Ellipsis - Beyond Thematics
Dark Progressive Metal
10 songs ()
Release year: 2004
Ellipsis, Adipocere
Reviewed by Crims

When I think of Adipocere records I think of a long list of mostly Black Metal bands with the odd Death Metal band here and there, which is why I was surprised to find in my mailbox something that had nothing to do with either genre. This surprise was a CD titled Beyond Thematics by a band called Ellipsis. The promo sheet described Ellipsis as Psycho Prog Metal… or something of the sort. While “psycho” may not be the best term to describe Ellipsis, the fact remains that we have a prog band that doesn’t sound anything like Dream Theater, and that in itself is quite an accomplishment these days.

Describing Ellipsis’s sound can be a bit of a challenge as there isn’t really one genre that you can pinpoint the band to. On one hand you have a vocalist who sounds like a mix between Warrel Dane (minus the high-pitched vocals) and Messiah Marcolin. While singer Emmanuelson is neither proficient nor as skilled as the previously mentioned vocalist he does have an interesting style that fits really well with the odd atmosphere of the band. Meanwhile the guitars sound almost like they would in a Gothic Metal band, but not entirely, and tend to incorporate extreme sections of music along with aggressive drumming occasionally. Other riff styles are employed including some sections that sound like typical Progressive Rock but with a Metal distortion level. Keyboards also play a large part in the sound of Ellipsis, as keyboardist Khallys coats each song with both atmospheric backing and lead melodies via heavy usage of string synth.

One of the interesting things with Ellipsis is that they show that they can be very technical but rarely display it for the listener. Though each song contains many sections of build-up and progressive tendencies the riffs and drumming are rather simple by Prog standards. However, out of nowhere every instrument will show a high degree a technical proficiency that makes for some of the more interesting breaks in most songs. The effect of the keyboards in this band is a main driving force of why I liked this CD as well. As mentioned the keys provide a high degree of both atmosphere and melodic synth, but what makes the atmosphere interesting is how dark the atmosphere actually is. This isn’t run of the mill happy or neutral toned Prog, this is very dark Prog, which is further made evident by the lyrics. Sci-fi and avant-garde lyrics are the norm with Ellipsis and the delivery of them is efficient, though we have another case where a foreign singer pronounces words rather oddly, but it doesn’t detract from the music much unless you read the lyrics along with the music. It should also be mentioned that a harsh vocal style is used very sparingly. Instead of a deep growl (as one might expect) it’s more of a shriek that really doesn’t add anything to the music and I could have done without it. In fact, it detracts from the atmosphere that the band works so hard to create.

What Ellipsis does really well is create songs with an atypical atmosphere and sound but then come right at you with a melodic chorus that would fit right at home in most modern Progressive Metal or Progressive Rock bands from a melody stand point. This makes the songs rather catchy and easily memorable. Beyond Thematics is an easy CD to listen to as well… thanks mostly to the production. The sound is dark but clean, while the keyboards are somewhat high in the mix and they take center stage in most songs. That doesn’t mean the guitars don’t come first either, because they do a lot, and when they do the keyboards take a back seat in the mix level. While the song writing can be very good at times it boggles my mind at other times as well. The whole last section of the CD is a good example of this, especially with Astral My Land. Why Ellipsis would ruin one of the better choruses on the CD with a totally useless electronic heavy outro that almost lasts as long as the core of the song itself, is beyond me. Ellipsis unfortunately does this a lot. The extreme and technical breaks are some of the best features of the CD but the slowed down, quiet, electronic/spacey breaks are some of the worst. I can forgive little short interludes between sections but when they drag on for what seems like an eternity it just makes me wonder. I suppose the band thought it would add some extra atmosphere, but most of the songs on here are good enough as is. Maybe next time that will be corrected, or worse, become a staple of Ellipsis song writing.

I’m not really sure who to recommend this CD to. For Progressive Metal fans the guitars might be a little too gothic tinged, and for gothic metal fans the choruses and some verses might be too “prog-ish”. For me, I have a passing interest in Gothic Metal and a very high interest in Prog Metal so I enjoyed this CD despite its shortcomings. Sure, poor song writing choices were made, the harsh vocals were ineffective, and I would liked to have heard more extreme/aggressive sections, but I played this CD more than most promos I get. To me that means that something in the CD grabbed me. That something could be the dark and very successful atmosphere, catchier than expected melodies in the vocals, just plain weird lyrics and song titles (Dark Sensual Nymph?), or perhaps the surprises that Ellipsis throws at the listener at least once or twice per song. It’s safe to say that it is most likely a combination of all the above.

Killing Songs :
Spiritual Flower Bath, Divination, Darkness Calls, Mother Apocalypse
Crims quoted 80 / 100
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There are 7 replies to this review. Last one on Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:43 am
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