Maybe it’s just me, but some tunes just seem to be made for the made for a rainy, dreary autumn afternoon; rain beating on the windows, sky grey and darkening. Chrysilia and their debut album Et in Arcadia Ego certainly fits this category, though in no negative sense of the word “dreary”. The Greek outfit blends symphonic metal with folk themes and a mythological dreamscape, brought to life by vocalist Chryso’s powerful voice and presence. Straight out of opening track By the Gates of Ypsus there seems to be no stopping the immersion brought about by the talented musicianship and thoughtful songwriting that focus not so much on the heavy side of metal, but on the sweeping melodics of classical music and the emotive performance by Chryso. If you are not incredibly picky about the amount of metal in your metal, Et in Arcadia Ego will prove to deliver.
The symphonic keyboards never really take the upper hand, but rather play a role similar to those of Odysseas’s violin presence, bringing about melodic tinges and great, whirling melodic leads. The instrumental buildup in title track; dense, slow war drums set with an increasing violin melody and atmospheric keyboards just ooze epicness, like the calm before the battle. Then the twist comes, and it’s even deeper, no blast into full force, but an instrumental piece that builds onward with the drums and keys being the main focus - put this track over a war epic like Braveheart and it will not feel out of place. Still, it works best as a mid piece to halve the album lest it become overwhelming, while as a standalone track it might not do best. Instead, the serenely beautiful Desperate Wings or the ‘round the campfire feel of Chrysilia - vocalist Chryso bordering on bardlike - make better on their own. Still, the album is meant to be taken whole, and that’s how it does best. Though the mentioned ones are some of the less metallic tracks on here, there is no shortage of those, either.
Talented guitarist Teo Ross gets more work on his hands in tracks like By the Gates of Ypsus and King of a Stellar War. Still heavy with folk elements however, the music never really seems to let the guitars reach their full potential. The riff work seems underdeveloped and the solos - when they appear - are bland. Perhaps in a natural sense, with the overall focus on John Matzakos’s keys, Odysseas’s violin and of course the operatic vocals of Chryso. Overall however, the blend of metal and classic elements with the folkier tunes is interesting and done well, evidently with a lot of passion and a sense of colorful storytelling. The entire album clocks in at just under 50 minutes (not counting bonus the bonus “operatic” version of Desperate Wings), but if you let it sweep you away it feels longer - in a good sense. Clearly, the album has its small flaws, little things to work on and bits and pieces that aren’t quite up to par with the best parts, but in all Chrysilia delivers a sweet debut; clever, mythological and heavily serene.
Standout tracks: By the Gates of Ypsus, Arcadia