Aside from the hired instrumentalists for this new act, Exit Eden are constituted by four female vocalists and, for their debut album, they've opted to cover a series of other bands' and artists' songs (despite press blurb boldly claiming they're "ready to do their very own thing"). The four ladies in question are Amanda Somerville; Clémentine Delauney; Marina La Torraca and Anna Brunner. There's some talent here, that's undeniable. Somerville and Delauney have already achieved a degree of respectability and success with their musical exploits over the years. However, 'Rhapsodies in Black' is, plain and simple, a spectacular failure, and a rancid arse of a record.
There's something very Spinal Tap about all this, from the music to the image they portray. In fact, I've not encountered anything this Spinal Tap in a while... which is saying something, considering some of the truly awful shit that's submitted for review each week. As pointless as an amp that goes up to eleven, and as bland as a cheese and pickle sandwich where someone has removed the pickle...and the cheese, 'Rhapsodies in Black' has all the charisma and oomph of a wet lettuce. They've made some terrible songs sound worse and some great songs sound terrible. This album really is the pits.
The cynic in me can't help but speculate whether this is a quick and easy way to capitalise on the trainspotter-esque obsession of a certain subset of metal fans... those who worship anything heavy and female fronted (and erroneously consider there to be a genre of "female fronted metal"). Considering the album/project within that context, it's a shameless box ticker, for sure. Four female vocalists are certain to ensnare said obsessives, right? But with the evident talent these ladies have, what could go wrong? Bottom line - they've taken eleven popular, non-metal songs, stripped them of all their emotional depths, and metalized the fuck out of 'em with some hideously clichéd and unimaginative arrangements that plod along with banal predictability. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, for the album cover, someone deemed it wise to get this tetrad of singers to pose in gothic attire, with marginally concerned expressions, within a scene that cries of a pseudo-sinister, Hammer Horror type aesthetic (complete with a chandelier dangling from a tree). Even the album's title doesn't really reflect the its content, but sounds as clichéd as the band's entire aesthetic. There are no "rhapsodies" to be found here, blackened or otherwise.
Aside from how utterly bland the entire album is, one of the worst qualities of 'Rhapsodies in Black' is that they've taken the whole venture way too seriously. It's far too serious for its own good. If you're going to attempt a project such as this, the emphasis needs to be on the fun aspect of the music. As such, it's completely devoid of fun and the seriousness of it all adds another nail to this turd of an album's coffin. There's zero entertainment value here. Just utter sonic bilge for musical masochists. I hasten to add, I do really like some of the original versions of the songs on this album... my problem is that the metalization feels forced, false, trite and with minimal creativity. It's just plain terrible. Shit, in fact. Festering excrement. 'Frozen' and 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' are particular low points in this shit fest.
I've awarded the album 2 points for a half decent production and some good (in places) vocal performances. Although not all the singing is good all the way through. There are some severely misplaced vocal histrionics where it sounds like they're being a little overzealous in trying to make their mark. Look no further than opener 'Question of Time'. A kick in the teeth to all Depeche Mode fans out there. A single cover on an album of original material would've been way more acceptable, even if it was an unimaginative metalized take on whatever track of choice, but an entire record is nothing more than an endurance test when it's this bad. All in all, I can't help but feel this album is a hideous waste of time. 48 minutes and 39 seconds of my time, to be precise.
RHAPSODIES IN BLACK
Review by Mark Holmes
4th August 2017
1) Question of Time
9) Total Eclipse
11) Fade to Grey
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"As pointless as an amp that goes up to eleven, and as bland as a cheese and pickle sandwich where someone has removed the pickle...and the cheese, 'Rhapsodies in Black' has all the charisma and oomph of a wet lettuce."