Elsesphere is one of the most overlooked and criminally underrated bands to come out of Sweden. Now long defunct, Blind Leading the Blind is their first and only album.
The band's music is heavily characterized by the 90s doomy Swedish metal movement with progressive tendencies. Remember bands like early Tad Morose with tons of intricate song structures foiled by dark synth lines, dexterous guitar work, and some of the finest mid-90s Candlemass vocalizations. Vocalist Jonny "Bix" Berndtsson is the highpoint of the band. He has some of the most expressive vocal styles you will ever hear. Rather than the Marcolin period, think a cross between Chapter VI's Tomas Vikstrom and Abstrakt Algebra's Mats Leven. Often times, the songs are based on his unorthodox vocal parts. On "Andromeda Strain," the synths follow his melodies closely, doubling them at key points, and paving the way for the guitars before the song concludes with an awesome unison solo.
In other words, Elsesphere represents the 90s Candlemass when their ardent doom fans didn't consider them doomy enough and prog enthusiasts found them too dark. At one point, every great band featured Mike Wead in some capacity, be it as guitar player, songwriter, or producer. Kristian Andren was another key figure appearing in cult bands like Memento Mori and Fifth Reason, mixing thrasy guitar riffs into complex, winding song structures and doom-laden melodies. The guitar work on "Mastermind" still reminds me of Mike Wead playing a killer lead in a band like Memory Garden or Veni Domine. Complete with a hook-laden chorus that goes like "How do you sleep at night?" and some female vocals (not the terrible gothic stuff, mind you), the song is chock full of tempo changes and subtle keyboard sounds. It just flows perfectly.
Every song involves a plethora of ideas. Other bands these days could put out a full-length release based on the material in one single tune here. "Hole inside My Head" is one of those songs. As is the case with other material, it's first the vocals that catch your attention, but each repeat listen reveals more detail and previously unheard melodies. The bass playing is fantastic, but it's not as immediate. The drumming is complex and anchors the whole rhythm nicely. Guitars are employed both as percussive elements and fluid, liquidy phrases. In a sense, this band is like Hexenhaus meets Odyssey (two other great Swedish bands from the 90s) toning down on their technical prowess and writing songs that are so strong that any metal fan with an open mind would find something to enjoy here.
The production is not the best you'll ever, but it fits the music's dark, brooding tone perfectly. It is a shame this band is no more (actually I believe none of the members except the keyboardist has played in another band), but for nearly ten years, I haven't tired of their music and don't think I ever will.
- Intro (Mental)
- Hole inside My Head
- Luna Sea
- Andromeda Strain
- Waging a War
- Last Night on Earth
- Seasons in Hell
- Requiem for a Dream