Opheliac

Emilie Autumn

Review score: 95%

Review Date: July 2012
Reviewer: Tali
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
(www.rockhardreviews.com)

Amazon UK: Buy CD | Buy MP3 / Amazon US: Buy CD | Buy MP3

Just out of an insane asylum after a suicide attempt, Emilie emerged with a story to tell and a new passion for life. The result was twofold, her novel ‘The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls’ and this album. She’ll happily tell anyone her story if they’ll watch her interviews on youtube.

First I should probably point out that Emilie is an acquired taste. I only noticed her in the first place because she came up on my last.fm and I thought ‘wow, that voice is annoying, shame since the song is so good’. Now I completely love it.

She’s not rock. Her music is mostly keyboards, vocals, and an ever present splash of violin. She was trained as a classical violinist before breaking away to explore other styles of music. I had never heard of an electric violin until I started listening to her stuff (it’s a haunting and brilliant instrument). Her lyrics contain a mixture of love (and heartbreak), death (and suicide) and fairy tale characters.

Emilie loves Shakespeare and identifies with the character of Ophelia from ‘Hamlet’. The word Opheliac is her own invention describing a condition where a person exhibits self destructive behaviour caused by internal (such as her own manic depression) and external (like a terrible boyfriend e.g. Hamlet) causes. A diagnosed mental illness can clear the external causes of all blame…or something like that. I’ve got a double disk edition with a definition in the cover booklet.

I could probably go on for hours about every song, but here are a few of the best:

Opheliac

The title song, starting with a cutesy harpsichord breaks down into her grungy voice. I seem to be the only person who thinks her voice is distorted by some kind of malfunction, but it disappears after the start. About five Emilies sing at you from different points in the song, in different styles. It does have a good beat at times and it’s a pretty good ranty music. If, like me, you are in the process of studying Hamlet (or know the play at all), then I can inform you that ‘doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love’ is a quote from the play. It’s from a love letter Hamlet wrote to Ophelia.

Shalott

A complete change from the previous songs, this is a sweet song. The music is mostly piano or harpsichord. Emilie’s sweet singing makes it nice to listen to and the music is far from the electric base of her other songs.

The song is based on the poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’, but sadly I can’t remember the author’s name. The lyrics describe a woman who is trapped in a tower and the only way she can see out is through a mirror. If she leaves the tower or looks through the window she will die. Emilie’s Shalott is sick of staying in her tower and just wants to go out and experience the world, even though she knows the world outside is ‘cold’. Shalott sees Lancelot standing outside, looks and activates her curse and decides to die in a boat going down to Camelot singing. The story’s a bit more complicated than that, but the original poem was repetitive and irritating to read. Her song is much more pleasant. Somewhere on the album outtakes she comments that it was one of her oldest songs, written well before her trip to the Asylum. This is probably why it sounds so different since the songs written then tend to be less harsh.

I know where you sleep

This is one of her angry songs along with Liar and Let the Record Show. This one is easy to sing along to and it good to listen to while you’re angry. The lyrics are repetitive and simple, but it fits the song, and the song in general is saying ‘I’m holding the cards now’ and should probably be followed with an evil laugh. The music is much closer to metal with a heavy beat.

Marry Me

Sadly, this one is on the second disk so might not come with every album. It’s a shame because it’s one of my favourites, even with the questionable rhyme of ‘buried’ and ‘married’. It has a happy harpsichord tune resembling ball room music from a Disney film. Her singing is much more pleasant now, soft and tuneful. So, when you actually listen to the lyrics you get a bit of a shock. The song is from the perspective of a Victorian woman whose father gave her away to some ugly man to be his wife. She’s not very happy with the arrangement, so she isn’t the best behaved wife.

Miss Lucy had some Leeches

This is another thing from the second disk and isn’t a song. It’s a poem that she reads out. Most of the versions on Youtube are spoken to the backing of clapping like children playing one of those pat-a-cake style games. It’s quite long, but I’ve somehow memorised all the words after listening to it so many times. It’s much more fun than anything you had to study in English classes at school. The words are rather disturbing and I have to assume it’s something to do with her Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls book. My version has a pause on the end (that always make me think a speaker broke) before a Victorian man calls for the help of all men to help him catch insane women and take them to an Asylum. I have to like the man because he can evil laugh so well.

The Pretty Stuff

Emily takes a good photo, no one on the internet seems to despute that. No wonder the album art is covered with her mostly looking like she’s running away in her corset and full length dress along with her bright red hair. Some effort went into the little booklet since it’s got a mixture of photos, drawings of things like pill bottles and hand written notes describing her thoughts or some lyrics. Her album is pretty well summed up with the jagged red little writing on cracked wallpaper in the middle of the booklet, underneath it says ‘Can you drown more than once?’ which pretty much sums up Emilie completely.

Conclusion

Emilie may write music about herself, but a lot of people can relate. Once you get used to her style it’s easy to get completely lost in her music. A lot of effort went into the album and it definitely shows. I would definitely suggest it to any Emo, goth or person who just doesn’t fit in right (wait, I think that’s everyone).

Buy Now! Amazon UK: Buy CD | Buy MP3 / Amazon US: Buy CD | Buy MP3


Track List (may vary)

Disk 1

  • Opheliac
  • Swallow
  • Liar
  • The Art of Suicide
  • I Want my Innocence Back
  • Misery Loves Company
  • God Help Me
  • Shalott
  • Gothic Lotita
  • Dead is the New Alive
  • I Know Where You Sleep
  • Let the Record Show
  • (Bonus)Recording Out-Takes

Disk 2

  • Thank God I’m Pretty
  • Dominant
  • 306
  • Gloomy Sunday
  • Asleep (Cover)
  • Mad Girl - Acoustic
  • The Art of Suicide – Acoustic
  • Thank God I’m Pretty – Shoegaze Version
  • Largo for Violin by J.S. Bach
  • Marry Me
  • Excerpt from her book ‘TAFWVG’
  • Interview with Emilie
  • Poem: How to Break a Heart
  • Poem: Miss Lucy had Some Leeches