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Elfonia - This Sonic Landscape  CD (album) cover

THIS SONIC LANDSCAPE

Elfonia

 

Prog Folk

3.44 | 21 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars When I first heard of Elfonía and Marcela Bovio's part in it I was skeptical of the progressive folk label sometimes pinned on them, and honestly I still think they're closer to progressive metal than folk. But after listening to this album a few times I can sort of hear why some would consider them to at least have some folk influences. That said, comparisons to the Gathering circa Anneke van Giersbergen and, to a lesser extent Karnateka are unavoidable.

Bovio's voice is of course both angelic and powerful, as evidenced by her stint with Ayreon on 'The Human Equation' and more importantly with Stream of Passion, still one of my favorite metal-leaning bands. The instrumentation here is sometimes similar, owing mostly to Roberto Quintanilla's guitar work that features alternately shredding, soaring arpeggios, and delicate soundscapes that complement former Stream of Passion keyboardist Alejandro Milán's synths and piano quite eloquently.

Unlike Stream of Passion ("Out in the Real World", "Spellbound", "I'll Keep on Dreaming"), there are no instantly memorable tracks on this album, but in total the songs are consistently solid and seem to make for a more cohesive overall album than 'Embrace the Storm' does. That's by design I suppose, given the album's name and many of the complementary song titles. Hints of jazz intersperse with the same sort of gothic hint that is present is nearly everything Bovio has appeared in to-date, at times in the same song as with the ranging "Desaciertos" and quietly intoxicating "Soundscapes".

At times the band even manages to sound a bit like an 80s hair band, particularly with the lead-ins to "Camaleón" and "Mañana", but these are more than offset by the quiet charm of Milán's concertina on the aptly-named "Camaleón", which manages to cram every genre- nod the band can muster into a little more than five minutes. The track is given added start power with a guest appearance by Arjen Anthony Lucassen himself.

The album closes with a trio of numbered songs all called "Gigantes" (I, II and III), each of which leads in with spacey synths and luscious Bovio vocals before building to a guitar/ drum/keyboard explosion with Bovio moaning sonically and seductively. That is, except for the finale which remains on a fairly even keel throughout but manages to elicit the same sort of passion and emotion as the other two despite its understated nature.

I'm trying to locate the band's first album before rendering an overall opinion of their work. This is a very good album, but even after several spins I'm not quite as enchanted with it as with Stream of Passion's debut or even Bovio's stunning introduction as LaBrie's disconsolate spouse on 'The Human Equation'. I'm hoping the Elfonía projects a bit more ethnic flavor than the heavily engineered veneer that covers these songs. Easily three stars, but I'd be hard-pressed to give it any more than that. Recommended to fans of great female rock vocals and technically excellent guitar, but probably not so much for hardcore progressive folk fans.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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