Eternal Elysium

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One of many Japanese bands proffering slightly "bent" interpretations of Western hard garage and/or psychedelic rock forms, Eternal Elysium has been peddling its trade longer than most. Yet, amazingly, despite nearly a decade of activity, 2002's Share is only the trio's third album proper, a fact explained away by volatile band membership and screwy record contracts. A seven-year gap followed the band's 1993 debut, so that when they finally did score a reliable contract from Meteor City, Eternal Elysium spent much of 2000's excellent Spiritualized D opus working their way through the previous years' huge backlog of quality music. Not surprisingly, turning right around and trying to come up with another album of brand-new material only two years later resulted in a far less road-tested or fool-proof collection of songs, marking Share as a mixed bag, to say the least. Traversing a wide range of psychedelically obsessed doom metal and hard rock, tracks on Share usually fall into one of two categories: short, punchy rockers or long, overdrawn epics (i.e., 8-9 minutes). All this would be fine and good were these truly accomplished compositions, but only a handful of cuts reconcile the band's ever-imaginative songwriting with any decent hooks -- chief among these the driving "Movements and Vibes" and the gargantuan "Waiting for the Sun." But, for the most part, though they evince frequent flashes of inspired lunacy and freaky-cool asides, Eternal Elysium's mad-hatter aural soup rarely condenses into a truly hearty meal. Put bluntly, there's a fine line between free-form and unfocused, and the band's non-linear arrangements and unexpected permutations tend to the latter on Share.

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