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Selene - Paradise Over

Selene - CD Review
Paradise Over

Selene Paradise




Self Released
6 tracks
English lyrics
9.5 / 10

Selene, Paradise Over, Self Released, 6 tracks, 2014, English lyrics, 9.5 / 10

When we talk about material from the UK it’s generally English. We don’t get a lot of Irish, we don’t get a lot of Scotts, we don’t get a lot of Welsh. But, there is material coming from those locations, some of it very good. That’s especially true of Ireland, both the Republic and Northern Ireland. And, those of us with an Irish background (many Americans have some sort of Irish background) are more than a little interested in promoting it. Well, with Selene, we get something solid to talk about. This is material to warm the heart of any Irishman, and it fits into our musical genre in a number of respects.

Jefe on this release is John Conner, no, not the guy from the Terminator. Conner put things together in 2013, came out with a first release about that time and followed it up with the present release. Now, to be sure, this is not a big band. Big John does guitars and keys so this is probably something you’ll see with a lot of samples in live presentation. But, the dude seems to have it together, the guitars are stirling and the symphonics meet all the requirements of the genre. And, the lovely lass doing the vocals, one Shonagh Lyons, and if that doesn’t meet your requirements for an Irish name I don’t know what does, contributes a first rate job of keeping up her end of the bargain. The band relates that she’s a classically trained vocalist currently completing a Masters degree in “performance” at University Ulster. And just to keep us in the right frame of mind, the band suggests that the name “Selene” comes from Sonata Arctica’s “My Selene”, one of John Connor’s all-time favourite songs, becoming his personal tribute to his Finnish Power Metal heroes. Works for me ain’a.

The band allows as how they’re from L/Derry and when I think of that part of the world I think of whiskey. But, that happens a lot with me, pretty much everything in Ireland and Scotland makes me think of whiskey, and I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it. Pass me the Jameson Gold, there’s a good lad. But clearly, there’s more than whiskey coming from this part of the Emerald Isle. This is solid material, well written, well produced and providing everything we look for in this genre. When I think of Irish music certain things come to mind: that flowing beat, the beauty of the Irish sound and, quit often, a lovely female vocal. Damned if we don’t get it all here, along with a solid progressive metal vehicle that delivers it all in a manner that makes it accessible to all of us. I know the general characteristics of the music make it a universal sound in some respects, but here, we get something that also delivers a bit o’ the green. Not sure exactly how that works, but it damn sure works, and the Irish in me is more than a little pleased. There’s sure and a bit o’ the ol’ sod here and this Irish soul is happy to experience it.

The EP is 6 tracks, none exceptionally long but most developed to the extent that you don’t feel you haven’t gotten a taste to meet your needs. There’s music to meet most of your general requirements: crunching metal, symphonics to soothe the savage beast, a bit o’ the Gothic for your darker requirements and all delivered in multiple frameworks. There’s that underlying Irish sound that makes it unique but, in the broader sense, this is material that you’re going to be comfortable with, whether you’re from Bolivia, Canada or the Ukraine. I mean, damn, we ALL love the Irish.

Well, ya know the Irish have long been known for beautiful music. But, they’ve also long been known for poetry that stirs the soul and takes us to a more profound understanding of life and the multiple components that describe it. And this release doesn’t disappoint us in either of those elements. Solid music but some thoughts that take us to places that awaken deeper emotions. And, with this release, we’re provided those thoughts by a vocal that only enhances those components and make the experience even more rewarding. We begin with a truly Gothic sound, keyboard based, that takes us to the symphonic. But the metal isn’t far behind. Facing the Mirror makes sure we understand that this will be solid Femme Metal, with all the garnishing we have come to expect. The guitars are a bit o’ the green, the vocals of the lovely Shonagh take us to Gothic places where the magic is on full display:

All I see, each night / I face the mirror
Is my Green Eyes staring right back at me
All things good / Small words, that really matter
Gone for good, and turn hearts to stone

The beauty of this release is that it covers more bases than a San Francisco Giants infielder. The second track begins like an Irish insurrection. Remember, there’s only 4 people here, this sounds like a dozen. But, as the metal softens, we return to that lovely Irish songstress, she does things with her voice that are damn near criminal. There’s an ocean of sound here, symphonics that are near overpowering combined with that crushing vocal that present something hard to ignore. We get a solid guitar section that puts things into perspective but even that gives way to the vocal that drives the sound. Drummer Cameron Ashlund-Glass pounds out a sound that makes the Charge of the Light Brigade sound boring. Again, the thoughts expressed give us pause:

I hide away, can someone find me
Break down the the chains that bind me
Everything I've tried to do / Is not enough
I see myself, the shattered fortress
Regrets I can not forget / Everything I've tried to do
Is not enough For you

I must admit to finding the lyrics in this release to be of interest, pretty much throughout the 6 tracks. I asked about them and was provided the following thoughts: “Lyrically the songs are focused on melancholy with them being an extrapolated and exaggerated version of real events and feelings but all grow from an auto biographical place.” And there you have it. The music seems to capture the feeling of the lyrics as well, just in a slightly different way. The third track, Still Dreaming is a more Gaelic sounding entity. And the lyrics match that sound.

The last three tracks follow this model. Paradise Over is a bit more complex, especially the symphonic component. There’s even what sounds like a bit of a choral element. Lyrically we get what sounds something like an ol’ time Gospel sound within the Gothic music that delivers it:

Every Single night
it feels like paradise is over
All the time we've had has turned to dust
So take me to river / Bathing in the stars around
Til Charon takes me over
Sleep until the sun goes down / in ever lasting peace

There are other sounds that meet the requirements for interesting us in the Femme Metal realm throughout the Emerald Isle. This is one of the best but there are others. And yours truly may be undertaking some serious on site research into the area soon as it warms up over there. Lots of good prices for air fare to Dublin and they say the whiskey is outstanding. I plan to report in full on both.