Alsatia – Fields Of Elysium
Reviewed by Frank Zaber
Recording an album can be a tricky business – it takes a lot to go from vision all the way through to the finished product, with a lot of things that can get in the way and cause problems. The best bands in the world can suffer from poor writing, uninspired playing, or bad production. Kansas City, Missouri power metal band Alsatia’s Fields Of Elysium suffers especially from the last of these.
Without beating around the bush, the mix on this album is atrocious. It’s not a raw, unpolished sound, either. It is a muddy mess; a garbled cacophony – almost as if the engineer yelled out “METAL!” and moved all of the sliders to the top position. Individually, the musicians playing on the album are fairly talented, but that talent couldn’t save this album from being a complete train wreck. I tried 3 different sound systems and two sets of high end headphones, just to make sure it wasn’t me.
The drums are tinny and weak sounding – what I could hear of them, anyway. The guitars do sound good together; unfortunately, I had to mess with my equalizer just to make them distinct enough to differentiate from the rest of the wall of sound. The bass, oddly enough, sounds good, and feels right in the mix – the one instrument that usually gets buried. Now this seems like a bad joke. The keys sounded decent – but only when I could hear them, which was basically only when nothing else was going on in the song).
Scott Livingston’s singing is unique – these are definitely not your normal power metal vocals. The falsetto has been on its way out in power metal lately in favor of a career-lengthening deeper sound that still delivers a ton of emotion and power. Livingston has a voice that seems like it would be much better suited to an 80’s style AOR act or an NWOBHM outfit. Music is all about experimenting, though, and his voice is fairly pleasing in the songs – when I can hear him properly, which is almost never.
I’m afraid to sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but the production here is so bad that I can’t even make out distinct words when Scott sings – he could have been mumbling nonsense words that rhymed, and it would have come across exactly the same. To be perfectly honest, iPhone videos of the band’s live performances that have been posted to YouTube sound better than the final product.
Fields Of Elysium had so much potential that it really makes me want to cry. What could have been a leading album in the U.S. Power Metal scene this year was laid low for want of a decent sound engineer and a few extra days of work. Consequently I can only recommend this album to friends of the band. One can only hope that Alsatia is successful and can spend the time and money later to go back and re-record, or at least remix and remaster this thing – it deserves far better than this.
1.5 // 5