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3 stars A very good promise from my fellow country-people ELFONIA. An album that, well, should be more considered as Dark Rock, or even Gothic Metal, because the Progressive transtitions don't happen quite often, and songs are very short for Prog standards. But it IS a very valid album, with lots of sound quality in production, and the voices are GREAT. a song that i would call the "highlight" of the album is the romantic "Alma Infinita" (inifinite soul). In terms of instrumentation, they remind a lot of KARNATAKA and RENAISSANCE, and of course some THEATRE OF TRAGEDY.
Report this review (#32935)
Posted Friday, January 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a work so good, that scared me! Elfonia is a Folk Progressive/Metal/Gothic Band from Mexico in the vein of HAGGARD and MOSTLY AUTUMN. I can also find references from THE PROVENANCE, ASHTAR (Brazil), JETHRO TULL, TRISTANIA and ORPHANED LAND. Musically, Elfonia grabbed me by the throat. I see this as a brilliant work of prog, but not as that prog music based on ego-feeding passages with saturated solo transitions and players cramping with a thousand notes,no, i mean soft, mid-paced folkish prog that you'll NEVER get tired of. Guaranteed!
Report this review (#32936)
Posted Monday, May 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Elfonia is a new Mexican band and this is their debut album. The music is atmospheric, simple progressive, and it has a folksy gothic approach. The most notable thing in this band is the fantastic female vocalist Marcela Bovio. She will put other female vocalists from the popular folk bands like Mostly Autumn and Karnataka to shame. Ok, maybe not to shame but her vocal delivery surpasses the other referred ladies without a doubt. I agree with the previous reviewer that the music presented here perhaps falls more in the Gothic Metal genre than progressive music but there are also enough Folk Prog elements to qualify the band in the Archives.

The album starts with "Eldalindale", one of the strongest tracks from the album and setting the mood for the remaining repertoire. Other highlights include "Dentro", "De Todas Mis Heridas" and "Alma Infinita". They remain truthful to their style in the whole album.

I would think that Elfonia appeals to people who like other folksy bands like Mostly Autumn. There is nothing really challenging in the music but it is very well done. The simplistic approach is not a bad thing but it gives a rather mainstream feel to it. This is the kind of music that could be played even in radio in many countries if they were famous. In the heavier moments it is somewhat comparable to groups like Evanescense minus the awful nu-metal influence and with a more atmospheric approach. However, if you expect some complexity you might find yourself bored with this album after a few spins.

This is a self-produced album but I'm sure this first offering will easily result in a contract with a record label.

Conclusion: A nice debut!

Report this review (#38636)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3.5 stars.

Like many others, I got to know this band through their excellent vocalist, Marcela Bovio, who sang the part of 'Wife' on Ayreon's 'The Human Equation'.

She also does an excellent job here and I enjoy her vocals more on this album than on 'THE' as she probably had a lot more freedom with them on this album. All the lyrics on the album are in spanish and they sound very beautiful when sung by Marcela, not that I understand any of them (although you can see the translations on their website)! I don't find this album that progressive to tell you the truth, but that doesn't make it any worse. The music found here would best be described as folky, melancholic, atmospheric rock which is a great mix and sounds beautiful. My favorite track is probably the first one, Eldalindalë, which has got a really sweet melody and Marcela's vocals really shine here. The instrumentation on this track, like basically on all tracks, is great; especially the guitarwork. They really got the sound right on the album and I've no complaints about that. The album's length is just right too, at about 47 minutes so you don't get bored or anything.

All in all, not quite a masterpiece, but a very promising album indeed. Sounds almost too good to be a debut! It'll be interesting to see what comes of their second album entitled 'This Sonic Landscape' which is in the works at the time of writing this review.

Report this review (#38949)
Posted Saturday, July 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very good debut album from a Mexican band. Marcela has perhaps the sweetest sounding voice. The music is atmospheric and folky none of the loud guitars and keyboards. Good album if you like Mostly Autumn style of music. This album also features good drum work and great guitars.
Report this review (#45675)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I was very impressed by this album, though it's music is not very "progressive" or complicated. It may be questionable to which genre this band (or release) should be labeled, but ELFONIA has done a great and moody album which aroused big emotions, and that's pretty much enough for me. It's nice that they have done the singing with their own language, and their metal relations are limited to distorted guitars, so there's not any fast drumming sequences or such included. I also respect that they have done this as a private pressing! Highly recommended, especially if you are fond of music with lady singers!
Report this review (#52564)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is nowadays one of the best Mexican bands of progressive rock, Elfonia is a mix of Metal , Folk and i can say Art Rock, Marcela Bovio is the singer, and she has the most beautiful mexican voice, she has also worked with Arjen Lucassen in Ayreon´s The Human Equation and last year she and Keyboardist Alejandro Millan worked with Stream of Passion. Talking about this album, i love it, i found it very emotional, it doesnt have the most progressive sound , but its quite enough for me, here we can listen to Violin sounds and a bit of sitar, the songs are in the 4 minutes average, and i will say that this is a great debut album because the emotion , the lyrics and of course the music is really good, Modos Humanos and De Todas mis Heridas are specially beautiful songs. But i will reccomend it for all of you, give a chance to Elfonia! Of Course, this isnt a masterpiece, that is why im going to give it 4 stars.
Report this review (#74062)
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Elfonía first came to my attention after the late 2005, early 2006 "Embrace The Storm" tour of STREAM OF PASSION, featuring both Marcela Bovio on vocals and violin, and Alejandro Millán on piano and keyboards. Not long after I sampled their music from their website, I ordered their two albums.

How can they be described? Most seem to have trouble doing so, which is a good sign, in my opinion. It doesn't come near metal, if you ask me. It's atmospheric rock with progressive and sometimes jazzy influences. The "Elfonía" debut album has all vocals in Spanish. I can't speak or understand Spanish at all, but I have to say, it doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Marcela's voice is often compared to Anneke van Giersbergen (THE GATHERING), but I can hear a clear difference between their voices. Oh well.

The album opens with the atmospheric "Eldalindalë", which actually means "Elfonía" in an Elven language. It's a gentle and soft opener, with Marcela's beautiful soothing voice taking the lead. The song roughens up on two occassions, the latter one having a beautiful guitar solo. It ends just as soft as it began...

"Nuestro Descanso" stays soft and calm, only with lots of (acoustic) guitars and again beautiful vocals, supported by some subtle bass. "Aura" remains one of my favorites. It's rockier and slightly jazzier than the openers, and it features a beautiful guitar solo somewhere near the end. The soundscapes made by Alejandro are also a delight for the ears. It's a song with presence, yet it remains soft and gentle at the same time.

"Drama" is another acoustic guitar song, this time with male vocals! I'm unsure who it is, but I'm guessing it is Alejandro. Because of this, it really stands out from the rest of the album. "Dentro" has Marcela on vocals again, and Alejandro back with a catchy piano tune. This is another soft but powerful songs, and easily one of my favorites along with "Aura" and " todas mis heridas".

For a song that begins with a gentle bassline, "Modos Humanos" has a lot more in it than you might think at first. This is a very prog-like song, which is very tasteful to me. "Hatshepsut" has a beautiful violin, and is the album's first instrumental track, excluding Marcela's chanting at the end. It completely portrays visions of ancient Egypt, which naturally was the idea. (Hatshepsut was the first known female to become "king" of Egypt).

"Añoranza" reminds me much of "Eldalindalë", but without the singing. Marcela chants and "ooo"'s instead, which sounds beautiful and atmospheric. "La vida que emana..." is a piano intro to the real song, namely " todas mis heridas", again one of my favorite songs on the album. It's a very powerful song, with some beautiful violin in the middle. *le sigh* goosebumps!

The album ends powerfully with "Alma Infinita", which is along the same lines of the rest of the album's more rockier songs. A good way to end the album...or not? It turns out there's a hidden track of 1 minute and 38 seconds, in which Marcela sings without instruments, and an echo added. She really has a powerful voice with a great range, though I'm unsure why they chose to end the album like this.

The downsides? For those who thought Marcela was only into metal like STREAM OF PASSION and AYREON, Elfonía might be a bit too soft. Also, I would have preferred the lyrics in English. Those are the only real downsides I have found in my personal experience with the album.

Beautiful, but probably not for everyone. 3 Stars.

Yours, Tailscent

Report this review (#88489)
Posted Wednesday, August 30, 2006 | Review Permalink

That's what i understand about the band's name which is a play of words that i would translate as "Elfony" or "Elphony". This was the recording that caused the international projection in the Prog world of Marcela Bovio (and Alejandro Millan,the keyboardist, in a lesser scale), because due to this self produced album Arjen Lucassen discovered and included her in THE HUMAN EQUATION. He was impressed with her voice so much that also invited her to sing in the special edition of THE FINAL EXPERIMENT and make a semi-acoustic version of the track "Waracle" (engineered by Alejandro Millan) originaly sung by Jay Van Feggelen.

The story goes on as most of you know. Marcela, Alejandro and Arjen joined forces to form Stream Of Passion, which it seems is taking a lot of their time and unfortunately made them take an indefinite break with Elfonía. And that's fine since SoP is a great band too (different from Elfonía), but I really hope they can retake the original act that made them jump to stardom.

As some reviewers mentioned already, the group is hard to classify. In this 1st release they include some folk, jazz and slight touch of metal,but softer and more atmospheric than their later album THIS SONIC LANDSCAPE which is more varied. This is a beautiful album with a spacey ambient, some strong moments, many acoustics and the incredible vox of Marcela, that make the listening a very pleasant experience.

Highlights:Opener "Eldalindalë", very atmospheric where Marcela really shines, "Modos Humanos" with a nice guitar solo and voice interchange, "Hatshepsut" an almost instrumental with an arabic feeling,good percussions and Marcela playing violin and her most powerful instrument at the end: her voice."Añoranza" another ambient track with angelical chanting and good guitar solo."de todas mis heridas" is a more upbeat track where our 'señorita' shows her wide vox range and that she also knows how to play violin, and "Alma Infinita", an excellent song with jazzy drumming and guitar and a great atmosphere courtesy of Mr. Millan.

A very good debut that gets more value if we think that is a production of their own. With artist like these i feel proud of being Mexican.

4 stars

Report this review (#132863)
Posted Sunday, August 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mexican bands aren't that many to be featured on PA. If you ever have read one of my reviews, you might know that Mexico is my second home (my wife being Mexican) and that I am probably biased with works coming out from this country. But there aren't plenty of bands coming out from this country

It is amazing that several "prog-folk" bands are vocally lead by a female singer. I put the genre into brackets because IMHHO, this album sounds a lot more symphonic as folk, at least during the first three numbers. Grandeur, bombastic style, invading keys are not typical of any folkish style of music. A casting mistake ? Probably.

Several acoustic songs are featured and might have lead this band to be categorized into this genre. But acoustic does not mean prog. Does it? If you take "Drama" for instance. Not an inch of prog here. Just a dull song with poor vocals. But their lead singer, Marcela Bovio, is not holding the role in here.

She will be in full command on the wonderful "Dentro" (Inside). A powerful song with loads of keys and great guitar work. The best of this album is "Modos Humanos". Fantastic and so emotional vocals, powerful backing band (especially the guitar work). The structure of this song is just great. The highlight from this good album..

In terms of powerful and bombastic tracks, I believe that "Hatchepsut" is by far the winner. A female "vocals" couldn't be more appropriate to perpetrate the memory of this Egyptian queen.

The band fully remains in the pure symphonic style wit "Añoranza". There are definite similarities with "Watcher" from whom you might know. Not the intro of this fantastic song, but more on the closure side. This is a wonderful piece of music. Guitar work is gorgeous and fully symphonic. As during "Hatchepsut", the work of Marcela is limited (only some choir at the end of each song) but so beautiful...

"De Todas Mis Heridas" (from all my wounds) is a "Mostly Autumn" clone. Passionate vocals and nice violins. This song is another highlight. This very good symphonic album closes on "Alma Infinita" ("infinite soul"). Fully atmospheric and featuring a great vocal performance. A great way to close this work.

Seven out of ten; upgraded to four stars snce it isn't yet available to get the half stars rating. So, let's keep with the imprecision.

Report this review (#150129)
Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars An absolutely gorgeous album. I make no bones about the fact that Marcela along with Anneke are my two favourite female singers. And I do prefer the band she's with now called STREAM OF PASSION where she can really stretch out vocally, plus I really like their style(Prog-Metal) of music more. Having said all that I can't recommend this record high enough. This far out-shines ELFONIA's follow up called "Sonic Landscape" in my opinion.

The first couple of tracks are slower paced and really put the focus on Marcela's vocals. "Eldalindale" features warm synths with vocals after a minute. Drums and a fuller sound after 2 1/2 minutes as Marcela sings with more passion. This contrast continues. Love the guitar before 4 minutes. "Nuestro Descanso" opens with intricate guitar and reserved vocals. She really impresses vocally to end it. She sings in Spanish throughout this album by the way. "Avra" is the first song to have some power in it. It's such an awesome combination of her voice and some heaviness. That's why STREAM OF PASSION works so well. Excellent guitar solo before 3 1/2 minutes. "Drama" is the only song with male vocals. This one is a mellow folk song with the acoustic guitar and male vocals leading the way. "Dentro" opens with piano and Marcela.There are some fairly heavy passages in this one. A tasteful guitar solo before 3 1/2 minutes. "Modos Humanos" opens with bass as vocals then almost angular guitar come in. Solid drumming as well, but it's her voice that really moves me. Great tune.

"Hatshepsut" opens with tribal drumming and some darkness. Synths come in.The drumming and percussion are a highlight. Violin after 2 minutes. The vocal melodies after 3 1/2 minutes are beyond words. "Anoranza" opens with waves of synths not too unlike IONA. Vocal melodies join in that make me think that heaven must sound like this. Beautiful soundscape. Latimer-like guitar after 2 minutes is so emotional. This is my favourite song on here. "La Vida Que Emana" is a short piano piece. "De Todas Mis Heridas" features more synths,but they are replaced quickly by an uptempo melody with vocals. It ends as it began. "Alma Infinita" opens with cymbals and synths. The drumming is solid throughout. Then vocals with bass and drums form a melody that sounds great. Amazing vocals on this one. A nice bass solo ends 4 1/2 minutes in then the drummer puts on a display as the sound becomes more powerful.

As of right now this is my favourite record from Mexico. Just a delight from beginning to end.

Report this review (#172752)
Posted Saturday, May 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Elfonia were formed in 2001 by female singer Marcela Bovio, keyboardist Alejandro Millan and guitarist Roberto Quintanilla after the disbanding of the group Hydra, where they played together.Started as a studio project, Elfonia gathered bassist Pablo Gonzalez and drummer Javier Garagarza in order to record their debut at the Caura Studio in their hometown Monterrey, Mexico.The recordings took place between November and December of 2002 and the album, simply entitled ''Elfonia'', was self-released in 2003.

The first few tracks are enough to fully capture Elfonia's highly atmospheric sound.Combining elements from Ambient Music, Heavy Rock and Progressive Rock, the band creates dreamy and deep images, based on Bovio's impressive, crystalline voice and the alternation between hypnotic themes and heavy, guitar-based passages.The tracks generally follow a very slow tempo in order to produce the most of their atmospheric approach.Careful use of pianos, synths and some sensitive guitar solos stand next to the more powerful riffs of Quintanilla's guitar and Bovio's warm voice, which become the leading figure on the more Ambient-sounding passages.At moments the overall style reminds me of the deep and unique delivery of Polish Prog bands in the vein of RIVERSIDE, DISPERSE, MILLENIUM or SATELLITE, that is a great production to go along with changes between background music themes and strong guitar-based textures with a highly talented singer, who dominates the sound.

Good debut by these Mexicans, who ended up creating a work along the lines of modern, atmospheric Progressive Rock.Warmly recommended.

Report this review (#891251)
Posted Saturday, January 12, 2013 | Review Permalink

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