I recently got my hands on the first full-length album by Belgian Gothic/Symphonic Metal act ELUSION, and I felt like this is one of those remarkable records I just have to share with you guys. On the 28th of June this year, they released debut album “Singularity”, the follow-up to promising 2016’s EP “Desert Of Enticement”.
ELUSION has certainly grown a lot since “Desert Of Enticement”. They have gained experience from many international shows, and have been on stage with German Symphonic Metal giant XANDRIA. You might recognise Domingo Smets‘ name from Black/Thrash Metal band ANCIENT RITES, in which he played guitar for more than fifteen years. ELUSION is a personal project that he currently channels most of his inspiration into, with “Singularity” as the most recent crowning achievement.
The first track, “Choices and Chances”, opens with a symphonic intro, and then wastes no time bringing all ELUSION‘s strengths to the table, which come together in a varied musical display. “The Tales That Trees Tell” starts off quieter and somewhat melancholic, but then kicks it up a notch with heavy riffs and fierce drumwork, blended with some more intense, expressive melodies.
My personal favourite is “The Strive”, because – to me – it seems like this is a synthesis of ELUSION‘s sound: a clash between melodicity and brutality. The epic intro could be part of a movie soundtrack, and this track really packs a punch energywise, with subtle hints of Black Metal somewhere inbetween the lines. The fact that this track also features Industrial/Dark Wave segments is a rather well played, pleasant surprise. “Lovelorn” – a harmonious duet with Björn “Speed” Strid (SOILWORK and THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA) – was the first lyric video to be released from this album. Another guest vocalist is Peter Evrard (10 ROGUE), who won the Belgian version of Idols in 2003.
In my opinion, Evy Verbruggen‘s vocals are what carry this album to the next level. She is a talented vocalist with a very powerful voice, reminiscent of NEMESEA‘s Sanne Mieloo. She wrote the lyrics herself, which give it all a more personal touch, as well as creating a certain mood along with visual imagery. I didn’t realize this at first, but Evy also takes care of the harsher grunts, which makes me all the more impressed with her vocal range.
Next up is ballad “In Eternity”, where Evy gets intimate with the listener. This song has a beautiful build-up that successfully conveys the emotions the band was going for. Then back to the heavier guitar work with “Reconciliation of Opposites”, which also features some Middle-Eastern instrumentals as a cool throwback to “Desert Of Enticement”. “My War Within” gave me the best notion of what Evy’s voice is really capable of, and “Crystal Doubts” – which lyrically deals with a race against time – is another fast-paced, powerful piece. The final track “Anamnesis” really showcases Evy’s storytelling abilities, dealing with themes of long lost childhood memories flashing by. Being the longest song on the record by over eight minutes, it wraps up the record epically, showing off the band’s combined musical qualities one last time.
This is a record that, the more you listen to it, the more elements and layers you find. This might overwhelm the listener at first, but it adds an interesting creative dimension to an otherwise very accessible sound. Accessible, yes, but ELUSION does manage to create a unique style within the otherwise pretty mainstream genre of Gothic/Symphonic Metal. Even the cover art breaks with general cliches, by using colorful, refreshingly bright pastels. If I would have to give you a comparison, I would say early AFTER FOREVER (“Prison Of Desire”, “Decipher”).
There is an individuality to each song on this album, with its own specific details, but this does not mean there is no consistency or well thought out general atmosphere as a whole. In conclusion, this is one debut to be discovered, rediscovered, and remembered.
1. Choices and Chances
2. The Tales That Trees Tell
3. The Strive
5. In Eternity
6. Reconciliation of Opposites
7. My War Within
8. Crystal Doubts
10. The Strive (Spankraght Remix)
Evy Verbruggen – Vocals
Domingo Smets – Guitars
Stijn van Peborgh – Guitars
Frederik Van Mieghem – Drums
Kristof Degreef – Bass
Featured guest artists:
Björn “Speed” Strid – Vocals
Peter Evrard – Vocals
Bert Draelants – Guitar
Art Gates Records