Published on December 23rd, 2017 | by Justin G.
The Dark Element: The Dark Element (Frontiers)
In the interest of disclosure, I really didn’t like the two Nightwish albums with vocalist Anette Olzon. I found her poppy vocals too much of a contrast to that band’s epic symphonic style. She’s a hell of a singer though, so a project that pairs her voice with a catchier, more pop metal style of songwriting is a very compelling idea. That’s exactly what we get in The Dark Element. It’s the brainchild of Finnish guitarist/songwriter/producer Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica), and it’s a lot of fun.
The Dark Element’s self-titled debut is exactly the kind of metal/hard rock Olzon was meant to sing. It’s super-melodic and keyboard-oriented, but still has a hard rock crunch and plenty of metallic moments. There’s still a nod to that symphonic Nightwish sound, but it’s tempered by a pop-influenced side that’s closer to the new Battle Beast album. It helps that they have Jacob Hansen, who has some very relevant experience with Amaranthe, mixing the album.
Olzon sounds fantastic here, and so much more at home on these songs than she ever did in Nightwish. I love the poppier material like “My Sweet Mystery” and “The Last Good Day,” but the title track, “Dead To Me” and “The Ghost and the Reaper” are also standouts of this very strong, very addictive album.
I really hope this isn’t the only time Liimatainen, Olzon and Hansen work together, because they have a winning formula here. The Dark Element is a fantastic melodic “pop metal” album that’s sure to please fans of Olzon’s prior work, especially in Alyson Avenue, as well as fans of bands like Battle Beast, Amaranthe and Delain. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we see of this particular collaboration.
Summary: This combination works very well.