The title says it all! Opinions expressed here are those of the authors. Personal tastes may vary, and we are cool with that.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

CD Review: Damnation Angels' - The Valiant Fire

So I get promos from various record labels as part of my work with Sonic Cathedral, and one such label is Massacre Records.  A while ago, I received a promo for this band I'd never ever heard of called Damnation Angels, who were based in the UK, but who have a familiar vocalist at the helm: PelleK, who hails from Norway.

PelleK is well known for his covers of various metal songs, Nightwish included, and he often gets a bad wrap for being "cheesy" sounding, which I happen not to agree with.  I kinda like his covers and think he's got some serious singing capability.  So when I found out he was the lead vocalist for Damnation Angels, I made sure to give the album a good listen - or many.  I do, after all, enjoy listening to the dudes of metal, I just don't have as many opportunities as Sonic Cathedral specializes in female-fronted bands.  So this was a nice treat, and it was an especially nice treat as it really sort of knocked my socks off.

The Valiant Fire dropped in Europe March 23, and it comes to North America June 23.  It contains 9 songs and over an hour of music, and the music is good.  I can't say how impressed I was with this album, which is both epic and progressive, and somewhat reminiscent of Kamelot if you had to draw any kind of comparison with a more well-known band.

The opener, "Finding Requiem" is a catchy, bombastic piece of full-on symphonic metal, and it's a great song to start of the album with as it sets up the tone and sound of the band is going for.  And it just keeps getting better.

"Icarus Syndrome", track two, continues on in a similar vein, and "This is Who We Are" is the shortest song on the album, at just over 5:30 minutes, but it's a pounding anthem of a song.  The longest song on the CD, at nearly nine and a half minutes is "The Frontiersman", starts off slowly and you might expect a long-assed ballad, but before long it's galloping along at a great clip, and then towards the end, it slows down again for an emotional ending.  It's one of the best songs on the album in terms of structure.

Another favourite of mine on The Valiant Fire is "The Passing."  The song is about a man on his death bed, taking a look back on his life, and it's a beautiful, powerful piece of music with a lovely melody and a fantastic guitar solo. PelleK pulls of slow, emotional, and sensitive as well as he pulls off the faster stuff.

All in all, I don't think there's a weak song on this album.  All of them are well-composed and very well-executed, with all the great trappings of the genre, but with a bit of progressiveness that elevates the music up a notch to another level.

The speed and musical alacrity of this band kind of blew me away.  The guitar work and the drumming are amazing, and combined with PelleK's vocals, Damnation Angels definitely have something special going on here.  The Valiant Fire is their second album, following up 2012's Bringer of Light and an EP from 2009 called Shadow Symphony.  I don't know why they are not better known, though they do have over 9000 likes on Facebook, so perhaps I've been too immersed in female-fronted stuff to notice them.

Alas, the band announced on May 19, just a few days ago, that PelleK has left the band, and auditions are currently underway to find a suitable replacement.  Interestingly, they are looking at men and women, so there could be the possibility of a female-fronted Damnation Angels in the future.

I already have a draft list of favourite albums from female fronted bands for the first half of the year, but this album, along with the latest Kamelot release, are going to be up there for my general (i.e. male vocalists included) top 10 of 2015.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

CD Review: Nightwish's Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Eric's Version)

Reigning as the world's most famous symphonic metal band, Nightwish is back at it again with another album entitled Endless Forms Most Beautiful.  The album is named after a quote used in the Charles Darwin book On the Origin of Species. Knowing this much, it is safe to say that the theme of this album will be primarily about the origins of life, evolution, and all of that fun scientific stuff that creationists hate so much!  They even got Richard Dawkins, a famous evolutionary biologist and writer, to do some voice work on the album!

Along with the release of this album, Nightwish had quite a few lineup changes that greatly affected the outcome of the final product.  On October 1st, 2012, former lead singer Anette Olzon was let go by Nightwish and was immediately replaced by metal veteran Floor Jansen for the rest of the Imaginaerum tour at that time.  Jansen was just a session vocalist when she filled in for Olzon, but the band quickly realized that she was the right person for the job.  On October 9th, 2013, Floor was named the official lead vocalist for Nightwish.  Her experience as a lead vocalist in several other bands (most notably the now defunct After Forever, and Revamp who most recently went on hiatus due to Floor being in Nightwish) gives this band that edge they have desperately needed ever since they fired vocalist Tarja Turunen ten years ago.  Her voice is impeccable and in my opinion she is the best and most versatile female vocalist in metal today.

A promotional photo of Nightwish for their new album

A few other lineup changes occurred since the last album as well.  Drummer Jukka Nevalainen was forced to sit out of the recording sessions as well as the following tour due to insomnia.  He was replaced by friend Kai Hahto from the bands of Wintersun and Swallow the Sun.  His skill at the drums are quite impressive, so Nightwish really could not have asked for a better replacement!  The other important change was the decision to make Troy Donockley a permanent member of Nightwish.  As a uilleann pipes player, Troy has been playing with the band since Dark Passion Play, bringing to life songs such as "Last of the Wilds" and "I Want My Tears Back".  Now as a permanent member of the band, Troy's presence will be even more prominent than before as he brings out the folk sounds that Nightwish always seemed to have had ever since their inception.  

With this star-studded band now in full gear, will this new album be as good as everyone had hoped? Let's find out in my track by track portion of the review:

1. "Shudder Before The Beautiful"-  At the very beginning, we get a poetic reading from Richard Dawkins himself.  After that, the symphonic elements come into full gear in a frenetic pace.  The main riff sounds like a fusion of "Storytime" and "Stargazers".  It's a bit recycled, but it works nonetheless.  The chorus is also a bit reminiscent of "Dark Chest of Wonders". Though not as compelling of a chorus as that track had, the backing choirs and the inspiring lyrics help give the chorus a much needed boost to the track.  The highlight of this track is the dueling guitar and keyboard battle just before the bridge. This is the first time I have heard Nightwish do this sort of thing since their Wishmaster album, and it sounds glorious indeed!  My biggest complaint here is that I feel like Floor's voice is mixed a bit low.  I can still hear her, but there is so much going on that it is sometimes difficult to understand everything.  However, this is more of a technical complaint and it doesn't affect the scoring of the song.  Overall, this is a very good opener to the album.  This isn't the most creative song by this band, but it's something you would expect them to produce.  (4/5)

2.  "Weak Fantasy"-  One of the heavier tracks.  The intro section of the song centers around from what sounds like a movie score, which gives way to a pretty cool main riff that you can hear if you listen closely.  The verse sections have nice sounding acoustic guitars that accompany Floor's voice well.  Unlike the previous song, Floor is able to show off more power in her voice, but it's only during the chorus.  We also get to hear Marco Hietala's voice on this track more predominately. Sadly, this is one of the few times we get to hear his voice up in the mix.  Not the best track by far, but it's good for what it is. (3.5/5)

3. "Elan"- I have already reviewed this track previously here, but I will further analyze it. "Elan" is the first single released for the album.  Like most songs in this affair, it sounds like the typical accessible and radio friendly Nightwish single, perhaps even less inspired than other tracks like "Nemo" or "Storytime".  I just don't find myself listening to this all that often personally.  It's only saving grace are the lyrics.  That is a department in Tuomas' songwriting which hasn't weakened in the slightest.  Overall, it's dull and boring and it fails to bring out the talent of the band.  The alternative version is a little better, but not by much. (2/5)

4. "Yours Is An Empty Hope"- The heaviest track on the album by far, but it is also one of the weaker tracks as well.  The main guitar sounds like a variation of "Dark Chest of Wonders" and the orchestral parts remind me of "Master Passion Greed".  We even get to hear Floor growl in the chorus!  Indeed, that was a surprise to hear!  The one thing I do like about this song is that Marco gets to sing through a good portion of it!  Sadly, his voice feels a bit wasted here because this is a forgetful song.  Overall, this is just not a very creative or inspiring track. (2.5/5)

5. "Our Decades In The Sun"- The album's only ballad.  It starts off with that children's choir that Tuomas used during the bridge in "Storytime" and that sounds rather nice here.  It's a heart-filled ballad with good lyrics but it isn't anything mind-blowing or memorable to write home to. (3/5)

6. "My Walden"- Looks like we have a successor to "I Want My Tears Back"!  Beginning with singing the chorus in Welsh by Troy, we are greeted to a very folksy sounding track with his pipes being the highlight.  The chorus will have you humming it for days!  It is so crazy catchy!  The last section of the song is where the folk instruments take over.  It almost reminds me of the way "Beauty and the Beast" from Angels Fall First ended except with folk instruments.  Indeed this is one of the stronger tracks on the album and I could see this being a possible single in the future. (4/5)

7. "Endless Forms Most Beautiful"- The title track and one of the heavier songs on the album.  I find this to be primarily a filler track with only a few highlights.  The bridge section with the choir and guitar is actually the most interesting part of the song.  Not terrible, yet not that great. (3/5)

8. "Edema Ruh"- To me, this is the best song on the album.  The keyboard intro gives off a "Come Cover Me" vibe and it also has this 80's rock feeling that is hard to describe.  I love the way the verses give off a very tranquil feeling and the chorus sounds very inspiring as well.  Troy gets to sing during the bridge right before the final chorus and it somehow feels right in place with the rest of the song.  Of all the songs on the album, I would probably go back to this one the most since this song feels the most "old school Nightwish".  This is also a potential future single as well. (4/5)

9. "Alpenglow"- This song begins with a nice orchestra/guitar riff that really sounds like it could be in an awesome movie soundtrack.  The chorus is catchy and impressive, especially toward the end of the song.  The guitar/pipes solos are interesting and really helps give this song more power.  So overall this is a good track, even though Nightwish has clearly written better.  It is still enjoyable nonetheless. (3.5/5)

10. "The Eyes of Sharbat Gula"- The instrumental track of the album.  The usage of the children's choir is very nice here, but overall I think this is a boring song with very little to offer.  It isn't "terrible", but I do not find myself coming back and listening to this one. (2.5/5)

11. "The Greatest Show On Earth"- Okay, so this is the song that we all wanted to hear for so long! Clocked in at an impressive 24 minutes, Tuomas really wanted to create his own "creation of life" epic through this song.  The name of the song is actually taken from the title of the Richard Dawkins' book, which interestingly enough Dawkins actually speaks a lot here on this track! The song is actually divided into 5 parts and from what I can hear this is how I think it got broken off into:

I: "Four Point Six"- The title of this section is based on "4.6 billion years ago" when the Earth was formed and new.  Tuomas opens this one up with some inspiring piano melodies that really fit well with the atmosphere of what he wants to bring out in his music.  Floor also gets to use her operatic vocals during this part as well.  Then we hear Richard Dawkins speak a narrative much like how we heard it in "Song of Myself", although it is not quite as long as that.  Thus, we begin with the next section of the song.

II: "Life"- The rest of the band finally kicks in with the kick drums and guitar going into a 16th note fury, which reminds me of " The Poet and The Pendulum" in some ways.  Then the verse section kicks in, with a very familiar sounding riff.... hmmm.. where have I heard this before?  Oh yes!  It's "Bye, Bye Beautiful"!  At least I am pretty sure that is what it sounds like!  The chorus then kicks in and this is the most that we hear the potential and power in Floor's voice as she is really hitting some VERY high notes with her chest voice.  Then it bridges out into a furious orchestral section that really sounds great with the drums and guitar accompanying it!  So the song winds down and what do you think we get to hear?  Do we hear a guitar solo?  Do we get more singing?  Nope!  Instead, we get to hear animal jungle sounds like monkeys and dinosaurs on a Nightwish record!  I am not kidding.  It actually goes on for a while and drags on a bit!  I never thought it would happen but it did.  But thus, life is created apparently which leads us into the next section.

III: "The Toolmaker"-  Toward the end of the jungle animal sounds, the symphony builds up again and we get what sounds like a variation of the riff from "Endless Forms Most Beautiful".  Marco sings again and it is great to hear!  So with that, we get an epic chorus where Marco and Floor sing in unison with one another.  Toward the bridge of this section, we get another break in the action, but thankfully it doesn't last too long and once again we get to listen to that epic chorus!  It then reprises with Marco and Floor singing "We were here" with a buildup of epic choirs and orchestral arrangements.  And thus this section ends with silence after that climax.

IV: "The Understanding"- This section begins with some soft piano playing by Tuomas along with accompaniments from the strings section of the orchestra and pipes being played by Troy.  Then the drums kick in and Richard Dawkins starts talking in a narrative yet again.  This time it's a bit longer than it was in "Four Point Six" and yet it still isn't nearly as dragging as it was in "Song of Myself".  Once he stops talking, the orchestra takes over and it gives off this worldly sound that's found on such movies as 2001: A Space Odyessy for example.  Then the last part of this section begins with ambient keyboard and sounds of the sea.  Then Dawkins talks for one last time right before the final section.

V: "Sea-Worn Driftwood"- The beginning of this begins with..... well... the sounds of a whale!  Yep, it ends with just sounds of the sea as if you are listening to a mood relaxing CD!  Finally, the song slowly fades out and thus we conclude this monster of a song!

I had to listen to this at least 5 times in order to truly understand everything that is going on in it.  The more I listened to it though, the more I got the structure down and the song really grew on me through each listen.  It is only in parts II and III where we actually hear the full band playing along and that is also where we get to hear Floor and Marco sing with what I think are the best written vocal parts of the album.  Is the song well made?  Absolutely!  But I think it is actually, well, too long to be brutally honest!  Some parts really needed to be shorter for the listener to really get through this beast of a track!  Nonetheless, this is very thought provoking and anybody who is into evolution or science in general really needs to listen to this song.  Also, repeating some riffs from previous tracks also loses some points on the final score here as well.  Like I said, there are great parts in this song, but it took me at least 5 listens to fully appreciate it for what it is.  This is indeed the standout track on the album and it needs to be heard a few times in order to understand everything.  (3.5/5)

Bonus Track: "Sagan":  This wasn't on the official tracklist, but I will review it anyways.  It is a pretty forgetful song with rushed lyrics throughout.  Troy has a cool solo in this but it isn't enough to help this song get out of mediocrity.  I can see why this was left out of the album.  (2.5/5)

So that is my review of Nightwish's Endless Forms Most Beautiful!  Here are my overall thoughts about this album:

-Much more band oriented than the previous two albums.
-Emppu, Tuomas, and Troy all got to shine with their respected instruments at times.
-Catchy songs and choruses.
-Great and amazing lyrics throughout.

-Most of the songs aren't using Floor's true potential in her voice.
-Some tracks seem uninspired and not very creative.
-You can hear some repeating riffs and melodies from older songs.
-The drumming could of been a little more diverse, especially with the talent behind the drum kit.
-Marco's lead vocals got used sparingly.  He was only dominant in a few songs.

So was this the masterpiece that we had hoped for from this band?  Not exactly.  I would not say that this is a "terrible" record, but this just comes across as average to me.  That's right, it's as average as it possibly can be on a Nightwish album.  I am a bit disappointed with the outcome because knowing the talent that this band now has, it just wasn't nearly as great as I had hoped for.  The previous album was actually better so this is actually a step back in my opinion.  This seemed like a very "safe" album to me with very little experimentation to be had while at the same time it brings nothing new to the table. There were also a lot of tracks that sounded like older songs and for that, there really wasn't any song on this album that really "shocked and awed" me like some of the older material did.  Let's keep in mind that this isn't a young band anymore!  Honestly, no one should expect them to make anymore masterpieces like Oceanborn or Wishmaster anytime soon, but we can only hope that day will come again!  To sum it up, Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a good symphonic metal album to add to your collection, but to call it a masterpiece is a little far-fetched.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vancouver's Celestial Ruin: Studio Update

So, how many of you out there are familiar with Xandria, ReVamp, and Epica's latest releases?  What do they all have in common?  The answer: producer Joost Van Den Broek.

Who is currently in Vancouver working with the city's premier female-fronted symphonic band, Celestial Ruin?  Answer: Joost Van Den Broek.

Celestial Ruin is in the midst of recording their new release, an EP of five tracks.  I was able to visit the band in the studio on the weekend and get a sneak peak at the production.  Greenhouse Studios has seen some big names over its various incarnations throughout the years, including Bon Jovi, Metallica, and Poison, not to mention a who's who of Canadian artists, like K.D. Lang, Brian Adams, and Nickelback.

I got a tour of the studio once the drum tracks, laid by percussionist Adam Todd, were complete, and I learned all about click tracks and punch ins, isolation booths, and some acoustical stuff.  Drums were laid first, followed by the guitar tracks, performed by Eriz Crux, and now they are in the process of recording bass parts, performed by Mike Dagenais.  Estimated completion of the recording process is this upcoming weekend.

 The songs will be killer, that you can count on.  Also, the band has just signed on with Blackstream/Universal. If you want to follow the progress of Celestial Ruin, please go to their Facebook page, where lots of updates will be, and have been, posted.  They also have a web site.

CD Review: Leah - "Kings and Queens"

Vancouver native Leah McHenry recently released her second full-length album, entitled Kings and Queens.  Leah has a lot of fans, and this album was much anticipated by them.  It was also produced by Timo Somers, the guitarist of Delain, who also did the guitar work on the album.  Released just this month, with a heavy amount of social media promo around it, Kings and Queens is sure to please fans of this musician, but as I am not a fan, I am not impressed.

Since this is a blog and not a publication I need to have any modicum of journalistic integrity around, I will fully admit that I am biased against Leah because she has fucked with friends of mine in the local music community and as a result has a bad reputation.  I will not support her by buying her album, and I didn't even bother to illegally download a torrent of it - I just listened to what was available of it on YouTube.

Timo Somers, on the other hand, is a musician I have a lot of respect for and quite like.  I even got to meet him last Sept. and he was gracious enough to have a photograph taken with me, which I really appreciated.  I am not sure how much production experience he has, but he did obviously put his all into the production of this album.  The overall sound is bombastic, dramatic, heavier, and much more complex than what Leah has produced before.  Also, Timo is a killer guitarist, and that shows very well on Kings and Queens.

My main issues with this album are twofold.  For one, although there is no denying that Leah has a gorgeous voice - even I love it - she lacks technique and projection, and to be honest, range.  I thought she had more range on her previous release, the EP Otherworld. Though beautiful to listen to, her vox turns monotonous after listening to a few songs because she doesn't use the full extent of her range.  And she has very little technique that makes her voice stand out or sound interesting.  Anette Olzon has more technique from what my admittedly uneducated ear can gather when comparing these two womens' styles.

The other issue this album has, again to my untrained ear, is the mix.  There are some songs in which the vocals are very overwhelmed by the music, especially the bass and the drums.  Some songs are just messy with a confusion of competing instruments that create a chaotic listening experience.  "This Present Darkness" is probably the best example; it luckily it has a lyric video, otherwise I wouldn't have understood much of what Leah was singing in it.  By the way, it also has a lot of awkward words in it that sound really off because, kinda like Alanis Morissette, she is trying to fit difficult words into a difficult vocal line, therefore putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable of the word, which is weird.  I'm used to hearing this from bands whose first language is not English - they don't know any better, of course.  In general, too, I found this to be a very "wordy" album, and again, "This Present Darkenss" is a very long & repetitive song that could have used some editing of the lyrics to shorten it down a bit.

The bonus track, "Siúil a Rún", is the only track on the album I can honestly say I loved.  That's probably because I've heard it before as it is a traditional Irish tune that's been performed by all kinds of people.  I recognized it as a song Clannad had covered years ago; I love Clannad.  There are two versions of this song on Kings and Queens, one acoustic and one rock.  Both versions are very nice and I liked them both. Also, Leah does use a bit more of her range in the acoustic version, which was a huge plus.

I think that's about all I can say about this album without agitating myself further.  BTW, what is going on on the album cover?!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nightwish- Élan Song Review

So yeah, I haven't posted anything in a while, but since this new single has been released by the one and only Nightwish, I figured that this needed to be done!

So about the new single.  Well, how can I put this.  To sum it up, it's bland and boring to be brutally honest.  Floor Jansen never ceases to amaze me with her talented voice, but I feel that she is underutilized in this song.  However, that isn't the only thing that is wrong with this song.  The instrumental section is generic and uninspired for the most part, the song structure is predictable and plain, and Emppu's rhythm guitar section is barely audible in the music.

Everything in this song feels forced and mundane to me, and this isn't something I expect out of Nightwish at all.  It lacks that depth Nightwish songs typically have.  Even songs like "The Crow, The Dove, And The Owl" and "Amaranth" though poppish and typical still each had a nice hook to those tunes that made those songs more memorable. This felt completely uninspired and lackluster.  I hope this isn't a sign of things slowing down for this band.  As some may know, I actually enjoyed the last album very much, even with Anette singing the songs.  Now that they have Troy Donockley as a full time member, the great Kai Hahto (Wintersun, Swallow the Sun) filling in for them in Jukka's absence at drums, and of course Floor Jansen at vocals, I expected a better single out of this group.  It is just a mediocre song altogether.

Let's hope the rest of the album is better.  There is going to be a 24 minute long song on the new Nightwish album Endless Forms Most Beautiful entitled "The Greatest Show on Earth".  That should be fairly interesting.  I expect that there will be better songs to come, or so I hope that is the case!  I will be reviewing this album as soon as it comes out.  The new Nightwish album will be released on March 27th in Europe, March 30th in the UK, and March 31st in North America.

Friday, July 25, 2014

CD Review: The Quantum Enigma by Epica

The Quantum Engima Epica's sixth studio album was released on 2 May 2014. This album features new bass player Rob van der Loo, who replaced Yves Huts. So far two singles have been released "The Essence of Silence" and "Unchain Utopia".

To be honest, I have never been into Epica mainly because of Mark Jansen's grunts, screams, his overall attitude and Simone's vocals. The couple of songs I checked online, be it studio versions or live recordings, left me uninterested. But it all changed after listening to The Quantum Enigma. The album might be catchy, but still it maintains quite heavy sound.

The opening track "Origiem" is instrumental song with only singing choir provides listener with a great taste of what's coming next. The powerful choir and orchestra work perfect along the rest of the band on every song. I always have the feeling that, the orchestra and choir give the extra spice to the songs and don't overshadow them.  Another thing I like about The Quantum Enigma is the unpredictability of songs' structures in e.g. "Omen" or "Unchain Utopia". Just because some songs begin with blast, it doesn't mean, that there won't be some twist coming a bit later on and vice versa. Even though Mark's grunts are present on almost all of the songs I find them not so "disturbing" as I expected them to be. And because in my opinion Mark's grunts are used quite sensibly and in places where the songs only benefit from them, I don't find the grunts annoying at all. And I say this as a person, who usually avoid songs with grunts, screams and other  "acrobatic vocal performances".

My favourite songs are "Omen", "The Second Stone" and bonus track "In All Conscience", which is not only my very favourite song of the album, but I consider it to be one of my all time favourite songs. The lyrics, the music and the powerful chorus is what makes this song to stand out for me. So "In All Conscience" I can honestly say, that The Quantum Enigma sparked an interest in Epica in me.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

CD Review: Shine by Anette Olzon

'Shine' is the first solo album of former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon. Although, the album was release in  March, the composing and recording of some of the songs date back to 2009. It was after DPP world tour when Anette announced, that she's working on her solo album. But due to her second pregnancy, the release of the album was postponed.
Prior to the album release, we got a tease in form of lyric video of 'Falling', followed by first single 'Lies'. Although 'Lies' and 'Falling' have rock sound, don't be fooled. 'Shine' mostly consists of ballads and slow songs. Songs that definitely let Anette 'shine' and you can tell, that this is her comfort zone.

One thing that was a big surprise and a let down for me was the fact, that five out of ten songs were already played live or shared as demos. 'Floating', 'Invincible' and 'Falling' were shared with us on Anette's Myspace page. Although in form of demos, I dare to say that very little has change since 2009 when it comes to these three songs.  Other two 'Watching Me From Afar' and 'Like A Show Inside My Head' were performed live shortly after Anette's departure from Nightwish. 'One Million Faces' was written by Martijn Spierenburg known as a keyboard player in Within Temptation.

My second complain, and this is only my personal opinion, is a lack of challenging songs. Yes, Anette sounds very good on all of the songs, but most of them are just plain, sometimes boring songs, that you know right from the beginning what you're getting. An element of surprise is missing. I personally call 'Shine' a chill out album. Nice enough but not something I would expect after so many years of 'making' it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

CD Review: The Human Contradiction by Delain

Dutch symphonic metal band Delain released their fourth studio album 'The Human Contradiction' on 4th April. According to lead singer Charlotte Wessels, who is also responsible for all the lyrics on this album, the album's title was inspired by Octavia E. Butler's science fiction trilogy 'Lillith's Brood'.

In all honesty, I never really cared for Delain. I knew they existed because of their collaboration with Marco Hietala from Nightwish, but their previous work failed to grab my attention. It wasn't until I read mostly positive reviews that I decided to give their new album a shot. To my biggest surprise, I ended up being hooked right from the very first tunes of 'Here Comes the Vultures'. And this 'being hooked' state of mine continued throughout the entire album. The songs have catchy melodies indeed, but I never felt that the 'catchiness' is forced or calculated. Again, we have the pleasure to hear Marco Hietala on two songs 'Your Body is a Battleground' and 'Sing to Me', which also belong to my favourite songs. Another two guests, George Oostheok (ex-Orphanage) and Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy, ex-The Agonist), provide growls to songs 'Tell Me, Mechanist' and  'The Tragedy of the Commons'.

After a couple of spins I can definitely say, that 'The Human Contradiction' is on my list of favourite albums of this year. I even learnt to appreciate Charlotte's vocals more than ever before. I believe it's time to give Delain another try and listen to their other three albums again.  

Tarja's new album 'Left In The Dark'

While we're waiting for Tarja's new rock album, which she is already recording, we get the chance to buy new album 'Left in the Dark'.The title of the album may sound familiar to you. Basically, we get previously unreleased material such as demos, instrumental versions, live acoustic radio recordings and B-sides from 'Colours in the Dark'.


1. Victim of Ritual (demo)
2. 500 letters (acoustic recording)
3. Lucid Dreamer (demo)
4. Never Enough (demo progression)
5. Mystique Voyage (demo)
6. Into the Sun (studio version)
7. Deliverance (instrumental)
8. Neverlight (full orchestra version)
9. Until Silence (acoustic recording)
10. Medusa (Tarja's solo version)

Neverlight - Full Orchestra Version Video

Time to come back

Just like Canuck, I will also try to update this blog more often. I'll start with my reviews of Epica's, Delain's, Anette Olzon's and Tuomas Holopainen's new albums. I know. I am way too late for the party, but still I want to do it. So bear with me, please.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Female Vocalists You Should Know About

We have all heard of Liv, and Tarja, and Floor, etc.  They require no introduction.

But there are TONS of female vocalists out there who are little known and need some cowbell.  So do the bands they front.  This series is intended to give some exposure to those female vocalists and their bands.

First up, Rute Fevereiro of Portugese Gothic metal band Enchantya.

Why you should check her out: because she's powerful and versatile, with the ability to growl with the big boys and sing in an angelic clean vox.  This girl has some range, peeps!

Enchantya's debut album, which came out in September of 2012, is entitled Dark Rising and was a really promising release by a band who've been around a while.  I reviewed the album for Sonic Cathedral, and you can read that here for more information.

In February 2013, Enchantya released a video for its song "Dark Rising".

Link love for Rute and Enchantya:

Rute's Facebook page
Enchantya on Facebook
Enchantya's web site

Time For Resurrection

I recently left Black Wind Metal as one of their writers and I think it's high time I resurrect this site.  I'm already getting some promo requests, which is nearly unheard of, but hey, why not?

So my intention is to post more frequently here.  We'll see how that plays out.  I also should change the banner...some of those album covers are WAY out of date.  Alas, the site I used to create it no longer exists, so we'll have to see what I can find to replace it.

Cheers everyone!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sabaton's New Album "Heroes" Out In May

Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton unveiled two artworks and tracklist of their new album "Heroes".
The new album will be out on 16th of May.

The album is described by the reviewers as "really well produced, arranged, energetic and melodic. Each song is different, begins with an unusual, catchy motive and gives the impression of participation on something bigger, than only another good heavy metal experience."


1. Night Witches
2. No Bullets Fly
3. Smoking Snakes
4. Inmate 4859
5. To Hell And Back
6. The Ballad of Bull
7. Resist And Bite
8. Soldier of 3 Armies
9. Far From the Fame
10. Hearts of Iron

Official Trailer

Delain's New Album Out In April

Dutch symphonic metal band Delain will release their 4th studio album "The Human Contradiction" on 7th April in Europe and 8th April in the US and Canada. The band released lyric video "Your Body is a Battleground" featuring Marco Hietala from Nightwish.


1. Here Come the Vultures
2. Your Body is a Battleground
3. Stardust
4. My Masquerade
5. Tell Me, Mechanist
6. Sing to Me
7. Army of Dolls
8. Lullaby
9. The Tragedy of the Commons

The Human Contradiction - preview

Epica's New Album Out This May

Recently, Epica announced, that their 6th studio album "The Quantum Enigma" will be released on 2nd May in Europe and on 13th May in the US. The new album is described as the beginning of a new era, where Epica sounds heavy, modern and without compromises. The creation of this album was a group effort and the band is extremely proud of the results. "The Quantum Enigma" was recorded in the Sandlane Recording Facilities in the Netherlands. The producer is Joost van den Broek and the album was mixed by the renowned Jacob Hansen.

Stefan Heilemann created the artwork to accompany the ideas behind the lyrics.

The Quantum Enigma will be released in 5 different configurations:

1. regular Jewel Case
2. 2CD Digipack - 2nd disc contains acoustic version of Canvas of Life, In All Conscience, Dreamscape and Natural Corruption
3. 3CD Earbook - 3rd disc contains instrumental version of the songs
4. double Vinyl
5. Digital Download


1. Origiem
2. The Second Stone
3. The Essence of Silence
4. Victims of Contingency
5. Sense Without Sanity - The Impervious Code
6. Unchain Utopia
7. The Fifth Guardian - Interlude
8. Chemical Insomnia
9. Reverence - Living in the Heart
10. Omen - The Ghoulish Malady
11. Canvas of Life
12. Natural Corruption
13. The Quantum Enigma - Kingdom of Heaven part II

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tuomas Holopainen's solo project out in April

Tuomas Holopainen's first solo project "The Life And Times Of Scrooge" will be released on 11th April. The whole album is based on a graphic novel called "The Life And Times Of Scrooge McDuck" written and illustrated by Don Rosa. Tuomas spent most of the year 2013 writing and producing this solo album.
The recordings took place during August - October 2013. The orchestra was recorded at Angel Studios in London. Pip Williams, who's known for his work on NW's albums "Once", "Dark Passion Play" and "Imaginaerum", did the orchestral arrangements.

Among the guest musicians are vocalists Alan Reid, Johanna Kurkela, Johanna Iivanainen and Tonny Kakko.

The author of the book, Don Rosa, did the artwork for the album.


01. Glasgow 1877
02. Into The West
03. Duel & Cloudscapes
04. Dreamtime
05. Cold Heart Of The Klondike
06. The Last Sled
07. Goodbye, Papa
08. To Be Rich
09. A Lifetime Of Adventure
10. Go Slowly Now, Sands Of Time

Bonus track
11. A Lifetime Of Adventure (alternative version)

As a single for this album was chosen "A Lifetime Of Adventure" accompanied with "making of" video. Johanna Kurkela provides lead vocals and Johanna Iivanainen provides backing vocals.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Come Cover Me: Australia's Chaos Divine Covers Toto's "Africa"

Just found out about this band from Perth, western Australia, tonight on Facebook.  A friend posted this cover they did of Toto's "Africa", a song I have loved since I was in like grade 3.

Check it out:

Chaos Divine has some great stuff, I have to say; I was really impressed by the few tracks that I heard.  You can find out more about them on their Facebook page here.

Here is Toto's original:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Within Temptation's new album Hydra

Within Temptation will release their 6th studio album 'Hydra' on January 31st, 2014. This is what the band
has to say about the album: The Hydra, a mythological serpent creature from ancient Greece couldn't be killed. When one of its heads was cut off, two more grew in its place. Commented by Robert Westerholt: "Hydra is a perfect title for our new album, because like the monster itself, the record represents the many different sides of our music."

We will also get the chance to listen to several guest musicians such as Tarja Turunen, Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum, Howard Jones formerly of Killswitch Engage and US hip-hop icon Xzibit.


1. Let Us Burn
2. Dangerous feat. Howard Jones
3. And We Run feat. Xzibit
4. Paradise (What About Us?) feat. Tarja
5. Edge Of The World
6. Silver Moonlight
7. Covered By Roses
8. Dogs Days
9. Tell My Why
10. Whole World Is Watching feat. Dave Pirner
11. Radioactive (originally performed by Imagine Dragons) (BONUS TRACK)
12. Summertime Sadness (originally performed by Lana del Ray) (BONUS TRACK)
13. Let Her Go (originally performed by Passenger) (BONUS TRACK)
14. Dirty Dancer (originally performed by Enrique Iglesias) (BONUS TRACK)
15. And We Run - evolution track (BONUS TRACK)
16. Silver Moonlight - evolution track (BONUS TRACK)
17. Covered By Roses - evolution track (BONUS TRACK)
18 Tell My Why - evolution track (BONUS TRACK)
19. Paradise (What About Us?) feat. Tarja  - Music Video exclusive to iTunes premium version

Track 1-10 new album tracks of Hydra
Track 11-19 bonus tracks iTunes premium version

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Come Cover Me: Elvenking Does Belinda Carlisle...?

And now for something completely different.  Thanks to one of my colleagues at Black Wind Metal, I just found this very...interesting cover of Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven is a Place on Earth" done by power metal outfit, Elvenking.

Who says you can't take an 80s pop song into a piece of power metal?

Elvenking hails from Italy.  Check out their FB page here.

Here is Belinda Carlisle's original:

Here is Elvenking's version:

What do you think?  I'm a little stunned...

Friday, October 18, 2013

MaYaN's new album Antagonise out in January

Dutch symphonic death metal band MaYaN will release their second album "Antagonise" on January 31st, 2014. The album contains 11 songs and features guest musicians Floor Jansen (Nightwish, ReVamp, After Forever), Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion) and Greek violinist Dimitris Katsoulis.

According to the press release, the main album's concept is based on "the current state of the world which is going totally insane".

Touring members Henning Basse (Lingua Mortis Orchestra) and Laura Macri became permanent members back in September.