues with “Blood in Their Eyes”, a more mid-paced track, with a very sinister sound to the guitars. It moves along at a rather relaxed tempo, with slight bursts of heaviness, and there are brief flourishes where the instrumental work comes alive, along with brief harsh vocals, but for the most part, it’s a more vocal-driven track, with the chorus being especially strong. Following a brief interlude track, “Through the Mist” immediately kicks off with a fiery riff and a blistering tempo, suggesting an epic power metal track, before quickly slowing down and turning into another mid-paced symphonic/gothic metal track. Ekberg leads during the opening verse, with both clean and harsh vocals, while Liljestam takes over in the chorus and second verse, and both vocalists do an excellent job throughout. The music is interesting throughout, though none of the remainder of the track matches the intensity of the first 30 seconds or so. Overall, this is probably the best song in the middle portion of the album, though it still doesn’t quite match the first three tracks.

Moving into the final stretch, the album picks up again with “Suffering”, which is somewhat the opposite of the previous track, starting rather slow and atmospheric, before suddenly kicking into high gear during the opening verse with explosive riffs, heavy drums, and a fast tempo. It alternates nicely between MDM, more typical symphonic metal, and bits of gothic metal, with the heavy parts giving way to more melodic, atmospheric sections, with the chorus, in particular, being very soft but still excellent. The softest track on the album is “War das Alles”, which almost falls into power ballad territory, being rather subdued throughout most of its duration, with very brief bursts of heaviness, while the verses and chorus, in particular, are both very slow, soft and vocal driven. However, there’s a more explosive section in the second half, where the harsh vocals kick in, to inject a bit of heaviness. Closing out the album is the title track, which once again starts heavy and explosive, suggesting a certain type of track along the lines of the opener, before turning into a fairly soft, very atmospheric symphonic/gothic metal track, with bursts of heaviness. The verses, in particular, have some very atmospheric keys, and Liljestam’s vocals sound more sorrowful than usual, while the chorus has a more triumphant feel to it, and is very melodic and catchy. For the most part, the track stays fairly calm throughout, though it does have one more explosive instrumental section towards the end, and that combined with the chorus helps to make it one of the highlights of the album.

Overall, We Shall Remain is one of those albums which hints at potential greatness, without fully getting there, but still manages to be highly enjoyable throughout. Both vocalists do a great job, the instrumental work is terrific, with the guitars especially being great whenever they’re given enough room to work with, and everything sounds excellent, but the songwriting is slightly uneven, with some tracks being amazing throughout, while others are merely solid, with bursts of greatness. However, for my first time hearing Eleine, I’d say this album has left me impressed overall, and I’d recommend it to fans of symphonic/gothic metal, looking for something a bit heavier than the usual genre fare.

 

Ratings: 8/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

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