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INTROITUS - "Elements"

There is a very much familiar vibe at the core of Swedish progsters Introitus with the husband/wife combination of Mats and Anna Bender on keyboards and lead vocals respectively, alongside what I'm presuming are their offspring, drummer Mattias Bender and percussionist/keyboardist Johanna Bender, both of whom also provide backing vocals. Together with guitarist Henrik Björlind (also credited with flute and yet more keyboards), lead guitarist Pär Helje, and bassist Dennis Lindqvist, Introitus have delivered a mightily fine dose of retro flavoured, yet contemporary sounding, epic prog. While this, their sophomore full length release, sits at the rockier end of the prog spectrum, some harder-edged moments in the form of sporadic chunky guitar riffs and powerful drumming will also please those whose proclivity is more aligned to the metal side of prog. Bear in mind, though, that keyboard does feature heavily on this album, often prominent in the mix (no surprise there, I suppose, with three of the seven personnel involved credited with keys!), but the diversity of keyboard sounds on offer is rather astonishing and makes for a fully engaging listen. However, above all that, what's genuinely special about this album is some very fine songwriting with sublime melodies weaving through some well-structured, perfectly paced, and beautifully crafted compositions. And it's all executed to perfection. I have to admit not being too gripped during the first two or three minutes of opening track 'The Hand That Feeds You', not that the music is particularly bad or anything, rather nothing that really stands out. But, as the song develops during its 14+ minute playing time, some neat, unexpected twists and turns begin to garner attention and draw you into its sonic charms. And there lies the essence of the album - it is meant to be digested as a whole rather than in parts. That is to say, give it the time it deserves and the musical rewards are there to reap. True to its title, the 'elements' are present in four short instrumental pieces, 'Earth', 'Wind', 'Fire' and 'Water', interposed between the main lengthy compositions that constitute the album, with songs segueing into each other so there's a nice flow to the entire thing. Influence-wise, the press sheet alludes to Glass Hammer, latter days Kaipa and Pink Floyd, all of which can be heard but, beyond that, Introitus transcend their influences through the skilful songwriters they evidently are with some truly captivating and original melodies throughout. Special mention must also go to Anna Jobs Bender as her vocal performance is nothing short of stunning as she showcases both her power and range in a note perfect performance. In an age where many contemporary prog bands have become self-indulgent and a pale pastiche of those they mimic, Introitus are one of a few acts that shine through the pack. Gripping and incredible on every level."
Rating: 9/10

"Introitus, a new Swedish band, re-explore the symphonic prog concept with lots of freshness.
This album is very dynamic. I admit to have fallen under its spell and I listen and I listen again and again with pleasure. ”Elements" totally deserves the strongest Prog-Mania Recommendation!"
Rating: 5 out of 5

Introitus have previously released only their debut album Fantasy (2007), but now they are back with their sophomore album Elements. Introitus is the brainchild of Mats Bender (keyboards) and his wife Anna Jobs Bender (lead vocals), and they definitely treat Elements like a lesson in quality Progressive Rock. The Bender's are joined by their children Johanna (percussion, keyboards, backing vocals) and Mattias (drums, backing vocals), as well as Henrik Björlind (guitars, flute, keyboards), Pär Helje (lead guitars, backing vocals), and Dennis Lindqvist (bass). Also joining them for the song "Soulprint" is Stefan Ekedahl on cello.
Anna has a beautiful voice and handles both the emotional down-tempo parts and segments where she needs a lot of strength with impressive ease. Mats has the ability to play technical keyboard solos as well as "playing second fiddle" by just laying chords. He does all of this in good taste, and there's no showing off here. That goes for the other band members as well ... all is done for the greater good of the songs. The standouts on this record are probably the strong album-opener "The Hand That Feeds You" and "Restless." The former for its seemless journey through different emotions, tempos, and the formidable display of dynamics, and the latter for it's impressive instrumental parts; it keeps you on your toes throughtout the song.
If you're a bit of a nitpicker, you could say there are only five songs on this album because the four songs (the four elements) in-between are short instrumental interludes that last no longer than two minutes. However, those five songs offer a lot of music -- their length span ranges from eight to seventeen minutes. The music on Elements is definitely something unique. You could say it resembles post-Roger Waters era Pink Floyd at times on the slower and epic parts with wailing and emotional guitar solos, but there are also semi-heavy parts and impressive instrumental parts that will blow you away. Combining this with the obvious talent of the band members, you've got a band that's right at the front line of being one of the most innovative bands within today's Progressive Rock scene. Elements isn't only recommended for Progressive Rock fans; this is a must-have."
RATING: 9 out of 10

"As a retro progger, what can you more wish for?"
RATING: 4,5 out of 5

"After the short instrumental and ambient "Earth" will "Like always", which is one of the most beautiful declarations of love that I've ever heard. It's a bit hard to understand why it is the same person (mother Anna) who wrote the text for both this song and the opening "The hand That Feeds You". There are traces of Isildur's Bane in INTROITUS music and I think it is well illustrated in the right "Like always", though I do not think Mats Johansson of Isildur would fix that writing such a beautiful and simple song like this. No offense, Mats J!
In the instrumental "Restless" is the son Mattias who is responsible for composing and there is a track that breaks the other material on the plate with a much more complex structure and a lot of twists and turns, and this may also Mattias show that he is a talented drummer!
"Dreamscape" is back in the more melodic and beautiful music as the older part of the family Bender's rise. It's a nice song with beautiful harmonies and especially nice keyboards.

The whole album ends with the seventeen-minute "Soulprint" in which kinship to Isildur's Bane once again asserts itself. The song begins with a beautiful melody that follows through the whole song and it gets a little classical when the instrumentation is mostly acoustic with cello, flute and something that could be a xylophone, but probably is a synth. Despite its seventeen minutes to get this beautiful song never boring, and along with "Like always" then this is the albums major highlight!

INTROITUS is very impressive and it is thanks to a talented songwriter in Mats Bender, who composed music that is beautiful, emotional, strong and life-affirming. It is music that creates emotional landscapes instead of innovative land, musical harmony instead of musical achievements. I feel so incredibly happy every time I listened to "Elements" because that’s what happen when the music is so positive and good as it is on this album!"
Rating: 9/10


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