EP Review: Elias – “Universal Truth”

It would be impossible for anyone to imagine the visceral joy I felt in my soul when Elias graced our wrestling airways and announced that he was ready to, once more, change the lives of anyone with functioning ear canals by announcing that he was releasing a brand new EP.  This one is entitled “Universal Truth”.

As I hurried to Apple Music to get my first taste of what was sure to be an existence-altering listening session, I pondered what my life might be like after I heard it.  Would I be plunged headlong into a bottomless pit of self-loathing – keenly aware of my own shortcomings as never before?  Would I become a better human being – keenly aware of my own foibles but committed to doing all that is necessary to change them?  Would I be able to finally be able to fully understand why Elias wets his hair prior to coming out to the ring?  I couldn’t know.  All I knew is that I was in for…

Okay, let’s get serious here.  On to the album:

So I began my intrepid exploration into this – the second world of Elias.  The first thing to note is that things have changed drastically in Elias’ musical world.  Of course, given that he is an employee (yeah, I said it) of WWE, he works entirely with WWE’s musical entities.  On his first record, that meant collaborating with John Alicastro and Michael Lauri – better known as the now-disbanded CFO$ or Kromestatik.  This album features WWE’s new music mavens – Def Rebel, a four-piece Rock band that actually played live for Elias two weeks ago when he previewed the album.  They’ve been at work doing new themes for Bayley and others as well.  For The first track, “Amen (I’m Going In)”, is a slow rocker with a declarative Elias determined to “go in” on life.  It’s a nice message and blown up nice and big.

“Street Light” is kind of an “I see the promise land after having been in darkness for a long time”-kinda thing.  It’s actually got a nice hook and the drummer nails here.  I could do without the silly backgrounds but this one really works, actually.

“Lead Me Home” is about his desire to get to the place he wants to be.  Odd sequencing here as “Street Light” likely should have been switched with this one.  This one kicks nicely and Elias sounds decent here (I’ll get to his voice shortly).

“Amazing Grace” is “House of the Rising Sun” with the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” superimposed on it.  Odd choice but I guess I don’t hate it.  This is the one that features a drum machine to get those really hard snare sounds that don’t exist outside of a drum machine.  Elias is absolutely screaming his head off in the choruses.  That could not have been easy.

Okay, now for the major misstep.  Def Rebel’s worst choice on this album was to add Autotune to Elias’ vocals.  It’s set pretty high and it’s just the worst.  Even the female background vocals are dripping in it.  I hate that plugin with all my heart and I’m horrified to find it here.  It was in use on “Walk with Elias” but it was used so sparingly, it didn’t bother me.  The Autotune is really heavy here and that’s proof that novice hands were involved.  It’s particularly problematic on the ballad, “Street Light”.  You can really hear it correcting his pitch to make it perfect.  It’s particularly painful during the quiet parts of songs – especially the aforementioned “Street Light”.  He’s not T-Pain but it’s closer to him than it should be.  Worst of all is that he doesn’t really need it.  Is he pitch perfect when he sings?  No, but that’s part of his charm.  He doesn’t have to be.  Even if you want more perfection than he’s giving, just have him do another take until he gets it?  Why is that so hard nowadays?  Autotune is just so lazy and it’s utterly detectable.  Now that I’ve said it, I’m sure that most who read this won’t be able to un-hear it.  I apologize to you in advance.  Welcome to my nightmare.

In short, this is a fun little thing.  It’s just barely an EP – clocking in at a paltry 11 minutes in total.  Still, the whole thing is designed to get his character over even more and to that end, it works very well.  They’re restarting on the character and giving him more musical product is a great way to do that.

On the night of release, the album debuted at #2 on the iTunes Soundtrack charts and climbed to #1 while “Raw” was on the air – proof of Raw’s reach into other places besides just its own show.  I couldn’t be happier.  See you next time for another dive into the “Majesty of Music”.