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The Dark Element: The Dark Element
SThe Dark Element 2017 Debut CD Album Review

The Dark Element: The Dark Element

Melodic/Symphonic/Power Metal
4.5/5.0

I've often wondered what happened to vocalist Anette Olzon, after she got the unpleasant boot in the arse from Nightwish. (Which was a shame, they recorded their two best albums with her at the microphone, Dark Passion Play and Imaginareum.) Playing catch up, she had her third child, Mio, in 2013, cut a solo album, Shine in 2014 and, if Wikipedia is accurate, she's currently studying for a nursing degree. Meanwhile, Ms Olzon has also found time to form a new band, The Dark Element, with Finnish guitarist and composer Jani Liimatainen, known for his career with Sonata Arctica and Cains Offering.

The Dark Element Band Photo

The Dark Element

With The Dark Element, Olzon and Liimatainen don't stray far from their musical roots. The Dark Element plays, essentially, traditional European female-fronted melodic and symphonic power metal. While that's obviously not a novel thing, it puts the band in the company of a huge cadre of similar bands. So what, if anything, is going to make The Dark Element rise above, say, Epica, Within Temptation or, yes, Nightwish? Well, for one, they do have Anette Olzon. Her voice is still as powerful and persuasive as it was during her stint with Nightwish. Also, Liimatainen is both an exceptional guitarist and composer. If anybody knows the genre, and its essential elements, it's this guy and he can write some strong songs. So you have an excellent vocalist and a premier songwriter. That should sell the band, but is it enough? Time will tell how fans will respond.

Suffice to say, for symphonic melodic power metal, across this album, Olzon, Liimatainen, and company have the genre nailed down tighter than tick on an Alabama hound dog. If this style of music is your thing, don't hesitate, buy the album. Perhaps a few song highlights will persuade you and the skeptics (such as myself). With all the bombastic propensity in the songs, the best are those that move with a rock groove and turn on AOR twists in vocal arrangement and refrains. Such songs are Last Good Day, I Cannot Raise The Dead, Only One Who Knows Me, and quite catchy My Sweet Mystery, heavy but groovy at the same time.

Additionally, the songs where Olzon's vocals are most prominent are also some of the most favorable. The aforementioned Only One Who Knows Me and My Sweet Mystery are fine examples, but better are the two ballads: Someone You Used to Know and Heaven Of Your Heart. The former has Ms Olzon doing gentle vocals accompanied by light piano and synth lines, with mild moments of crescendo woven in parts. The latter builds with Olzon's light vocals lilting over gentle piano. Eventually the riffage and orchestration rises in the latter half, leading to a short but sweet guitar solo. With little doubt, Olzon is one of the best rock/metal vocalists of this generation.

Whether The Dark Element is another contender to rise among the female-fronted symphonic metal bands is certainly a moot point. Yet, with Anette Olzon's voice and Jani Liimatainen's skillful song composition, The Dark Element's debut is an entertaining, satisfying, and formidable one. Recommended.



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The Bottom Line

Whether The Dark Element is another contender to rise among the female-fronted symphonic metal bands is certainly a moot point. Yet, with Anette Olzon's voice and Jani Liimatainen's skillful song composition, The Dark Element's debut is an entertaining, satisfying, and formidable one. Recommended.

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