Element - _Smoke_
by: Quentin Kalis (3.5 out of 5)
I vaguely remember a black / death metal demo called _Daemonopolis_ recorded by an Element from 2001, but I would never have thought that the very modern sounding _Smoke_ was recorded by the same band. This shift is probably not as sudden as it seemed, as they have released several more demos and an independent full-length in the intervening six years, long enough for their sound to incrementally shift away from black / death. This is purely speculative, and Element may very well have undergone a radical metamorphosis.

Again I digress. _Smoke_ is a four track promo available for download as a well-designed Flash file including artwork and other band info. Full marks for presentation. Now on to the music...

Element refer to their preferred music style, as "neo death" (which also accounts for the name of the label established by the band to release their material) and there is no shortage of bands who like to think of cute names for their music; so what does "neo death", as epitomised by _Smoke_, actually mean? The answer seems to be a contemporary, thrash tinged death metal, with an array of effects borrowed from industrial dance, and sounding much like _Necessary Evil_ era Salem jamming with Fear Factory. Speaking of which, they utilise similar rolling down tuned barre chords not dissimilar to Dino Cazares' (guitarist, FF) deliberate rudimentary style, and appear to possess a similar dystopian view of a future which pits man against technology. Apparently, they use a five string bass and seven string guitar, a popular choice amongst the prog crowd, but it doesn't sound as if the extra range is being fully utilised -- not a single lead emerges over the course of four songs.

I wouldn't normally choose something like this over the symphonic black / death of _Daemonopolis_, but in the case of Element, the drastic shift in style is to be welcomed, in providing something that (to these ears, at least) has yet to be exhausted.

Contact: http://www.elementneodeath.com

(article published 31/12/2007)

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