Side-projects give us a glimpse into the artistic and creative world of musicians, a world that they might not be able to explore fully with their main band. We saw this with AURI, MY INDIGO, NORTHWARD, ME AND THAT MAN, PHANTASMA, and VILLE VALO & AGENTS, and now we can add ILLUMISHADE to the list. The brainchild of ELUVEITIE front lady Fabienne Erni and guitarist Jonas Wolf, ILLUMISHADE released their debut album “Eclyptic: Wake of Shadows” independently on 15 May 2020.
The band created pure magic with this album as, from the first note to the last, the listeners are transported into a mystical world. This feeling is enhanced not only by Fabienne Erni’s angelic vocals but also by Mirjam Schnedl’s orchestrations that give the songs a dream-like atmosphere. The fact that four of the thirteen tracks on this album are instrumentals that act like interludes, tying everything together, only takes the listener further down the rabbit hole. Crafted as a concept album about how the world collapses, the songs detail the struggles and the emotions the Guardian faces in her quest to fight the darkness, with the last track giving us a bit of hope that maybe everything will be fine in the end.
“Passage Through the Clouds” opens the album and welcomes the listeners into the world of ILLUMISHADE with ominous sounds that give way to guitar and tribal-sounding drums, thus setting the mood for the album. With “The Calling Winds,” the Guardian presents herself, accompanied by a chugging guitar melody that only accentuates Fabienne Erni’s gentle delivery and some chiming keys for atmosphere. The upbeat and anthemic “Tales of Time” features a duet with Chrigel Glanzmann and a chorus that is both catchy and majestic. Fans of ELUVEITIE already know how well the two vocalists complement each other and that chemistry is also present on this track, elevating it to euphoric levels. “The Farewell Arcades” is the name of the interlude that links the first part of the album to the core middle part. It is a guitar-driven piece with some violin lines and chiming keys that add a surreal sense of fantasy to the music.
“Crystal Silence” boasts a massive drum sound, heavy guitars, and another catchy chorus with some disco elements to it, while the processed vocals on the verses give the song a creepy undertone, a feeling that something is not quite right. “What Have I Become” is a more melancholic, more serene track, with a sweeping violin melody in the background, drums, and emotional vocals from Fabienne Erni. The song builds in intensity as it progresses, exploding in a superb guitar solo that makes it feel more robust. “Rise” is the answer to the questions the previous track asked, being equally melancholic and serene, but with an uplifting, and optimistic feel to the music and the lyrics. Again it grows in intensity, with another magnificent guitar solo that adds melody and energy to the track. With “Into the Maelstrom,” the fantasy world is shattered and things get dark pretty fast. The almost funereal violin melody at the beginning really brings this darkness into focus, while the ominous orchestration in the second part gives the listeners an uneasy feeling of foreboding.
“Muse of Unknown Forces” is probably the heaviest track on the album, with an angry and intense vocal delivery, vicious guitar melodies, and rumbling grooves from the instrumental side. Cinematic “Golden Lands” is a peaceful piece of music that has an uplifting undertone to it, as the Guardian tries to calm herself down after seeing the darkness that envelops the world. “Beyond the Obsidian Veil” features urgent keys, pounding drums, and distorted guitars that give the listeners a feeling that something is brewing. The grandiose “World’s End” is the climax of the story, with the lyrics, delivery, and guitars making it clear that we should not expect a happy ending. However, “Glowing Tides” offers a glimmer of hope with some ethereal vocals and atmospheric keys.
ILLUMISHADE packed quite a punch into the 41 minutes of “Eclyptic: Wake of Shadows” both musically and emotionally speaking. For those who take the deep dive, this is more than just a listen, it’s an immersive experience. The album is layered and complex, pulsating and vibrant, with a great ebb and flow. Fabienne Erni’s vocals are soaring, Jonas Wolf’s guitars are fierce, Yannick Urbanczik’s bass is rumbling, and Marc Friedrich’s drums are pounding, while Mirjam Schnedl’s synths and orchestration bind everything together neatly and transport the listeners to this other world.
With a mix of progressive and symphonic metal, musical stylings, and poppish hooks, “Eclyptic: Wake of Shadows” is a cinematic album that needs to be listened to from start to finish, and deserves your full attention. It’s well worth the deep dive.
Written by Andrea Crow
- Passage Through The Clouds
- The Calling Winds
- Tales Of Time (ft. Chrigel Glanzmann)
- The Farewell Arcades
- Crystal Silence
- What Have I Become
- Into The Maelstrom
- Muse Of Unknown Forces
- Golden Lands
- Beyond The Obsidian Veil
- World’s End
- Glowing Tides
Fabienne Erni – vocals
Jonas Wolf – guitars
Yannick Urbanczik – bass
Marc Friedrich – drums
Mirjam Schnedl – synth & orchestrations