Elvaron‘Ghost of a Blood Tie’ is the fifth album by this French quartet formed way back in 1993. I’m really not certain whether their older material is substantially heavier, but this new album is very easy listening with the occasional nod to hard rock and plenty more to prog. Their music is very keyboard/piano orientated, but still has tons of guitars with some great riffs and impeccable leads to liven it up nicely.

The album opens with “The Journey Within” and what initially feels like a piano concerto by Shuguang Li, however once Frédéric Renaut and Julien Skorka come in on the drums and bass the mood changes and the flurry of riffs by Matthieu Morand have a very power metal polish to their speedy delivery, especially the leads.

Christelle Harau’s accordion is immediately apparent on “Silent Windows” as is the clarinet played by Alexia Balandier, but it’s the vocals by Matthieu Morand which are rather distinct. They have a rather raspy hint of discontent to them which I feel works rather well as a contrast to the very smooth sounds of the music.

Laura Kimpe’s vocals on “A Price to Pay” are truly exquisite and highlight of the track for me, that’s not to say the rest of the song is bad, on the contrary, it’s rather dynamic and has plenty of changes, it’s just that her vocals were unexpected while brief they add something to the song.

“From a Brother to a Shadow” blends the piano and guitar riff extremely well and even allows the lead to flow out thereof with ease as the song changes direction with the drum speeding up considerably as it progresses.

There are both guitar and piano leads on “No Town of Mine”, which at some point even come across as piano-guitar trade-offs as they slide from one to the other.

“Run Away in Fright” opens with some very 70s style manic keyboards which tone down to become a harmonious accompaniment as the guitars drive along over the steady thump of the drumming and anguished vocals by Timmy Michels.

The shortest track on the album is the minimalistic “Distant Shores”, comprising of piano and vocals, and it’s amazing how much emotion can be conveyed with such stark content. This is a complete contrast to the final track which is 5 times the length and has so many movements and changes making “The Man Who Wears My Face” definitely the stand out track on the album. François Thisy’s guitar lead is also pretty impressive in the way it runs all over the fretboard for its couple minute duration.

While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly has enough going on to keep plenty of people satisfied and is far from boring in any way.

(7/10 Marco Gaminara)