It took Luxembourg based Elysian Gates three years to record their first album; Destination Unknown in 2013. One year later the band transformed into a female fronted setting, getting their definite line-up when former Rude Revelation vocalist Noémie Leer joined in 2015. Elysian Gates' second release Crossroads can be seen as a fresh start, where the band incorporates choirs, cellos and violins to create their own blend of melodic gothic progressive rock. Besides Noémie on vocals and violin, Elysian Gates consists of guitarists Sue Scarano and Guy Christen, keyboard player Thierry Sadler, bass player Kim Sosson and drummer Christian Praus.
The effective use of the aforementioned guesting choir can be heard during Far From Home, the addition of growls marks this composition as very interesting. During this song a strong progressive element is combined with bombastic parts and Noémie's appealing vocals. Too bad the part that is supposed to be the ear candy of the song; the guitar solo, lacks a bit of power and ends up to be the weakest link during this song. The title track Crossroads on the other hand is a very solid composition; a nice and powerful song where the bass and drums are the strong backbone for a typical female fronted power song. The following Whispering Premonition is accessible and a bit predictable. Not bad, but in my perspective a song that remains as an OK song, no more. For me, the sensitive ballad Mary Ann ends up to be the highlight of the album. Here Noémie is accompanied by, what sounds like a fretless bass and a well-orchestrated keyboard part. A song that should create a sea of lighters/phone flashlights during live performances. A nice growl returns on Broken Inside, another solid composition that alike One Open Gate and the final track Northern Winds is very pleasant to listen to, but doesn't really lift the band up from mediocrity. These songs will not take the band to a higher level, although I do think the band has potential. A progressive rock based song is the seven minutes lasting Human Infection, one of the more interesting compositions on the album, Noémie shows she is able to sing like a little angel, as well as growl like the devil. The guitar riffs nicely work with the bombastic keyboards and create a coherent piece of music.
Although Elysian Gates sees two guitar players in the band, the aspect of soloing should be a point of discussion. I never doubt the way both guitarists deliver their riffs and melodies, but when it comes to performing an amazing breathtaking solo, both Sue and Guy need to step up a bit. The band has made a very wise decision when they brought in Noémie as their front lady, but the next step would be working on compositions beyond average, for the female fronted scene shows a lot of competition if you want to climb the ladder.
*** Thomas Rhymer (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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