Jan 26

Emilie Autumn – Opheliac

by Edward, Filed under: Reviews

This is a rather late review, but at first glance I was not sure I would like this CD. When I see the terms electronic or industrial associated with a CD, I fear, from past experience, that the content will be club “danceola” that I am not particularly enamored of. However, this was certainly not the case with “Opheliac”, and I quickly became enchanted with it. Part of this may have to do with the fact that Emilie Autumn is a classically trained violinist, whose interests span the medieval through baroque periods as well as modern forms. And of course, the Victorian-esque atmosphere and her use of period instruments also add to the allure. But the music is the main course. The wonderful “Opheliac” opens with harpsichord, then Emilie’s sultry vocals, only to take off like a runaway locomotive. There is a sort of hip-hop vocal interlude, counterbalanced with violin and slamming percussion. “Swallow” sounds eerily Eighties. Both vocals and arrangements gave me severe flashbacks, but pleasant ones, I will add. The layered vocals are very effective. You think this torment is romantic/well it’s not except to you”. The refrain is filled with longing and despair. “…but I’ll come back to haunt you if I drown.” This song ran through my head for several days after I first heard it. “Liar” starts with rather demented violin, and then edgy electronics kick in. Harpsichord paired with programmed drums in an industrial sounding background add a strange dichotomy. Her powerful violin and wails of “are you suffering?…I want to see your pain” drive the song to an abrupt finish “The Art of Suicide” slows down the pace a bit, with plaintive harpsichord, strings and flowing vocals. All in all, an exquisite song. “I Want My Innocence Back” has a harder feel, danceable without being monotonous. The soaring vocals are my favorite component of the song. They turn harsher later, then revert to a plea “I want my innocence back…” at the end of the song. Misery Loves Company” has a rather catchy arrangement, opening with electronics and fast vocals. These are admirably balanced by strings. You are so easy to read/but the book is boring me..” . Emilie’s harmonies are fantastic, and the song ends with a wonderful violin and harpsichord finale. On “God Help Me”, Emilie sounds remarkably like Sinead O’Conner, though perhaps a bit more direct. Discordant piano, apocalyptic percussion and the orchestral strings combine into a very energetic tableau. The song races to a close with her strident, yet somehow angelic sounding vocals and racing piano almost reminiscent of barrelhouse, and a climactic string section. “Shalott”, a contemorary rendering of one of my favorite Pre-Raphaelite poems, is fabulous. This fast paced number evokes shades of the Eighties, and also reminds me a wee bit of Tori Amos. The strings and dramatic vocals are superb. “Gothic Lolita” has a synth foundation, with layered vocals and strings. “Dead is the New Alive” is a great song in the Gothic vein. Eminently danceable, it is not beat-driven like so much music found in clubs. The electronics and vocals also have a vaguely Eighties feel, with a quite catchy chorus. The violin is simply fabulous. “I know where you sleep” is a cacophonous piece that is strangely compelling, matching the lyrical theme of a master manipulator unveiled: “You play the victim very well/you build your self-indulgent hell.” “Let the Record Show” is rather Industrial-sounding, with strings and a tolling bell providing a fine balance. The CD finishes with a lovely acoustic version of ”The Art of Suicide”.

The CD set also included a second CD of bonus material! Included are five short videos, a picture gallery; three poems, including the deliciously dark “How to Break a Heart”; outtakes; an interview; and several songs. There is some fine material here, including the instrumental “Dominant” and the brooding “306”. “Marry Me” is rather whimsical, and Emile’s rendition of Bach’s “Largo for Violin” is very lovely with harpsichord accompaniment. In short, there is a very diverse collection here that highlights the versatility and talent of Emily Autumn. Fans of Steampunk, Victoriandustrial, Goth, and Dark Cabaret should definitely acquire this CD. Anyone who appreciates something that ventures beyond familiar music boundaries will enjoy it immensely as well. I would truly love to see Emilie Autumn in concert.



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