Eltharia is a 5-piece Power Metal/Progressive Metal band from France. Their sound is an eclectic mix of metal sub-genres that is sure to keep any metal fan's attention throughout their second record, entitled "Innocent."

The album kicks off with "Third World War," which immediately sounds like your standard Power Metal flare: a twin guitar lead backed by a speedy 6/8 drum beat, soaring vocals, and a wash of synth. However, they quickly move into some sounds and textures that remind me of heavier Dream Theater stuff. I noticed throughout the album, Eltharia seem to meld their influences quite well and never stick to one sound for too long. This was one of my favorite things about this record: the replay value. There's soaring melodies, more memorable riffs and harmonies than I could count, and even an awesome keyboard solo in the title track. I really enjoyed the more progressive, heavier side to this band. Some stand-out tracks in this vein are "Spite Still Remains" or "My Own Justice." In my opinion, "Spite Still Remains" wouldn't feel too out of place on Dream Theater's “Awake” record. This is a big compliment, as that is one of my favorite Dream Theater records (it’s not always considered a fan-favorite, so I can see how some might interpret this compliment as not a compliment at all).

The band expands their dynamic range further on "Would I Remember You," a ballad with a tragic story. "Sweet Madness" follows in a similar vein with a dark but hauntingly beautiful composition, although this one is completely instrumental.

Overall, this is a really solid album. The performance given by all the band members is great. You have to have an extremely talented and melodic vocalist with a good range to do this type of music, and Eltharia certainly does. Their vocalist even does some growls and more aggressive techniques to keep up with their heavier songs. The melodies and harmonies he chooses fit the songs well. The guitar parts are impressive, and although at times the solos got a little repetitive to listen to, overall I enjoyed them. I would've liked the bass and drums mixed higher, but from what I could hear they also gave a top-notch performance. The keyboards/synths add a great layer of atmosphere and never over-power the rest of the band. That said, the lyrics were the weakest point on this album. I'm sure English isn't the band's first language-but when you decide to write lyrics in English, it makes it harder for the listener to connect to the music when the lyrics don't make sense. An example from "Third World War:" We were afraid of the German’s attack/But happily they died to save the world/But today they don’t remember the past/And it is their turn to be the world’s threat." Minus the lyrical stumbles here and there, I did enjoy this album. If you're a fan of Power Metal and/or Progressive stuff, you should give this album a spin. I’m looking forward to Eltharia’s next release because if they can improve upon these few setbacks, they’ll have a remarkable album on their hands.