Elixir – Unleash The Magic
At this point in my modest self-made career of metal criticism, I’ve had an opportunity to check out bands from nearly every corner of the earth. It’s still a bit of a thrill, however, to discover something off of the beaten path that is simultaneously so alike and so different from established norms. This time, the culprit is Elixir of Uruguay, South America. The metal market features plenty of Brazilian bands, but other South American bands are few and far between. Elixir surprised me a bit by playing a very smooth, melodic version of the Euro-power metal that I enjoy so much, but without the loss of percussive punch that is so often a drawback of this genre.
Right off the bat, I’ll say that musically, Elixir is superior, melodically, to many of their near-anonymous (that is to say, those that are releasing a relatively unknown debut album) European counterparts. Blending just the right amount of neo-classical influence, bright symphonic keyboard work, and traditionally-inspired solo work, the band produces instrumental lines that are familiar and accessible, yet reasonably fresh and engaging. A serious strength for Elixir lies in its drum work, which is potent, precise, and clearly a solid anchor for the rest of the operation. The rippling salvos of snare and double bass that launch opener “Weapons Of Heart” are a prime example of what I mean.
Title track “Unleash The Magic” delivers a second power metal essential: a hooky, sing-along chorus, as well as some lyrics about “breaking the chains”, which are nearly as mandatory. That’s right, these are catchy, feel-good vibes of the likes of Insania and Axenstar, translated into a different setting and given perhaps a bit more punch. There’s little of original artistic value here, but Elixir is proving that rock-steady power metal has taken firm root in South America, even if it is fairly derivative. There are a few points, however, where Unleash The Magic breaks the archetypical power metal mold that much of the albums falls in, such as the whispering interlude in “Facing The End”, the straightforward growl of “Wasteland”, and the very strong melodies of “Sunrise”.
Let’s talk about singer Brunno Navarro: I can’t decide how I feel about him. To try and express this as best I can: I think that he suffers from what I think of as “Fabio Lione” syndrome (though he is by no means Fabio’s equal). Navarro’s voice is decent, and at times downright outstanding when placed in the right setting. However, the man has extremely little variety to his tone and delivery, and the timbre of his voice begins to grate as he sings every song at the same volume and with the same inflection. Long story short: Navarro could be great if he was combined with a second vocalist or underwent some exercises to vary his delivery. At present, he is the single greatest flaw in Elixir’s music, but only at times.
Unleash The Magic was, overall, a pleasant surprise. The album has been released on Heart Of Steel Records and is available for order online. For fans of Euro-power, I give this my solid recommendation, with the caveat that it isn’t terribly creative. Check out a few tracks and consider ordering it to add to your collection, because Elixir is as good at their gig as many of their up-and-coming European counterparts.
Dan’s Rating: 3.25 out of 5