Ah, the almost forgetten and certainly neglected Italian progressive/power metal act Eldritch...for some reason, they don't seem to get mentioned too much these days, but they certainly have made an impact on the scene and released some solid albums over the last decade. El Nino is their third release, originally released in 1998 but out of print for a while, now remastered with bonus tracks by Limb Music Products. The music of Eldritch was always (and even more so these days) heavier than most prog-metal groups, and more of a melodic thrash style with soaring vocals and plenty of keyboards. El Nino was the album that really opened the doors for them, and is pretty solid from top to bottom.
The first thing you notice here is the absolutely shredding & bone crunching guitar playing of chief songwriter Eugene Simone. This guy can really rip on the guitar, as evident on crushers like "Bleed Mask Bleed", "No Direction Home", "From Dusk Till Dawn", and "To Be or Not to Be (God)". He certainly packs a metal punch throughout this CD, occasionally giving way to keyboard player Oleg Smirnoff for a speedy solo. When the two decide to trade off a bit, that's when the Dream Theater comparisons come into play a bit, but for the most part the style here is melodic and at times atmospheric thrash metal. Lead singer Terence Holler has a strong voice, perfectly suited for this style of music, and although you can detect a slight accent from time to time, even a few off-key moments as well, for the most part he puts in a very solid performance here. Catchy melodies, powerful vocals, beefy guitar riffs, virtuoso guitar solos, lots of keyboards, and tight rhythm work, that's the formula here, and it works.
You get six bonus cuts on this remaster, most being demo tracks that are hit or miss for the most part but still worth having, as well as a cover version of the Yngwie Malmsteen classic "Dreaming". The band does a good job on this one, and while Holler struggles a tad on some of Joe Lynn Turner's higher pitched passages, as a whole it works, with Simone really nailing Yngwie's solo quite well. End result here is a welcome reissue of an important late 90's thrash/prog/power metal album, jammed with extras and well worth seeking out if you are new to Eldritch or interesting in upgrading your old CD copy.
1. Fall From Grace 2:06
2. No Direction Home 7:04
3. Heretic Beholder 5:04
4. Scar 4:25
5. Bleed Mask Bleed 4:37
6. The Last Days Of The Year 4:31
7. From Dusk Till Dawn 5:37
8. To Be Or Not To Be (God) 7:14
9. Nebula Surface (former hidden track) 6:05
10. El Niño 5:35
11. Dreaming (bonus previously unreleased) 5:19
12. Intoxicated (bonus demo 1998) 3:13
13. Sparkling Vision (bonus demo 1997) 4:54
14. In My Will (bonus demo 1998) 2:57
15. Unfairy Tale (bonus demo 1998) 3:57
16. (Dead)icated (bonus demo 1998) 4:47