It was in 2018, while I was covering the Sabaton Open Air in Falun, Sweden, that I heard Eleine for the first time. I was instantly drawn to the striking vocals of Madeleine “Eleine” Liljestam and the heavy symphonic music. I became an instant fan. It was a little over a year later that Eleine released their All Shall Burn EP. I reached out to Rikard Ekberg and Madeleine, and we set up an interview. During that interview, I told them this EP was such a tease and asked when we could expect a full album? They said that they had a few songs but were concentrating on a tour. Fair enough, and the EP still made my top 10 albums of 2019.
Well, as we all know, 2020 canceled just about everything and left us all in quarantine. That being said, the only thing good to come out of COVID is I got my wish. A full-length Eleine album! Dancing in Hell is what happens when your plans are put on hold because of a global pandemic.
It is as if the negative side of 2020 fueled Eleine into making an album that is darker, harder, and simply brilliant.
Dancing in Hell starts with “Enemies.” The song originally appeared on the All Shall Burn EP and foreshadows what the next ten songs hold in store. Heavy riffs are paired with symphonic overtures and mixed with Madeleine’s heavenly but still sinister voice.
The title track “Dancing in Hell” follows and adds growls from guitar maniac Rikard. Listen up because “Ava of Death” is up next, and I will say this now and repeat it at the end of the year. This is one of my favorite songs of the year! “Ava of Death” should open every Eleine show from now on, period. The song’s operettic intro rivals ‘O Fortuna’ from Carmina Burana. The beat of the drums then begins and rules the rest of the song. As the guitars are introduced, symphonic overtures take over and ride parallel perfectly with Madeleine’s seductive voice. When I first heard this song, it was literally on repeat for hours blasting in my car, then with headphones on, and finally loud enough in my living room to vibrate the vases during the drum intro.
“Crawl From the Ashes” has the dubious fate to have to follow, but fear not, it holds its ground. “Memoriam” continues with beats of thunder by drummer Jesper Sunnhagen mixed with the bass of Anton Helgesson. This song is beautiful in so many ways and vocally showcases the magnificence of Eleine.
If you think things were going to stay pretty, you are dead wrong because we arrive at “Where Your Rotting Corpse Lie.” It mixes growling vocals with clean ones and provides a midtempo beat that I just found myself (yet again) listening to over and over. This track is not to be missed. “Die From Within” is a mix of clean vocals mixed with growls and full symphonic bliss. Another one of my favorite tracks. “The World We Knew” is a 90 second piano intro into the final song, which is the full symphonic version of “Die From Within.”
There is no band today that can add a symphony into an album and get the results that Eleine has constructed with Dancing in Hell. It sounds as though you are listening to a movie score with metal music mixed in for added effect. If you need any more reason to hear this album listen to the tracks released, I guarantee that you will put Dancing in Hell on your top albums of 2020. Eleine will release Dancing in Hell to the masses on November 27, 2020.