Elenium - Caught in a Wheel
Kampas Records
Progressive Death Metal
10 songs (48'14")
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Alex

Not that I know how many copies of For Giving – For Getting, Elenium’s previous album, was issued, but just as I was listening to that album English Rage of Achilles label which issued it was folding. The good guys just could not catch a break. Four years later, the Finns are still at it, trying to combine the progressive nature of their songs, technical musicianship with death metal origins and overall disposition.

In this way Caught in a Wheel is more like the wheel that kept on rolling, even though for Elenium the wheel is never round and simple but has all kinds of angles. Describing the style here is a thankless task. The music of Elenium is a heady mix of Moontower, Insomnium, Soilwork, Dream Theater and Evergrey with a certain Finnish melodic essence. After a quick intro brushes you up against that very slight funeral flavor, Human launches into a surgical bear-on-the-prowl riff. Keyboards of Johannes Salo come in over the top and through the guitars to fill the song with atmosphere. Challenger of Gravity continues in the same manner also delivering a lively catchy chorus. With all of the jerkiness and direction changes these two cuts are entirely cohesive, something I could not feel for the whole album.

It is if the band is trying to go through the variety of moods, in an effort to showcase the whole spectrum of their feelings. Of the Man Who Died is a smoother, flowing Sentenced/Poisonblack tune where keys and guitars take turns to lead. The Escalator is very slamming, full of earthy hardcore attitude, with a winding solo no hardcore band could ever match. Trail of Beggars is unbelievably stiff and rigid, before it finally relaxes. Eyes Grow Colder is full of not-so-obvious melodies which require an effort to uncover. Twelve is practically a horror flick pushing up the ante with double bass and helicopter chops towards the end, while the title track is a little more Evergrey-like, with riffs spaced away further from each other, keyboards filling the gaps with quieter, more introspective moments. If you are ready to jump on a rollercoaster for this bumpy, ever changing ride, Caught in a Wheel might just suit you. And you would need to put in some serious preparation work too, as the closer, almost 10 minute, Velocity is a super serious progressive trip, as convoluted and non-commercial as it gets. It is the tracks like this that Elenium probably cherishes the most in their discography, but will be the most difficult for those with a short attention span to grasp. This music does need work to fully get into, and is the furthest thing from a simple entertainment.

Jukka Pelkonen is a perfect guide for this long-winded journey, his deep towering growl is what brings Dan Swano/Moontower to mind, also throwing in an occasional scream or whisper. Playing bass for the band, Tuomo Raisanen must be having a lot of fun as well, witness the opening of Challenger of Gravity. The album’s production is very clean, every note and inflection can be heard, but maybe even a little too clean for a death metal record.

If simpler groove is not an absolute must you have to experience on the melodic death record, give this album a chance. Elenium is certainly a thinking man’s metal, and will have a chance to succeed if a proper label arrangement comes along. Let’s hope it turns out better next time for the Finns.

Killing Songs :
Human, Challenger of Gravity, Caught in a Wheel
Alex quoted 71 / 100
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