What makes a band re-release an almost 10 year's old album, and does it stand the test of time, or is it outdated?
I bought quite some of Eldritch releases from the description that it should be “progressive power-/thrash metal at the very best” – that seemed the ideal mix for me. What’s the best is always a matter of personal taste, but I like Eldritch, although they never actually were one of my absolute favourites. Somehow their albums never quite caught me like the albums of several other power- or thrash-bands did. Maybe some of the explanation for that are the vocals of Terence Holler, which never really convinced me – he’s not the greatest singer in the genre (no offence).
The guitar sound on the album is great, very apparent and crispy, and in general is the guitar work on El Niño very solid and with some catchy riffs. The sound of the rest of the instruments doesn’t quite live up to the guitar sound, and the keyboards are in places almost disco-(!) or techno-like, and that’s really annoying! In other places, the keyboard work is very cool, and pulls in the progressive direction.
The press release for this re-release states, that this, their third album, was a marking of change of style for the band towards Metallica- and Annihilator-influence, instead of “just” being inspired by (prog-) bands like Queensrÿche and Fates Warning. Okay, the genre defining is always up for discussion, but I honestly have a hard time recognizing neither Metallica nor Annihilator, and there’s in my opinion very little thrash on this album, and the prog elements are there all right, but the general impression is still genuine power-metal.
Apart from the overhauled (according to the press release for the album – whatever that means – is it remixed?) tracks of the original recording, the reissue-CD contains a formerly hidden track (apparently still fashionable to do in those days – I never understood the idea of hiding a track…), a previously unreleased track, and some demos from ’98. The sound of the demos are of course not that great, and unless you are a power-fan and by any chance don’t own this album, the extra material doesn’t justify this reissue more than for collectors. As mentioned before I can’t figure out if the album has been remixed or not
In spite of the age of the original recording, and the other things mentioned above, I still think it’s one of Eldritch’ best releases, and in some ways I like it better than their new stuff. So an obvious option for power metal fans, and Eldritch fans that doesn’t already own the original album.