Elis Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky

If at first you confuse Elis with Theatre of Tragedy or Leaves’ Eyes you’d be making an understandable mistake. Produced by Alexander Krull (Atrocity, Leaves’ Eyes), Dark Clouds in a Perfect Sky is brought to life by the dominant melodies of Sabine Duenser, who at times sounds remarkably like Liv Kristine (ex-ToT, Leaves’ Eyes). This is the band’s second release under the name Elis (they began as Erben der Schöpfung), and while it does fall clearly into that gothic/neo-classical category that also includes bands like Tristania and Sirenia, as the album unfolds it displays enough individuality to easily be enjoyed for its own strengths. The best tracks tend to be those that, like "Heart in Chains,” take advantage of Tom Saxer’s guttural growls, but it’s more for textures than any heaviness factor — thick (and very polished) guitar riffs keep the metal flowing, anchoring the album with a weighty low-end in direct contrast to the light and airy medieval accents and Duenser’s soaring vocals. (Napalm)