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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CD Review: Tarot's "Gravity of Light"

Once again, Finland's traditional styled heavy metal band Tarot has got another album ready to kick off the new decade. Entitled "Gravity of Light", this release is Tarot's eighth studio album. It has been a long four year hiatus since their last album "Crows Fly Black". So was it worth the wait?

Well let me start off by saying that this album is everything every metal head wants; loud, powerful, aggressive music that will send your ass flying into next year. Like their previous albums, Tarot has kept the metal real and good, and that says a lot coming from a band who has been around for over 25 years! Their consistency is amazing, and I give them credit because most bands don't seem to want to push out the same amount of quality on every release like Tarot does! It really shows the kind of greatest Tarot is. (for more, see my main Tarot article)
So for my first review on this blog, I decided to do a song by song review for "Gravity of Light" using a best of 5 rating:

The ratings go as follows:

0- abomination (reserved for crap music)
1- awful
2- poor
3- average
4- good
5- awesome
6- a classic (this is a rare one)
Note: The rating system is out of 5, but sometimes I rate songs a zero or a six, depending on the song.

1. Satan Is Dead- From the opening riff to the end, this is everything we expect out of Tarot; real, kick ass heavy metal! This will not disappoint any metal lover. 4/5

2. Hell Knows- A moody, slowed riffed song that doom metal fans will eat up. 4/5

3. Rise- Catchy and fun is written all over this metal number. A great chorus in this song as well. 4/5

4. Pilot of All Dreams- The fastest paced song on the album. This song reminds me of "From the Shadows" on Tarot's "Suffer Our Pleasures" album and is guaranteed not to disappoint. 4/5

5. Magic and Technology- The opening riff is good, but I feel that it is a tad too long in the intro. Despite that, it is a good "90's" feel song. 3/5

6. Calling Down the Rain- The song is catchy, but to me, it doesn't flow as well as the other songs. Tommi does most of the singing here. 3/5

7. I Walk Forever- A nice groovy, opening riff that features a good chorus and something you can chant with. Not the best song on the album, but it works and delivers. 3/5

8. Sleep In The Dark- For me, this is the best song on the album. The riffs are crushing and brutal while Tommi and Marco give out their best vocal performances on the album. Typical Tarot greatness. 5/5

9. Caught In The Deadlights- This is just an okay song, but nothing more. 3/5

10. Gone- The album's ballad. It is very progressive flowing and features one of the most meaningful vocal performances Marco has to offer. 5/5

So, is this Tarot's best album? No. But I think it is a worthy Tarot album and this proves that Tarot isn't even close to stopping their assault in the world of metal. They still a lot left in the tank as they continue to please their fans with quality 100% heavy metal.


-Typical Tarot quality, nothing more, nothing less
-Some very meaningful choruses and songs
-Great riffs
-Catchy songs


-Production isn't as good or as powerful as their last two albums
-Not the best vocal performance from Marco as we have seen in years past (still very good though)
-Marco sings much less here than on previous albums (which means more parts for Tommi)
-Some very average songs (but no bad songs)

I give this album a horns up (\m/). It may not be the best Tarot CD, but it still pleases the typical metal listener. What a great way to start the decade Tarot! ROCK ON! \m/

3.5/5 overall

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 02: Least Favourite Song

I know I am in the minority here, but I am not a fan of After Forever, and I am not super keen on Floor Jansen's voice. This isn't to say I don't respect their talents & abilities as musicians - I do, and I can see that they have considerable amounts of these things - it's just a personal taste thing.

A while back, my cohort here, Eric, challenged me to listen to all of After Forever's discography, and I did this. It didn't improve my feelings towards them at all. The album I liked least was Invisible Circles, a concept album about a married couple whose relationship is on the rocks and who have a child caught in the middle. Once in a while during this CD, there are these melodramatic excerpts of fights between this married couple, featuring a sneery image-minded man and a desperate, whinging female. These little scenes add a cheesiness to this album it did not need. Here is one I can safely categorize in my "least favourite songs" list, "Between Love and Fire."

Monday, March 29, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge: Heavy Metal Version; Day 01

One blogger I read regularly is Cal of Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool. Lately he has been running a meme called the 30 Day Music Challenge, and I thought I'd take up the challenge & do a heavy metal version.

Here is the entire list:

Day 01 - Your favorite song
Day 02 - Your least favorite song
Day 03 - A song that makes you happy
Day 04 - A song that makes you sad
Day 05 - A song that reminds you of someone
Day 06 - A song that reminds of you of somewhere
Day 07 - A song that reminds you of a certain event
Day 08 - A song that you know all the words to
Day 09 - A song that you can dance to
Day 10 - A song that makes you fall asleep
Day 11 - A song from your favorite band
Day 12 - A song from a band you hate
Day 13 - A song that is a guilty pleasure
Day 14 - A song that no one would expect you to love
Day 15 - A song that describes you
Day 16 - A song that you used to love but now hate
Day 17 - A song that you hear often on the radio
Day 18 - A song that you wish you heard on the radio
Day 19 - A song from your favorite album
Day 20 - A song that you listen to when you’re angry
Day 21 - A song that you listen to when you’re happy
Day 22 - A song that you listen to when you’re sad
Day 23 - A song that you want to play at your wedding
Day 24 - A song that you want to play at your funeral
Day 25 - A song that makes you laugh
Day 26 - A song that you can play on an instrument
Day 27 - A song that you wish you could play
Day 28 - A song that makes you feel guilty
Day 29 - A song from your childhood
Day 30 - Your favorite song at this time last year

All righty, Day 01 is your favourite song. Already I am feeling challenged beyond hope because I cannot name just one song. According to, my most played song is Dawn of Destiny's Lost, which there isn't a clip of on YouTube. So, number two on that list is actually, DoD's "Lost." There is a clip for that, using some uninspired video game footage.

Number three on that list is "Tilsim" by the Turkish band, Almora. I never get sick of this song!

The third song I'll stick on this list (I don't care if it's considered cheating to name three songs) is probably my favourite metal song ever: "Ghost Love Score", by Nightwish. There is no official video for this 10 minute long tour-de-force, but here is the End of an Era version, which always brings a tear to my eye. This was the last time this song was ever performed properly, IMO, and I think that is fucking sad.

What about you? What would you put on this list?

Monday, March 22, 2010

CD Review: Atargatis's "Wasteland"

Allow me to preface this review by saying that I have never done a real CD review before. In one of my other lives, I am a book reviewer and also have a degree in creative writing, so when I review a book, I can be pretty specific with my critiques and the language I use to express my feelings about writing. Similarly, I am a trained baker/pastry chef, so when I go to a bakery or a restaurant, I can be just as specific in how I describe food, baking, and desserts. I am not a musician; I don't know all the lingo and I don't know how to pick apart a piece of music on a technical level. Music for me is primarily emotional; I can talk about how something makes me feel, but I can't talk about chord progressions and techniques. My CD reviews here will be based on what I know and can describe: emotional impact, complexity, lyrics, resonance, and how it sounds to my untrained ear.

So, my inaugural review here is of a little-known band from Germany called Atargatis. I discovered them on when I heard the track "Angels Crying" playing on some band's station (I can't remember which one). It really stood out for me because of the unique tonality of singer Stephanie Luzie's voice, the heavy riffing, and the complexity of the song. I thought it was so beautiful, and I wanted more. After listening to all the songs on the Wasteland album on YouTube, and several from its follow-up, Nova, I found the CD on Sonic Cathedral and ordered it. I am now officially addicted to it, and am soon going to put an order into Amazon that will include Nova (it's not available on Sonic Cathedral).

Wasteland is a concept album with a fairly heavy-handed environmental theme. Opening with an ominous instrumental intro entitled "Desert," it moves on to the title track, which describes a futuristic earth as a desert wasteland, destroyed by man, devoid of water, and inhabited by "wretched creatures" who were once known as men. It's an impressive first track because it is not only lyrically powerful ("Dried up earth and only fruitless soil/Every look you take shows that they have lost control") but the full power of this band's sound smacks you upside the head from the very beginning. Luzie's voice, the heaviness of the guitars, and a haunting violin melody make this song so memorable. Following it is a song about the power of the moon, but it's the third track that always chokes me up. In an album about the power of the earth and man's relationship with it, "Thy Crystallic Ascension" is a very personal song about someone related to the band who died in the south Asian tsunami of 2004. This again is a heavy, powerful song, showing off Luzie's range, and features another mournful violin solo that always sends chills up my spine.

I claimed this was a concept album, and I stand by that. As the CD progresses, we see a healing of the earth and man's relationship with it, echoed in the album art, which starts out with pictures of a desert wasteland, cracked & parched as described in the title track, and becoming more verdant and lush. The counterpoint starts with "Cradle of Fern," a song about a baby that brings man back in touch with nature - and water. Turn the page in the booklet, and we see waterfalls. The next song involves mists. Redemption, forgiveness, and rejuvenation follow.

The tracks "My Solace" and "Circle of Life" represent the weakest elements of Wasteland. These songs are not as strong, and "Circle of Life" in particular has an annoying intro, a kind of cliche concept, and it digresses into some Greek mythology that seems a bit out of place given the rest of the lyrical themes on the CD.

Ending with "Angels Crying," Atargatis leaves the listener with a warning: "don't do this again," basically. Following this, still my favourite track on the album, there is an outro featuring the sounds of thunder and rain, birds and insects, and the much longed-for rush of water so desperately missing at the beginning of the story arc.

Take a listen to "Angel's Crying":

Apart from the two weaker songs I mentioned, the only other down side to this CD is the male vocal, that appears from time to time, trying to sound way more bad-ass than it really is. It's not really a growl, but it's not clean, either, and I think the album could have been improved had they left it out altogether.

I do love this CD and am very much looking forward to getting Nova in my hands.

I don't have a rating scheme the way Metal Archives does, and when I review books, they fall into either "recommended & worthy of space on your bookshelf" or "not recommended so don't waste your time." I am uncomfortable assigning number values to things like books and music (I do rate movies on a scale from 1 - 10, however). Perhaps I shall just give CDs I review a simple horns up (\m/) if I like it, and Atargatis's Wasteland definitely gets a huge horns up from me.

Underrated Metal Bands #1: Tarot

Okay, this marks my first entry in a series in which I discuss metal bands that do not get the recognition they deserve and bands that need to be known. And no other band deserves this than the Finnish heavy metal band Tarot.

Tarot has been around for quite some time dating back to the early 80s, then being called "Purgatory". They were formed by Zachary (guitars) and Marco Hietala (vocals and bass), who are still currently in the band. Eventually, the band changed their name to Tarot because the record label wanted them to change their name for some unknown reason.
Tarot plays traditional heavy metal music following to the likes of Iron Maiden, Dio, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and so forth. Since their beginnings, they have always stuck to this style despite the changing of musical trends in the early 90's and have never seriously altered their style over the years. Eventually, they would pick up on some of the modern power metal elements of today. Even so, you know it's Tarot as soon as you hear their explosive riffing and Marco's excellent voice.

Speaking of Marco, he is perhaps the most underrated vocalist metal has to offer! How this man NEVER gets talked about is beyond me! He takes the influence of metal legends like Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio and from that is able to create his own unique and distinctive metal voice. He also has great bass sound and his skills are good in that respect too! Marco also sings and performs in many other bands/projects as well such as Nightwish, ex-Sinergy, Northern Kings, and so on. The man not only has a set of godly pipes, but is able to perform in multiple bands too. A very talented person indeed!

His brother, Zachery, is another person worth mentioning. His guitar skills are very underrated and undermined too. While not the most technical guitarist ever, he still is able to pull off some creative sounds on his guitar and some very excellent sounding leads! He also plays guitar in the Finnish symphonic metal band, Marenne.

Janne Tolsa is the keyboardist for Tarot who first appeared on their third album, "To Live Forever". While replacing their other guitarist, Mako, Janne brought a new sound to Tarot and with this gave them more distinctiveness as a group. He also plays keyboard for the Finnish symphonic death metal band Eternal Tears of Sorrow and for symphonic metal band Marenne with fellow band mate Zachary Hietala.

Their sampler/vocalist Tommi Salmela also has an important role in Tarot. Since his arrival in 1996, he has been important for their sound and has even taken over the role for vocals when needed for Marco. On their albums, he sounds great in unison with Marco. He sounds amazing live as well if you watch Tarot's live DVD "Live Undead".
Pecu Cinnari, who has been with the band since their first album, "Spell of Iron", is their drummer and even he can compete with the best of them too in metal. His influences go back to the old days of metal to drummers like Cozy Powell (Rainbow), Randy Castillo (Ozzy Osbourne), and Alex Van Halen (Van Halen).

If you have not heard Tarot yet, you need to listen for yourself their own brand of heavy metal music! They are seriously one of the most underrated bands of all time and if it weren't for Nightwish, I would have had no idea who they were! Tarot is one the biggest pioneers of Finnish metal for many years to come and deserve more recognition for what they do. Their eighth studio album, "Gravity of Light", is going to be released this year and we Tarot fans are very excited! For anyone who is into traditional heavy metal done with style, then Tarot is for you!
Tarot's page:

Rock on! \m/

Bad Album Art in Metal

Okay, here are some examples of bad album art in metal (in my opinion):

This is the image for the 2000 re-release of In Flames' first album, "Lunar Strain". Honestly, this is a great melodic death metal record, but yeah I am not too thrilled about this image though. I mean, this is a dead bird!!! There should have been more creativity here with the image for the re-release of their first album! The original album art was much better.

This is the album art for Almora's "1945". Okay, this is just putrid! What is this suppose to be??? It looks like some fantasy Asian looking world with a fairy??!?!?! What does this have to do with 1945? Well, I like Almora and the music of this album, but this image just looks ridiculous!

This is the album art for Atargatis' first full length album "Wasteland". I understand that this is a concept album, but what the hell!? This just looks really silly! I don't know what to say about this. The music is nice, but this looks too strange to me! It looks like a cover to a really bad B movie!

And finally, this album art by the Finnish band Kivimetsan Druidi for their new album "Betrayal, Justice, Revenge" has to be the grand mother of bad album art in general. Their music is decent on this album, but this looks like the cover of a cliche middle ages video game! Seriously, you really cannot get much worse than this for album art!

Note that I am not insulting any of the bands here. In fact, I like the music of all of these bands, but in my opinion the album art is not up to par with the music on these albums. So yeah, no need to think that I am insulting anyone here, just the artwork! ;) And this is just a fun blog post and I think this is something that isn't meant to take seriously! :D

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dragonforce in Search of New Singer

I am not a big fan of Dragonforce at all: too stock, their songs all sound the same to me, they act like a bunch of show-offs, and, in my opinion, there is way more interesting power metal out there. But I did read with interest tonight that their lead singer, ZP Theart, has parted ways with the band.

"It is with great regret that DRAGONFORCE announce a parting of the ways with singer ZP Theart," the group writes in a statement. "This is due to insurmountable differences of musical opinion but the rest of the band sincerely wishes ZP great success with his future projects."

"Insurmountable differences of musical opinion," eh? The snark in me wonders what these differences could have possibly been, and if DF will be better or worse off with a new singer. Though, it seems to me, they couldn't possibly be any worse.

My Heavy Metal Experience

Okay, well this is officially my first post on this blog! I think it will be fitting to start out by saying that I am excited to start blogging about something I deeply enjoy, which is heavy metal music! And this blog is created for anyone who loves and cherishes the most deep genre in the world today. And I would like to share my experience with heavy metal and how it has changed my life.

To start off, I would like to say that in the beginning, I started listening to bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer, and so forth. Those were the bands that I listened to when I was introduced to metal sometime when I was in high school. It changed my life forever and to think that I was never exposed to this music before just blew my mind. Most of the kids I went to school with did not listen to heavy metal at all, but rather mainstream music that people heard on the radio. After that, people were worried that I was being "evil" because of the cliche that metal is "Satan's music" or whatever the hell it means.

But that did not stop me at all. Later into my twenties, I have stumbled upon some more modern heavy metal music from the Scandinavian countries which gave me a whole new perspective on metal and my musical experience. Many of these bands would never see the light of day in the mainstream market here in America and sometimes finding their albums in locals stores are very rare too. But this is where, in my opinion, the best metal is coming from in the world today. And of course as we build this blog up more, we will be discussing more about these bands and what you can find for music over in Europe.

Despite getting some mixed reactions from my peers, I have finally found my true passion and my favorite music genre that I have been searching for my whole life! With this also brought a desire to take up guitar and learn it so I can play my favorite songs. With that, I started creating music myself and also a new passion and hobby which I find very enjoyable. So yes, heavy metal has had a huge impact in my life. That is all from me. I look forward to hearing more!

Rock on! \m/

Monday, March 8, 2010

As We Get Going Here...

Very new site... While I wait for my co-author to arrive and for me to tinker with the layout and all that fun stuff, do enjoy some metal humour.

Testing, Testing