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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 17: A Song Often Heard on the Radio

Are you kidding me? Metal is not played on mainstream radio here in Canada! You have to go to a specialty station in order to hear any metal, and out here in the boonies, good luck with that. Besides, I don't listen to the radio much anymore since I have a Last.fm account and an MP3 player. The bus I commute to work on plays a local station that plays mainstream shit music, so I never take the bus to work without my MP3 player!

But, now we get into controversy! Because back when I lived in Ontario several years ago and was working for a large retail company, I had to listen to their satellite radio for 8 hours a day. Of course, because this was retail, it had to be "appropriate" music for a very mixed clientele. And guess what metal got played all the time there?

Evanescence.

Compared to a solid stream of Britney, Beyonce, Jessica Simpson, and other "artists" of that ilk, Evanescence was a breath of fresh air when it came on, let me tell you.

And the controversy? Is Evanescence metal? Well, I think so. Lots of people will disagree. And I will not be ashamed at all to say that I love Evanescence and Amy Lee. So there!

Actually, come to think of it, when I shifted departments at this store I was working at, I was able to play my own CDs at one point, and I did have an Evanescence CD to play. Funnily enough, the guy I had big issues with in the department was a HUGE Eva fan, and even went to see them in concert when they came through town (I couldn't go - long story). So, we were able to connect over something positive in the end, which was nice.

Here is one of the songs that got a lot of airplay at that time.

The Great Clean-up of MFF

Well, I have no idea what suddenly spurred Tero into action, but action has indeed been taken on Metal From Finland, both the news site and the forum.

Thank fuck!

I wrote here before about how out of control I thought the site was getting, how depressing it was, and how poorly it reflected on Tero, whose site it is, and the people who participated there. The bashing & hatred also, I believe, reflected poorly on metalheads.

Now, there is a full time moderator on the forum. It's still early days and things have not settled down yet, so it remains to be seen how things will go there, but it is indeed, in my opinion, a very good step, and one that is long overdue.

Of course there has been backlash - from the embittered "hater" crowd, and that is only normal. I totally expect there to be a lot of pissed off users. But I think once the initial shock & anger has died down, this could possibly be a respectable, friendly site once more - the way it used to be when it started.

So, my hat is off to Tero for taking some action - and taking the risk it involved; pissing a lot of regular users off is risky. But I think it was even more risky to allow the free-for-all to continue. Thank you, Tero!

And good luck to the new moderator: you will need it!

Monday, April 26, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 16: A Song I Used to Love But Now Hate

When I first discovered Edenbridge, I really liked them. And then, the more I listened, the more odd I found them. It has to do with their lyrics, I think. Lyrics are important to me, and as I read through Edenbridge's lyrics, I started to feel that they have some of the worst lyrics in metal! Cliches, cheesy rhymes, and the lyrics really don't convey much. There is no real cohesion in what they write. Their lyrics remind me of Duran Duran's lyrics: lots of nice words and images, but they are really not saying a hell of a lot, and therefore they don't make a lot of sense.

Edenbridge does have some nice compositions, however, and I wouldn't say I hate them at all, but rather that I have grown out of them. Some of their songs have good hooks and lovely melodies, but their lyrics fail them.

Here are the lyrics to "Shadowplay" found at Dark Lyrics:

Fly upon a brainchild
With unashamed delight
Bending over backwards day and night

Our world's collapsing
Like a house of cards
A stagy farewell waits without regard

We are hanging in the balance
Are we beyond and remedy?
It was taken out of our hands
And we face a tragedy

[Chorus:]
Why, why are we here
On wild soil we roam
And love to call it home
We are vibrant with life
The will to survive
Ways to go astray
In this shadowplay

Skimming stones on water
Only yesterday
Into cosmic dust we now decay
Kindred souls and spirits
Bound by energy
Who can say what is reality?

Do we flog a dead horse?
Just eternal bliss
Leaves us back to hope for
The former times we miss

We are driven by emotion
And pray the bond won't brake
So strong is our devotion
Our being is opaque

[Chorus]

I have seen the cascade
The souls between light and shade
Not a drop in the ocean
Forever we
The spirit of infinity

See what I mean about cliches? And lots of their songs contain them.

Anyway, here is the song.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Underrated Metal Bands #4: Pharaoh



For the longest time, it is believed that American metal has lost it's steam and hasn't really been good since perhaps the late 80s and early 90s. What came was a surge of alternative rock and nu metal, and good old fashioned American metal as we knew it was going completely out the door. Europe once again retook their position as kings of metal as soon as America ran out of steam. Though there are bands like Iced Earth who kept the old American metal sound fresh and of course Symphony X in progressive metal, it still was not enough as the music scene shifted into a different direction in the mainstream market. But there was one band who did not want to follow trends and wanted to show that American metal is not dead yet. This band is Pharaoh.


I just discovered this band about 2 hours ago, got to listen to most of their discography and wow, I am impressed, especially for a modern American power metal act! The quartet power metal band from Philadelphia was formed in 1997 with the intention that America can compete in the genre of power metal once again. Led by vocalist Tim Aymar with his amazing voice and honestly can be ranked up there in skill along with the likes of other great American metal singers like Dio, Russell Allen, Jon Olivia, and James Hetfield. Their guitarist extraordinaire Matt Johnson is also worth noting. He has shown in this band that he can play as well as anyone in power metal.

Pharaoh has three albums out, with Be Gone being perhaps their best out of the three of what I heard. It is difficult to find good or hell any kind of power metal in America these days, but I really have found a gem in this band. Very underground and very real, they cannot be missed. So if you are into good old fashioned power metal mixed with some of the elements that Dio and Savatage have put together over the years plus with some European and NWOBHM influences, then this is up your alley! Very underrated indeed! Rock on! \m/



Links:

Pharaoh's Last.fm page

Friday, April 23, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 15: A Song that Describes Me

Representation in heavy metal of my values, world view, feelings, and experiences is one of the things that attracted me to the genre in the first place. Some artists are so adept at summing up stuff that has happened in my life, or encapsulated an experience I've had personally so well, I've sometimes felt close to tears. Through metal, I have felt heard & understood, and for someone like me, that is incredibly heartening. I have so much respect and appreciation for artists that have done this for me.

One such band is Angtoria, a British/Swedish symphonic power metal band fronted by the lovely and utterly amazing vocalist Sarah Jezebel Deva. To date, they have released one album, the very dark and at times disturbing God Has a Plan For Us All, an album that covers a variety of topics including suicide, sexual abuse by a priest, and cutting. But all is not bleak on this album; there are some very uplifting songs here, and "That's What the Wise Lady Said" is one of them.

Here are the lyrics:

I'm not going to go into exactly why I feel this song describes me, you will just have to take my word for it. But it does, in so many ways, and this is a prime example of what I was talking about earlier in this post. Sarah writes the lyrics for Angtoria, and I really want to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this song.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 14: A Song No One Would Expect Me to Love

I think people who know me from online wouldn't be too surprised by any particular song I might like, but people in my "real" life might be surprised by quite a few. I'm not exactly a closet metalhead, though I totally used to be. Gradually, in the past year or two, I have been much more open about this, though I still don't advertise it much. I can discuss metal with my brother, who likes quite a bit of metal, but the rest of my family and many of my friends might be a little surprised at what I listen to. I don't think they would judge me, though fear of judgment is, I will admit, one thing that in the past kept me from talking about my musical preferences.

I don't like death metal. But I do enjoy some melodic death metal, and I really like Wintersun's compositions. I was listening to them at the gym yesterday after not listening to them for a while, and I though of this post, because I think if some of the people in my "real" life knew I liked this song, they might be a tad bit surprised.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tanja Maul Parts Ways with Dawn of Destiny

Relaxing with my morning coffee just now, I was checking my Facebook news feed and came upon absolutely devastating news: Tanja Maul, vocalist for Dawn of Destiny, has left the band.

Quoting from the band's MySpace page:

After 5 years Dawn Of Destiny and Tanja go separate ways from now on. Because of the "so-called" musical differences Tanja decided to leave the band. We regret this step, but consider it as right and consequent. We say thanks to Tanja for 5 years of friendship, musicianship and the engagement to support Dawn Of Destiny in reaching our current status.
Tanja's statement, also from the band's MySpace page reads:

Unfortunately somewhen in life comes the time of farewell. Regrettably the musical ideas within the band develop into a direction where I cannot identify myself with Dawn Of Destiny anymore. Therefore I want to announce, that I'm going to leave the band. I wish the guys of DOD big success on their new way. Dear DoD-Fans! Dear Fallen Angels! With all my hear I want to say thank you for the big support, the fun and the bright cordiality, that you gave me on each gig! The "Wacken-WG" is still an issue ;) Peter - You are the Best! Many thanks for the nice time! I am sure that we'll meet each other on stage! All of you shall feel embraced!


I am devastated! Utterly devastated! I am unspeakably devastated!

DoD is up there with Nightwish for me in terms of favourite bands, and Tanja is up there with Tarja in terms of favourite female metal vocalists. Tanja fucking PWNS! DoD fucking PWNS!

I am just...speechless...

OMG...Tuomas should hire her ASAP. THAT would fucking rock my world...

Tanja, I wish you all the best. DoD, I wish you guys all the best, too. I hope you find a suitable replacement, but that is going to be really, really hard...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Celebrating Sonata

Tonight Sonata Arctica is playing in Vancouver. I had planned on attending this gig: I had flights researched, I had organized with a friend to stay at his place, and in fact I was going to take this friend with me to the gig as I didn't want to go on my own, and I was generally looking forward to spending some time in Vancouver because often living in a tiny rural community at the ass end of nowhere can get stifling and a dose of the big city every now and then is never a bad thing. But, I had to move last month, long before I had planned to, and that was a bit costly for me, so I simply could not afford to make the trip for the gig tonight. I was pretty disappointed.

So, I will spend my day listening to some of my favourite Sonata Arctica songs and tonight I shall spend some time imagining myself at the show, thoroughly enjoying myself. With a tear or two, perhaps.

In celebration of SA appearing in my lovely home province, here are a few of my SA faves. To Tony & company & gig attendees: have a great night!





And my favourite Sonata Arctica song of all...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 13: A Song That is a Guilty Pleasure

Well, I won't post any Celine Dion here I guess.

I first heard of UnSun when their single "Whispers" came out back in 2008. I actually really liked the song and wound up buying the CD. It had its moments with some nice lyrics here and there, and a few songs in addition to "Whispers" that were OK. I didn't mind Aya's voice or heavily accented English, but yes, the reality this is a mediocre band with a heavily commercialized sound, and it's basically a very poor example of Gothic metal.

Still, "Whispers" is catchy and once in a while I need a bit of lighter music if my mood leans that way, and the video is kind of cool.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 12: A Song from a Band I Hate

Well, I don't really "hate" any band, in the end. I just accept that people have different musical tastes and listen to what I like - and I try not to complain too much.

There are a lot of bands I just don't get, though, and Slipknot is one of them. I don't get the masks for one thing, and I don't get the costumes. I don't get their image. I don't like the vocal style of what's-his-name. I don't like their creepy videos. I don't like their sound. I just...don't see the draw with these guys at all.

But if you do, that's fine. Like I said, it's just a different musical taste, that's all.

Anyway, here is a song from Slipknot to fulfill the requirements of today's installment of the 30 Day Music Challenge!

Finnish Metal Music Videos: Women In Bathtubs (Some Metal Humor)

The new Kiuas music video for the single "Of Love, Lust and Human Nature" was just released from the band this morning and it got me thinking of something. Since the video had a woman laying in a bathtub naked, it got me thinking of other Finnish metal music videos that had this very similar thing in their videos as well. It's just very ironic that I know of THREE videos that have women laying in bathtubs. Well that is something that I am going to share here for fun. Enjoy!



This is the new Kiuas video. (with a naked woman laying in a bathtub beginning @ 2:16)



Wolf & Raven video for Sonata Arctica. (A naked woman in a bathtub @ 3:00)



Nightwish's Sleeping Sun music video. (Tarja in a random bathtub @ 1:00, though not naked)

Is it just me, or is this just a trend among Finnish bands? If anyone knows of any other videos with women in bathtubs, let me know if I missed any! Rock on! \m/

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Come Cover Me: Hijo de la Luna

The first time I head this song was on Sarah Brightman's CD, La Luna, which I bought when it came out in 2000. I am grateful to my grandparents, of all people, for getting me into Sarah Brightman to begin with! Anyway, this is still such a rewarding album for me to listen to and I have always loved Sarah's version of "Hijo de la Luna", which is Spanish for "Son of the Moon." According to Wikipedia, "Hijo de la Luna" was first performed by a Spanish band called Mecano. Since then, it has been covered numerous times in addition to Sarah Brightman's version.



One of my favourite folk metal bands, Lyriel, also has a cover version of this song I really like, and I was so pleasantly surprised when it appeared on their Autumntales album.



Then there is Haggard, who does perhaps my favourite cover of Hijo, which appears on their Tales of Itheria album.



Finally, I just discovered a Finnish version of this song, performed by Katra, and named "Kuunpoika." I honestly wasn't too sure what to think of Katra when James first introduced me to her, but I have to admit, she is growing on me. This version of Hijo is good, but I find it a bit slow for my taste. It does have a nice guitar solo in it, though, which is quite cool.



What do you guys think? Which is your favourite version?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 11: A Song from My Favourite Band

Here is a live version of Nightwish's "Wishmaster" from way back in the day! There is such amazing energy in this video!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Video Game Metal Cover: Ninja Gaiden Act 5-3

So if you guys do not already know, I cover video game songs done in metal style (most notably Finnish and European power/melodic death styled metal). So here is my latest video! Enjoy!

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 10: A Song that Makes Me Fall Asleep

Krypteria's vocalist, Ji-in Cho has quite the soporific voice, actually. So, we'll go with "Victoriam Speramus" for this one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Metal from Finland & The Floggers of Dead Horses

It is with great hesitation that I write this post because in a lot of ways I think the less that is said about Hater Haven AKA Metal from Finland the better. But, on the other hand, I have some strong feelings about my now former favourite internet hangout, and since this is my blog, I think I'm just going to go for it and let the chips fall where they may.

Look, I am very opinionated and I have an opinion on pretty much everything. And if you ask me, I'll tell you. I think having opinions about things you're passionate about is great, and I think it's great that there is a place where these opinions can be debated and discussed.

But that place is no longer Metal from Finland, both the main site and the forum. Because both those sites have turned into a place where people go to flog massive numbers of dead horses and then sling the dead horses' shit around with the passion and glee of a swarm of sugar-loaded school children at a cafeteria food fight.

I have flung some shit there myself in the past when my buttons were sufficiently pushed, but I quickly realized how futile it was to engage with a group of people hell bent on merciless nit-picking, insults, disrespect, irrational and reactionary behaviour, sheer stupidity, tiresome repetition of old and illogical arguments, general blockheadedness, immaturity, and relentless bashing & belittling.

It's become fucking depressing! The forum used to be a nice, fun place to hang out and I have made some cool connections on that site that I have really enjoyed and valued, but lately, the negativity and the continual beating of the proverbial dead dog is just too much.

Like I said, have an opinion. State it. State it strongly. But becoming a fucking harpy is not cool, especially when participants who want to have a bit of fun there are starting to become alienated because they don't want to constantly bash Anette Olzon & Nightwish. Make your point, make it well, but for fuck's sake, eventually the constant negativity is wearing and marginalizing. Once your point has been made, ad nauseam, can you not give it a fucking rest and find something else to talk about?

Because let me just say this: the constant harping, bashing, and general shit slinging does not reflect poorly upon Anette or Nightwish; it reflects poorly upon the people slinging the shit.

And, it reflects badly upon Tero and Metal from Finland. Initially, the main site was great for me to get some news and read some interesting opinions. But now, it's a circus and a hang out for Nighwish/Anette haters. Even the Tarja threads inevitably turn into ranting soap boxes for NW/Anette haters! And the fact that the forum is completely unmoderated has turned that site into a hater free-for-all where anything goes, including people expressing wishes to be violent towards Anette.

It's a fucking shame. I liked that place and I liked meeting people there. Now, it just makes me want to cry.

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 09: A Song You Can Dance To

Dance? I do not dance.

Let's change this to "a song I can headbang to." And once more, there are so many to choose from it's hard to pick one to put here.

This one comes to mind, though: Crimfall's "Wildfire Season." I LOVE this band, and their debut album As the Path Unfolds... They are releasing a new CD this year, and I am so looking forward to it!



Here's another, this time from my official second-favourite band, Dawn of Destiny, "Days of Crying."



What about you guys?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Underrated Metal Bands #3: Savatage







Anyone remember this band? Or how about this: does anyone know of the “Christmas metal” band Trans-Siberian Orchestra? Well believe it or not, Savatage actually features most of the members from TSO. But before TSO came Savatage and it is astonishing how this band got so under the radar over the years!

The origin of this band goes back to when the Olivia brothers, Criss (guitar) and Jon (vocals), founded the band Avatar in 1978. This newly formed band, along with Steve Wacholz (drums) and Keith Collins (bass), played in various bars in and around the Tampa, Florida area. In 1983, due to copyright issues, the name “Avatar” was no longer allowed to be used for the band. Thus the new and current name of the band, Savatage, was born mixing the names “Avatar” and “Savage” together.



Savatage’s early music was influenced by early heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath and NWOBHM acts like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. They played a very aggressive, fast paced heavy metal style (speed/power metal) and eventually formed their own signature sound with the Olivia brothers doing what they do best. Jon Olivia’s
voice is unlike anything in metal as he just uses every moment he takes to create one of metal’s most menacing voices. He was very underrated and never got the credit he deserved. Same with his brother Criss, who in my opinion was one of metal’s finest guitar players, but never got the kind of respect he deserved either.

In 1987, four years after their stellar debut “Sirens”, the group released their zenith album “Hall of the Mountain King”. It remains their most commercially successful album and in my opinion is a classic American heavy metal album. The self titled track “Hall of the Mountain King” is the band’s best and most popular song to date. The song and music video would be played on MTV’s Headbangers Ball on a consistent basis. This was the turning point for the band and would ultimately make them go in a different direction musically.



With the release of “Gutter Ballet” in 1989, the band went from the straight forward heavy/power metal sound to being more progressive. Fans of the band had mixed reactions of the change in style at that time, but in the end, the band proved this to be a successful move and their new sound was just getting underway. In 1991, the group released “Streets: A Rock Opera”. Again, it was another experiment by the band to be even more progressive and less heavy metal. The fans had mixed reactions again, but it proved to be another move that would later influence their new group, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which plays and performs a style similar to what Savatage played at that time.

The release of their 1993 album “Edge of Thorns” brought new and different changes to Savatage. For the first time in the band’s history, Jon Olivia stepped down as the lead vocalist and was replaced by Zachary Stevens, who in my opinion is no where near as good as Jon at vocals. This change was not well accepted by the fans and many thought that the group was beginning the lose some of it’s steam. But nothing would be as devastating to Savatage as to what happened later in that year. On October 17, 1993, Criss Olivia (left picture) was killed as a drunk driver took his life on impact around 3:30 in the morning near Tampa, Florida on Highway 301. This tragedy left the band and his brother Jon in shock. Many thought that Savatage’s future was in jeopardy, but Jon kept the band going and released another album entitled “Handful of Rain” a year later. This album brought back some of the heavy/power metal elements the band had abandoned with their new progressive sound. The album was mainly a tribute to Criss, especially with the song “Alone You Breathe”.

Since 2002, the group has been primarily inactive and put on hiatus, but at the same time most of the members are focusing on their more popular project of TSO. So if you have not heard this band before, I recommend them to anyone who likes old school progressive/power metal, or just anyone who likes good metal music. Savatage is indeed one of the most underrated as well as one of the greatest American metal bands of all time. Rock on! \m/

links:

Savatage's main website , Savatage's last.fm page

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 08: A Song I Know All the Words To

OK, I really like Delain. Yes, they are radio-friendly and "lighter" Gothic metal, but I still like them. I thought April Rain was a bit disappointing, but I loved Lucidity. I love Charlotte Wessels, and I love this song, which yes, I do know all the lyrics to, "Frozen." I also love this video and the music box-like keyboard intro. I'm not totally stoked about the edited version of the song they did for the video, but it happens a lot, so I guess I can live with it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Favourite Female Vocalists: Tarja Turunen

Yep, another series. Since I listen to predominantly female-fronted bands, I thought I'd start off with my ultimate favourite metal singer, Finland's Tarja Turunen.

Most of us know that Tarja was the original singer for Nightwish, and she fronted this symphonic metal group for 10 years, until she was dismissed by the band in October 2005 by a nasty and backstabbing open letter. You must be living under a rock if you are unaware of the resulting drama, and the big division the hiring of Anette Olzon has caused between the old Nightwish fans, and the so-called New Nightwish fans. In the end, I don't give a crap about the drama; I just love to sit back and enjoy Nightwish's music (Tarja-era more often than not).

Without a doubt, Tarja helped pioneer a metal sub-genre and her voice is legendary. Her power is unparalleled. Here is one of my favourites, "Sleeping Sun", and the old video for it when Tarja was in her early twenties. The filming of this video out it the woods of Finland was apparently not fun as Tarja and the crew were relentlessly attacked by fiendish mosquitoes.

And here is Tarja's most amazing vocal performance, IMO, from Nighwish's Oceanborn CD, "Stargazers". Here she really shows off her range and operatic style, and the whole band shows off it's symphonic power metal chops.

Since the dismissal, Tarja has worked tirelessly on her solo career and has released one album, My Winter Storm. It was OK musically, but of course Tarja sounded her usual amazing self on it. Right now, she is working on her second album, What Lies Beneath, and it's not only on my list of most anticipated albums of 2010, but on many others' as well. According to Tarja's blog, this album will be released in August. Here is Tarja's first single from My Winter Storm, "I Walk Alone."

And here is the second single from My Winter Storm, "Die Alive", featuring nice big doggies!

I have a lot of admiration and respect for Tarja. Not only is she a huge talent, she is an amazing beauty, has such an elegant personal style, and she has made the most of a bad situation, spread her wings, and soared above it all with her classy personality. I think she is a great role model and I wish her all the best in the future!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 07: A Song that Reminds Me of a Certain Event

I'm posting two today because I feel like it!

This song by Linkin Park reminds me of my divorce!

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 06: A Song that Reminds Me of Somewhere

This is a no-brainer. Whenever I hear Nighwish's "Sacrament of Wilderness" I am reminded of home. I live in a rural, mountainous area surrounded by thick forests and abundant wildlife - and we get tons of snow. When the snow is gone, I spend quite a bit of time in the woods hiking, and I have also started foraging. Last year, as I picked huckleberries, I listened to this song a lot on my MP3 player, until I got concerned that a bear or cougar might come crashing out of the woods and I wouldn't be able to hear it! There is also a strong environmental message in this song that hits close to home, as this is an area very concerned about water conservation (we get our water for the year from our snow pack on the surrounding mountains) and there is a lot of logging activity here that scars the land with huge clear cuts.



I love how young everyone in the band looks in this video!

Monday, April 5, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 05: A Song That Reminds Me of Someone

I am going to keep this one simple, since the subject matter is highly personal. Let me just say that "Sing in Silence" by Sonata Arctica is a song that hits very close to home, and it reminds me of several people I've encountered in my life, not just one. The last two lines "How can I erase your pain and aid you/When death wants to kiss you and you want to kiss him back" make my heart sore. This is a brilliant song with a universality so many of us can identify with, I think.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Metal from Canada: Savage Blade

I initially wanted to start a Metal from Canada site, similar to Metal from Finland, but once I started looking into it I saw that A) it would be extremely time consuming, and B) it wouldn't be a very busy site. While there are quite a good number of metal bands in Canada, heavy metal is still a sub-culture here; it's nowhere near mainstream at all. Also, the hub of metal in Canada is in the province of Quebec, with a few pockets here and there in other parts of the east, and a smattering of bands, very few and far between, in the west. The more well-known names hailing from Canada, like The Agonist and UnExpect, for instance, I am not super fond of.

But I have found some gems, and lo and behold, even here in The Boondocks, there is decent metal! Let me introduce you to Savage Blade!

I first came across this band in Metal Archives, and when I mentioned them to my brother, a local businessman, he said he knew them because his company had done some work for them. However, I got distracted with little things like life, and it wasn't until a recent trip to the lovely city of Nelson, the hometown of Savage Blade, that I realized I should take some time to look into this band further. As I window shopped along the main street, there were all kinds of posters advertising Savage Blade's new album, We Are the Hammer.

Let me say that Nelson, and The Boondocks in general, is not a heavy metal mecca whatsoever. Nelson itself is known as being the local mecca for "alternative lifestyles," meaning it is a haven for hippies, draft dodgers, artists, pot activists, organic farmers, vegans, Buddhists, yogis, poets & writers - you name it. While Nelson might be the cultural epicentre of The Boondocks, the rest of the area is kind of redneck central. And rednecks are known for their shitty country/pop/rap music, amongst other things.

Given all this, Savage Blade has been an excellent discovery for me. Their vocalist is very skilled, and someone told me he's actually a jazz singer of some note, as well. And their music, classified as power metal with NWOBHM and classic Glam Metal influence, is astoundingly good.

They are streaming their entire album on their web site, so you can take a listen here.

Here are a couple of teasers for you from YouTube.





The bummer is, now that I know about these guys, they don't seem to be putting on any local shows I can attend! This is so typical of living in the boonies!

In all seriousness, Savage Blade has signed a record deal with a German label and, from what I have been told by my source, they are going to be touring Europe. If you are over there and get a chance to check these guys out, please do, and let me know how it goes!

EDIT: SHIT! They are playing in Nelson on April 24 but I have to work!!!!!!! Just my luck!!!!!!!

Come Cover Me: Part One of a New Series

There are so many covers out there to explore that I felt this category deserved a series of its own here. I really enjoy hearing what people do to old songs to make them their own; some are great and indeed even better than the original version, and some are complete fails. I envision this series as including both good and bad covers - in my opinion, of course!

So, I'm going to start with a song that has a Canadian connection. She isn't metal, but I do love Alanis Morissette; she has written some lyrics that so accurately describe things that have happened in my life it's uncanny, and I really identify with her. Back in the 1998, she had a song called "Uninvited" included on the City of Angels soundtrack (no I have not seen the movie; I can't stand the two actors in it). I had a copy of this CD, but it got lost in one of my many moves during that decade, and for a while I'd actually totally forgotten about "Uninvited" until I stumbled across a Finnish Gothic metal band called Silentium. I believe I found these guys via Jon's blog where he did a review of their album Amortean, and I was stunned to find that they had done a cover of "Uninvited." I absolutely loved what they did to it.

Here is Alanis's original version (there is also a pretty decent live version here, with a symphony & everything):



And here is Silentium's version:



I love the mournful violins, and of course I love the heaviness and darkness Silentium brings to this song. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 04: A Song that Makes Me Sad

Well, this is a little easier than the previous post.

I discovered Nordic folk metalers Midnattsol over a year ago, after reading that the sister of Leaves' Eyes front woman, Liv Kristine, is the lead vocalist. Totally different vocal styles, totally different band. And Midnattsol also boasts a female bass player! \m/

Where Twilight Dwells is Midnattsol's first album, and it remains my favourite. This song, "Desolation", is heavy with aching emotion, and still brings a lump to my throat.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Underrated Metal Bands #2: Kiuas

Kiuas is:
Ilja Jalkanen: vocals
Mikko Salovaara: guitars
Markku Näreneva: drums
Teemu Tuominen: bass
Atte Tanskanen: keyboards


The second band that I will talk about in my "Underrated Metal Bands" series is the Finnish power metal band Kiuas. Formed in 2000 out of the city of Helsinki Finland, the band had the idea of mixing death, thrash, folk, and power metal while singing with clean vocals provided by Ilja Jalkanen. It's funny because the actual word "kiuas" actually means a stove used in a sauna in the Finnish language. Very interesting how that ties together with their pagan themes in their songs.

Kiuas' first demos as a band included "The Discipline of Steel" in 2002 and "Born Under the Northern Lights" in 2003. Unfortunately, the label they were signed to, Rage of Achilles out of the UK, had gone under which forced them to let go all of their bands as a result of financial issues. Kiuas was one of those bands as well. The label however did release the "Winter in June" EP in 2004 before Finland's own Spinefarm Records (known for signing big named Finnish bands such as Nightwish, Children of Bodom, Sonata Arctica, Ensiferum, Kalmah, and many more) signed Kiuas and still are signed to them to this day. There was a new light for Kiuas and with this new signing as a result, the band released their first full-length album "The Spirit of Ukko" in 2005. The album pays homage to the Finnish Zeus Ukko. It was well received and many saw what they were capable of now. This begins their crusade into the metal world with their pagan themes, meaningful melodies, and kick ass guitar solos are riffs provided by Mikko Salovaara, who in my opinion is one of the most underrated guitarists in metal today. I describe him as a mix of Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom) and Jani Liimatainen (ex-Sonata Arctica) but at the same time creating his own style as well.
The band has also released "Reformation" in 2006 and "The New Dark Age" in 2008, in which both are excellent releases and are great additions to the world of power metal. With this, Kiuas was gaining new grounds and hitting the Finnish charts for the first time. From what I heard, Kiuas is mildly popular in their home country of Finland, but outside of the country, very few people actually know about them which is quite a shame because they truly are a great modern metal band. They should more popular than what they are in my opinion.

A couple days ago, Kiuas released "Lustdriven", their fourth full-length album (expect a CD review of that album soon!). Of course, I will be checking it out. In the meantime, I encourage you or anyone with an open mind to check out this band. If you want very fast, gutsy, and epic power metal, then Kiuas should be on the top of your list! You will not regret it! Rock on! \m/


Kiuas' homepage: http://www.kiuas.net/

Kiuas' last.fm page: http://www.last.fm/music/Kiuas

30 Day Music Challenge, Day 03

So, today a song that makes me happy. Seems simple enough, right? No! Lots of songs make me happy!

A good folk metal song usually does the trick, especially if it's a traditional drinking song! I'll go with Tyr's "The Wild Rover." According to Wikipedia, "The Wild Rover" is a traditional Scottish pub song with contested roots. Whatever the history, I always enjoy the bounciness of this song and its lightheartedness brings a smile to my face.



Enjoy!