For those of you who prefer to spend Christmas alone like me, you know that a nuance of somber orchestral music hits the spot. Those shades of delicate notes somehow get under your skin and breathe a new life into your veins that takes you great distances from reality just so you can witness the stage where music is a storyteller. With the snow freely trickling down to the ground and the frozen lake dimly lit by Luna, a choir of faint strings is the most welcoming thing for this time. The best thing about modern classical is that it takes the paramount attributes from the past that while accumulating the composer’s own new ideas that usually bring a fresh take on the evergrowing sound.
Elend has done something special with this release. The latter six tracks are all stripped down renditions of songs from their previous release, Les Tenebres du Dehors, while the first three are new songs that serve as perfect compliments to the established tone. Since all of Elend’s albums retain abrasive and chaotic textures, this is one of the ways to show the band isn’t a one-trick pony. This release also exclusively features the female vocalist Nathalie Barbary, and excludes any shrieks the other records are familiar with.
The first three songs are the only new material like previously mentioned. Weeping Night opens to perfectly illustrate the Rembrandt album art. Tubular bells, steady harp, and timpani slowly set the mood for the isolation in a faintly lit chamber.
O Solitude is a rendition of Henry Purcell’s “A Song on the Ground”, which clarifies the song’s traditional structure and sole use of a reed organ and cello. This song is as baroque as it gets. To further tribute the late composer, The Embrace is a loose adaptation of Purcell’s final piece he worked on while on his deathbed. Elend’s version is intense in a subtle sense, with thought out accents and the power of only one vocal line.
From Nocturne on, the tracks are all “acoustic” renditions of songs from the previous album, and they sound just as spectacular but in their own rite. The absence of piercing trills of dissonant strings unveils a fresh look at these pieces, and the addition of fragile synths and dominant brass makes these almost like completely new songs. The Luciferian Revolution used to be a uncompromising whirlwind of madness and splendor, whereas this version is seriously one of the most beautiful works I’ve ever heard. It’s really interesting to listen to the songs from both albums back to back to make contrasts and realize all the different things you can do to a “completed” song.
Elend is an important entity in the world of modern music because they are able to work in old elements as well as some present-day classical/metal components, if you can pick up on them, and merge them with their own unique techniques and visions in order to bring these studied compositions and concepts. So far, the whole discography is made of two separate concepts. This album is merely a way for the band to step back from their formula and expand on their softer, sensitive material. No classical fan should miss this.