The cocky, arrogant, guitar playing 'drifter' known as Elias along with WWE Music Group has released a 14 minute EP consisting of 4 songs produced the CFO$ entitled "WWE: Walk With Elias". It is now available on iTunes for an affordable $2.99.
Hello and welcome to Planet Kayfabe where on this edition I will be reviewing Elias' debut EP (extended play, kids) "Walk With Elias". The album is set in character as you'd imagine and probably expect, so I understand the tongue-in-cheek nature of such a release. So, don't expect this release to be picked apart note-by-note with a fine toothed comb. I'll run down each song giving my thoughts for each track, of course. However I'll mainly judge this based on how well the Elias character comes off and if this release is worth your money or just a few laughs. Let's get started.
First I want to talk about this cover. It is not a great cover. It is a standard WWE shot of Elias with wet wrestler hair and his old guitar slung over his shoulder. There's a blue-ish hue and a night sky motif happening. It looks very generic. It looks like Adam Lambert's "For Your Entertainment" with Elias' image PhotoShopped over it. When I think of Elias, I don't think of outer space like he's f***ing Ace Frehley. I know in this digital age album art is somewhat of a lost art, but how difficult would it have been that while they were filming his concert during WrestleMania week or find some remote, quiet location where Elias can post with his guitar over a vast landscape. That's what comes to mind when I think of the "drifter" as a traveling songwriter. The art should also represent the music as well. For example, if I were to show you the cover of a Slayer album, a RUN-DMC album and a Charlie Daniels album you'd probably have a good idea which genre each was just by looking at it. Here? They got lazy.
Track 1: ""The Ballad of Every Town I've Ever Been To..." Time; 3:43
The album starts off exactly how it should with that familiar E minor chord that begins every Elias promo. The song is basically the full song version of an Elias promo. It's a little corny, but fun. I don't mind corny when done right. The lyrics are fine. The falsetto is a bit corny as well, but again he's in his heel character. It's not great, but not too bad. I never laughed and the material is pretty much lines you'd hear in a generic heel promo. This town sucks, that town sucks. The people here are ignorant. The people there are fat and stupid. Yeah, it's a pretty PG album as well, so it goes without saying that there's no parental advisory disclaimer here. I enjoyed this opening track, though and like I said earlier it was the right choice to begin the album. The music is Elias and his guitar, again just like his promos, in the key of E minor like most of his promos and at a similar pace and feel. So, if you love Elias promos, here's one for every town in America. I enjoyed it.
Track 2: "Elias' Words" Time; 2:52
The music picks up a little bit on the second song called "Elias' Words". This is the shortest song on the album, but also the toughest to get through for me. Again it is Elias and his guitar, just like a promo and the lyrics read like a promo. It's too bad the CFO$ aren't great promo writers. Again it was more of your generic heel spit only with a strumming guitar behind it. Elias is such a good character and he deserves better than some of these lines that really could have been written for any heel in wrestling. A lot of the rhymes are just too slanted and the syllables don't really flow at certain points.
"A man comes up to me and he says he used to play guitar back in his day / I said "Sir, can you please quiet down? You're in my way"
Uhh... Burn? The music is fine. Your pretty standard upbeat strum. The lyrics, however, are really lacking especially in this track and is devoid of any charm the opener had in my opinion. Again, with a tongue-in-cheek release like this I'm not expecting the complexity of Rush or the deep, insightful, smart lyrics of Warren Zevon, but you need to give me more than the same exact type of material I hear every week on Raw. There's no time restraint. There's no sponsors you need to worry about pissing off. Go nuts. I'm not saying it needs to be a profanity driven 4 song burial, but you have this opportunity to do something different beyond the standard shit WWE writes on Raw anyway... why not take it?
Track 3: "Nothing I Can't Do" Time; 4:38
This song is a slower piano tune, again just Elias and an instrument only instead of his trademark guitar there's a piano instead. I liked this one. I thought the fourth wall break in the lyrics "I even wrote this song on a piano just for you/ Yeah, I wrote this just for you/ There's nothing I can't do" was clever and got a decent chuckle out of me the first time I heard it and instantly this song had more distinct Elias character than the last song did which could have been sang by any generic heel in wrestling today. The false ending where the tune resolves and breaks with Elias saying "Bet you thought this song was over/ well, its not over yet" was also entertaining. The old "what it needs is what I am" line he used in NXT is also referenced.
On a musical perspective I thought this song had the best vocal performance by Elias. Otherwise it's pretty straight-forward. Elias even busts out a cool little solo at the end. I mean it's not Billy Joel or Elton John but... it's cool. A nice little lick to end the tune on
Track 4: "Walk With Me" Time; 3:17
The EP closes out with the (kinda) title track "Walk With Me". In a vacuum I enjoyed this song. It's fine, but not as good as the others. Once again Elias breaks the fourth wall by referencing the very song he is writing, so in true WWE fashion they took a good thing and killed it. There's a cool electric guitar solo over Elias' trademark acoustic chords, but to me this solo acted as a reminder of what could have been. If this entire EP was just going to be Elias singing over a single instrument, then fine. Let it be that. Don't suddenly throw me a song at the end that introduces me to another layer without even going all out with it.
What do I mean by that? If they were going to add a guitar solo over Elias' chords, why not have a full band? Even if its just for one song? Instead it almost came off as a glorified bedroom demo without a drummer and bass player available to fill in the songs.
Closing thoughts. WWE: Walk With Elias wont cost you much on iTunes and is also available on Spotify, so I recommend it if you're a WWE fan. The run time in total is an even 14 minutes which I think was perfect. If there was a 5th song of Elias just strumming another 4 chord tune running down the listener doing the same song all over again I would have turned it off. Luckily, this album knew when to go home and it does so without wasting the listener's time. Musically, there's not much to be desired, but again as I noted at the start of this review this isn't a traditional album. It's a kayfabe wrestling album where a guy is in character. It's more about making that character pop out of the songs to the listener than it is to have memorable melodies and toe-tapping choruses. However instead of always going for the obvious gag, I wish there was more subtle humor and winks and nods instead of every line being beaten over your head that this guy is a wrestling villain.
The first track was my favorite, but if not for the piano tune in track 3 it would feel like every song was the same song looped over with a similar feel and theme. It's almost as if WWE had this idea for an album and just went with it before they had any material so they just threw some chords together and pasted a few Elias promos as lyrics and stuck him in a studio for a couple hours to record it. I would have liked it if they went bigger. Again, this should be a big deal. It's Elias' debut album and it's the same shit we hear on Raw. As noted I wasn't going into this expecting this release to make me forget about my Neil Young albums. I was hoping for a little more. When WWE did "With My Baby Tonight" they wrote a legit country song with a full band and backup singers. It was corny, but like I said, I don't mind corny when done right. To me, the only song on this release that should have been just Elias with his guitar is the first song. After that just have a f***ing blast. Give me a reason to want more. Not just more material, but give me a reason to listen to this more than once. If he announces a full-length LP I hope WWE does more than just have the same song track after track for 50 minutes instead of 14.
I give this album a mild recommendation, though. It is cheap if you want to buy it and it's also on Spotify and YouTube. Even if you're a hardcore fan of Elias, I'd be shocked if you're still playing these songs a week from now. I'm only recommending it as a wrestling fan, but even still I would suggest that you just listen to the opening track because that will give you a good idea of what the rest of the album is going to be. For a casual music fan, I would not recommend this. I think WWE went a little too cheap. I would have liked the songs, other than the opener, to be played with a full band, maybe even add a harmony vocal to aid Elias through the songs. Shit, have a surprise appearance by Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas to lay down a harmonica solo. That would have been hilarious. Instead there's little imagination and not much offered beyond what you have already heard on Raw every week. In that regard I was left a little disappointed, but I can't complain too much. I heard the album for free on Spotify. Also, at 14 minutes it wasn't a waste of time. Its worth your listen and forming your own opinion, but to me it was just fine and at time a little underwhelming and lacking any subtle bite to really make me want to keep listening. I feel like because the content is so bold and beaten over your head you "get it" after one listen. If the WWE decides to offer a follow-up to this release, hopefully they go big, otherwise they might as well have Elias do a collaboration with U2 if they're going to have him do the same song over and over again on a full length release.
Thanks for reading everyone. I'm a fan of the Elias character as I'm sure many of you reading this are, but I was a bit of a let down. The opening track was enough to get their point across. If it was a one-off single like Zack Ryder's "Hoeski" or some of the other wrestlers who have recorded a song here and there it would have been fine but instead we got 4 musical versions of Elias promos that for the most part I find more entertaining on TV. Ya know what Elias doesn't have on TV? A full band. Another reason to offer something different here. I'm trying not to take this release too seriously. It is what it is. A fun little thing WWE put out. I just wish it was better and they had a little more fun with it themselves instead of just releasing what sounds like a quick demo any of you could have recorded on your MacBook.
For NoDQ, this is Planet Kayfabe. I'm KC. Have a great week and I'll see you here next time.