Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eternal Descent ~ The Phantom Of The Opera (EP)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: instrumental, heavy metal, goth, soundtrack, British
Label: Incendium
Year: n/a
Home: England


Members: Llexi Leon ~ guitars/keyboards/b. vocals
Keefe West ~ programming
Elysha West ~ vocals


It really is hard being a solo instrumental rock guitarist these days ... you can be a great composer, technical firestorm, emotional heartstring, rising comet in a world of stars ... but 30 years ago three guys named Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani & Steve Vai basically stamped out the competition & set the standard of comparison even long after they left the charts. If a guitarist does something in a classical motif he sounds like Yngwie or maybe falls into the traps Yngwie falls into, or he may sound like Berkeley trained Vai & has the diversity but not the success or maybe he's got the cascading guitar lines of Satriani. Or, maybe one takes a fourth option to just riff endlessly into uncreative oblivion. So, it's nice to find someone doing something that is trying to get out from under the shadows of the past. ED, or more particularly guitarist/composer Llexi Leon, does more than just get out of the shadow of past guitarists but also the music business in general & isn't even worried about music charts. But, more on that later. ED has crafted just a glimmer of a bigger picture he has in mind with this 3 song EP that, to not abandon the past completely for comparison's sake, is a bit of if Satriani had done Broadway or Broadway had copied Satriani. It opens with a metal version of the theme song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera from Broadway. A distorted guitar plays the opening lines against dark synthesizer drones & simple electronic beats before leading into a riffing verse, pounding drums & fast finger play. A female singer comes with her best Sarah Brightman followed by a deep voiced distorted male talking the lines of the Phantom, far darker than his Michael Crawford counterpart. The interpretation is fast & fierce & gives the song the same dark punch that Marilyn Manson gave to "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" drawing out the inner demon lost in the commercially friendly original. Its the Broadway that has never been or a soundtrack to a movie waiting to be made. It's the goth Phantom. Actually, these guesses aren't so far from the truth. Soundtrack is the hidden name of the game here, for those who venture to ED's website, but not to any Broadway show. Llexi Leon is more than just another guitarist but the co-creator behind the world of ED ... which is actually a comic book series that brings together lost souls, twisted dreams & rock guitarists with magical powers. There's also animated mini-movies & a tv pilot in the works. Numerous famous musicians have contributed to this magical battle of music & evil including Gus G of Firewind & Billy Sheehan. The Phantom Of The Opera is thus just a slice of a bigger picture & a bit of the soundtrack to a comic world ... making this the first comic soundtrack & probably the last I've ever had the chance to review. While for many of us the song might be connected to the theater, for ED it is a duet between charaters Lyra & Loki, who fit the characters of the Phantom & Christine well. With this background the following two songs thus become like soundtrack pieces ... but without the bigger picture the EP ends up sounding like all the creativity went into "The Phantom Of The Opera" with two instrumentals to just fill up the album. The problem is that the opener has familiarity & thus gets all the attention. But the instrumentals, while in the same vein, hold some interesting arrangements. "Legends" includes a keyboard foundation against which rotates a calm classical guitar with electric soloing. It's an uncluttered duet with the softness of the classical guitar being the highlight as it takes up half the melody line & not just a fluff instrument as its often treated. Soft & sweet against gothic riffing. It is a perfect companion piece to "The Phantom Of The Opera." "Fallen" is in similiar form with sweeping keyboards & female voice sans the acoustic guitar. One wishes that the album was longer than just three songs where more musical diversity can be shown. While, there's little hint that the songs belong to the Eternal Descent comic.



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