Saturday, January 6, 2007

Review: Ever Since - Between Heaven and Hell (2007)

Ever Since [ MySpace ]
Between Heaven and Hell

Alright, it's been a year since my last review. What happened? I don't know. Can't say. But when I received a promo pack from Quam Libet Records containing the full-length debut from Ever Since, an unknown band from Switzerland, I sat up and took notice. My inspiration was back. This album forced me off my ass and got the creative juices flowing once more. Is Between Heaven and Hell a masterpiece? Not quite, but it is fresh enough, and good enough, to be very close.

So what makes this album from an unheard-of Swiss band so good? The key, which I have already mentioned, is that it's "fresh". Groundbreaking it is not, but there is enough experimentation and cross-genre formulations to make cliché musical elements come alive in a very interesting way. Simply put, Ever Since is a Dark Metal band. You'll find Goth, Death, Dark Wave, and even traditional metal fragments blended together to create an album full of exciting songs. Even tossing aside the ineffective intro and the short instrumental horrorscape "Meeting in the Deep", Between Heaven and Hell still offers up 10 tracks that do not disappoint.

Key to the success of the album are the often subtle, sometimes not so subtle, atmospheric passages skillfully delivered by keyboardist Jean-Philippe Lana. At times you have have to listen attentively to pick them up, such as during the guitar solos on "Opposite Angle", while at other times they drive the song more so than the guitars. This interplay between heavy, chunky riffs and Gothic piano/synth moments is done masterfully and is a major reason why I scored Between Heaven and Hell so high. Another interplay which equals that of the guitars/keyboards is the mix of vocal styles permeating the album. Primary vocal duties are handled by Ludivine whose sultry, melancholy style is somewhat similar to Lotta Höglin (Beseech). Her expression accentuates the dark mood of the music perfectly, and is complimented by the harsh vocals of guitarist Stéphane. Ranging between enunciated growls, a deep Gothic bass (not unlike Erik Molarin from Beseech), and occasional rasps, Stéphane provides an excellent contrast to Ludivine's clean vocals. Jean-Philippe also lends clean vocals on occasion and takes the lead on "Something of You".

The first true song on the album, "Vae Soli", perhaps bests illustrates the intricate sonic compound that is the music of Ever Since. A primarily electro-Goth beat drives the tune, with the full range of clean and harsh vocals from Ludivine and Stéphane, while the guitars lend not only a heavy Gothic feel but also dish out a traditional metal vibe with some spindly solos and leads. The title track could be found on a recent Beseech release, with Stéphane's distinctive baritone, distorted whispers from Jean-Philippe, and a driving double-bass from Cédric Monnet.

Finding a favorite on Between Heaven and Hell is difficult because I enjoy almost every track equally. In fact, even the electro-Goth instrumental "Treason" is a pleasing listen. If you're a fan of any form of dark, melodic metal you will enjoy this album.

Track Listing
1 The Elected 0:37
2 Vae Soli 3:61
3 Something of You 3:33
4 Between Heaven and Hell 3:37
5 Lost in My Thoughts 3:29
6 A Shadow Behind the Mirror of My Mind 4:17
7 Meeting in the Deep 2:13
8 La Petite Mort 4:52
9 Treason 2:29
10 Opposite Angle 3:30
11 Opposite Angle Part II 4:14
12 I'm Just the Only One 5:21

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