ELEGY OF MADNESS – XI
LABEL: Scarlet Records
RELEASE: October 20th, 2023
AUTHOR: Michael Estrada
02. Broken Soul
03. Hybrid Love
08. Portrait Of A Ghost
09. A.I. Slavery
Oftentimes, symphonic metal can suffer from an overcrowded scene as it seems that there are an array of great records from the genre every year. This year, in particular, started strong but has cooled off a bit. This seems to be the perfect storm for me to discover Italy’s ELEGY OF MADNESS. I feared that I somehow missed ten records from this band by this album’s title, but this is only their fifth full-length, despite being active for over fifteen years. Production for this project was spearheaded by DGM guitarist Simone Mularoni and Mnemic bassist Simone Bertozzi. It was recorded in Domination Studios where some recent acts like Moonlight Haze and Nightmare have had their last albums come through there. Not only was there real pedigree behind the cultivation of “XI“, but the album art was one of the most striking I have seen all year as well. This is also marking a new chapter from the band, with Kyrah Aylin coming in on vocals to front a revamped sound with even sharper songwriting. So yes, there was both excitement and expectations coming into this release, despite this being my first experience with the group.
The opener, “11:11“, is a mood setter that establishes the band’s atmosphere, like any good first track should. This leads into the song “Broken Soul“, which makes it apparent that ELEGY OF MADNESS can have symphonic stylings similar to that of juggernauts such as a Sirenia or an Epica, Kyrah‘s talented vocal range as a soprano is evident and as smooth as silk. It is no surprise that fellow Italian symphonic master, Francesco Ferrini of Fleshgod Apocalypse, handled the orchestral arrangements here as well. With the addition of male harshes and some heavier tones, it was a bit reminiscent to me of an album earlier this year in Eleine‘s “We Shall Remain“.
The next track though, “Hybrid Love“, seems to go in a completely different direction with its electronic, jagged beat and staggered drums. Kyrah also stuns with her vocals here too, seamlessly shifting from siren to banshee to really convey the duality of the meaning of the song. She even expanded on this in a recent interview with Female Fronted Power (a highly recommended read).
“Revelation“ shows off another side of their sound, which is more pulled back, with some hints of bass coming into play. Many listeners will likely attribute this track most to another Italian band who made this gothic style most prominent in Lacuna Coil but both the instrumentals and vocals here truly play to that. The middle of the record is the album’s most subdued. The beautiful ballad of “Moon“ seems to feature tambourine and the cello really helps to make the instrumental swell at the end. “Goddess“ has a great mix of guitar and bass near the conclusion of that track while “Insanity“ features one of the most diverse instrumental shifts of the entire record with piano, cello and that great guitar all mixed in.
“XI“, though, is really held up by its bookends. “Portrait Of A Ghost“ has whispered vocals from Kyrah early on and even features the sound of a clock at the end. Touches of great guitar, keys, cello, male vocals and that tambourine all make their presence known on this track too. It is a more driving song and that trend continues after the glitchy transition of “AI Slavery“ into “Crawling“. This may be the most urgent instrumental and the most we hear Kyrah match that emotion as well. The speedy riff here leads to more harsh moments and it is no wonder why this was one of the leading singles off the album. The record closes with “Legion“, a chaotic and complex track that leaves a haunting visage behind. The angelic feeling in both the instrumentals and Kyrah‘s voice in the middle of the song conveys the image of clouds opening up in the heavens. This makes sense as the album seems to be that light in the darkness, as the last lines read: “WE’RE LEGION RESISTANCE! THE EXILES OF ANCIENT LANDS / RIPPED THE SKY WITH COURAGE WE ADVANCE / A NEW ERA HAS COME!”
It is safe to say that ELEGY OF MADNESS have made their presence known in the symphonic genre with “XI“. The band’s new leading lady Kyrah Aylin shines brightly and the unique ideas and instrumentals of this record should help steer them forward for years to come.