Elephants in Paradise – Wake Up (Edelstahl Records)Wednesday, 14th February 2018
Featuring Jacobs Moor drummer Rainer Lidauer who kindly sent this scribe this album for review, Elephants in Paradise started in the summer of 2015 and grew out of two songs from bassist Christoph Scheffel – quickly signing on Rainer and guitarist Rupert Traxler to complete the instrumental side of the group. It took another year or so to gain Cara Cole as the singer, and we finally have the fruits of their labor in this debut full-length Wake Up. While straddling the lines of alternative, gothic, and symphonic metal there are certain pop/rock elements that make this a peppy, catchy and overall entertaining record that has far reaching appeal.
Elephants in Paradise keep their eyes on the hook prize – from the music to the vocals, there are numerous melodic and harmonic aspects that hit you instantly. Starting with the opener “Forever Free”, the layered harmonies from verses to chorus and back, including background vocals that could recall En Vogue, suck you in – Cara also incorporating a short rap bit that works for the mid-tempo groove and crunchy, Lacuna Coil-ish guitar/bass movements. The stunted stop/start semi-ska passages against the heavier distortion for instance along with Cara’s expressive, multi-octave melodies put the title track into that rarefied 90’s No Doubt territory if thrown into a metal template. The follow up “Losing Paradise” possesses a spacious, circular Rupert led guitar riff reminiscent of Iron Maiden circa Seventh Son before transitioning into this addictive, upbeat mid-section and chorus that makes audiences jump and shout along. Cyber/electronic keyboard fusion enters at times as an added spice treat, but never dominating the output – as the rhythm section throws about some progressive nuances to “Angry Angels” that make this cut a second half highlight. And there’s nothing wrong with throwing some David Gilmour-esque dotted notes to the sultry “Love and Hate” landscape, making the heavier, crunchier chorus that much more savage.
Keeping the material in that 3:17-4:30 radio-oriented sweet spot, Wake Up engages in a focused, get the idea in, execute, and move forward to the next musical thought brilliantly. Elephants in Paradise are a buzz bin worthy quartet to watch, especially if you enjoy occasional spots of progressive musicianship amidst the modern/gothic/alternative metal landscape.