The intro song, “Prelude,” sets the stage with the stormy sound effect and a depressing piano. Chaos and misery is how Gothenburg, Sweden-based metal band Elegia introduces their debut album, Anamnesis, released on June 24th, 2016.
With Karin Härefelt on the vocals, Matthias Nyberg on the guitars and vocals, Johan Gustavsson on the guitars, Lars Skjuttorp on the bass, and Eric Skjuttorp on the drums, this five-piece band went through a lot leading up to the release of their album, including loss of band members and friendships. After multiple considerations of just dropping the microphones and quitting the project, they found their way with one final push.
Their personal experiences of struggle are reflected by their music. Their band name, Elegia, is based on the latin word for “elegy,” which is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a sad poem or song,” or “a poem or song that expresses sorrow for someone who is dead.”
As a result, you’ll find that the thirteen-track album generally has a melancholic sound to it. Following the prelude track, the song explodes out of the gate with “The War in Me.” Immediately, I am impressed with the performance of all the band members in play here. The mixing is professionally done, and it blends well with both the lead and backing vocals. All the instruments don’t seem to fight each other. The guitar solos are emphasized and dazzle during their moments. The only thing I wish for is a more aggressive delivery with the vocals, particularly at the 1:48-2:11 mark. Generally, the emotions behind the vocals are easily felt and conveyed, but the 1:48 mark was the vocal’s moment to really shine and bring herself forward to the edge of the stage. A rougher edge to the vocals really would have made that part more cinematic and epic. I also do want to admit that the “ahh’s” that sound out throughout this part greatly add a haunting effect on the song.
“Cary” slows things down with a clean electric guitar that is relaxing but also has a sense of uneasy tension. The song gets loud as it goes on, making it for another great cinematic listen. “Children of the Dark” doesn’t hold back either, and features melodic guitar and bass solos, and an epic instrumental break toward the end. “Miss Halloween” has an eerie chord progression and goes slow during the verses and pacey for the choruses. “I’m Sorry” is played at an emotionally slow pace, and also features a male vocalist which sings both as the lead and together with the female vocalist.
Track seven, “Lament for the Dead,” also follows a similar structure of a slow intro and verses and explosive choruses. However, there’s something in the delivery of the song, specifically in the piano, the non-distorted electric guitar, and the supporting choir vocals towards the end of the song that gives the overall atmosphere a spine-chilling feeling that makes “Lament for the Dead” an appropriate lament for the dead. The album picks up with an energetic performance of track nine, “Queen of the Damned,” then softens things down with “I’ll Be Here.” The use of other orchestral instruments such as the flute and the (I think French horn?) during the instrumental breaks adds a calming feeling to the song. “Ugly,” given the tempo it’s played at, has a hard, head-banging beat that is more aggressive than the other slower songs in the album. The song explodes with urgency at the end to close out the song. The instrumental and vocal performance of track eleven, “Jennifer’s Body,” mesmerizes with its chord progression, and “Dressed in Black,” starting with a calming clean guitar riff, keeps the listener holding on with its aggressive sound. Elegia closes the album out with “Broken,” an epic slow song with the vocals performed solely by males.
Elegia’s Anamnesis certainly is a solid debut by the Swedish band. The album clearly shows how talented this group is, and it amazes me with what they were able to achieve considering what they went through prior to the album’s release. I also like how most of these songs aren’t mainly slow or fast; the pace changes at the verses and the choruses. Although the songs effectively conveys their raw emotions, I wish there was more variety between the songs. On the upside, this album serves as a great building block for the band to move forward upon and there is room for the band to work with to deliver a more unique melodic metal sound.