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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nightwish Baby News

I would like to take a moment right now to congratulate Anette Olzon on the birth of her son, which she just announced on her blog.

Say what you want about this woman, I don't care; I love it when someone has a baby! And despite all the shit Anette gets, I am thrilled that she and the baby are healthy and safe, and I truly wish her all the very best on this newest part of her life's journey.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Come Cover Me: Crawling

OK...I have been bold enough to admit here before that I like Linkin Park. On their Hybrid Theory CD, the opening song was this piece called "Crawling." It's definitely not my favourite track on that album (that would be a toss-up between "In the End" and "Papercut") but it's still a song I like well enough. Here it is:

Now, while surfing around YouTube a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon a German act called Angelzoom. The brainchild of Claudia Uhle, I did some listening and I actually liked what I heard. She has a great voice, and her music is...relaxing. It's kind of hard to categorize: sort of electronica, sort of New Age, very ethereal. Whatever it is, it's certainly not metal. Why they are signed with Nuclear Blast I cannot tell you, but signed they are (same goes for Indica :|). Anyway, the band's self titled album contained a very familiar song...You guessed it - a cover of Linkin Park's "Crawling."

When I first heard this version, I thought, WTF? Now when I listen to it, my thoughts are pretty much the same. Not a fan of this cover at all. Take a listen yourself.

The original has power and edge and anger. The cover is as limp as a wet noodle and lacks all the energy the original had. As I have said before, some things you should just not fuck with!

Ballads Away: Away

Not only do I think Nightwish's "Away" is an underrated ballad period, I also think it's one of Nightwish's most underrated songs period. It's very simple, but it's very lovely, I think, and I particularly like the harmonies. Another great track from Over the Hills and Far Away, though in the biography, Tarja called this song a piece of crap, and Tuomas said he didn't like it either. I don't get it!

Tarja's single "Falling Awake" now streaming on Youtube (video avaliable)

For those who have been waiting, Tarja's first single "Falling Awake" from her new album What Lies Beneath is out now and can be heard on Youtube:

Enjoy and rock on! \m/

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Therion vocalist Snowy Shaw calls it quits

Some news in the symphonic metal world. Vocalist Snowy Shaw has quit the band Therion after only two studio albums in the four years he has been with the group.

"I've had a terrific and great time touring and working with THERION and I do wish them nothing but the best in the future, but I've felt for some time that it's time for me to move on," Snowy told BLABBERMOUTH.NET. "I also wanna take the opportunity to show my gratitude and thank all the loyal fans for their support, love and understanding." -quote from

You can view the main article here.

Rocking 30-Something (and one 40-something) Metal Chicks

In less than two weeks, I will be having a birthday myself. I'll be 36. At this time of my life, I'm doing a lot of reflecting, and I do this with a sense of amazement because for me, life has just started to really take off in so many ways. I look at what I have now, what I have accomplished, and I feel so full of gratitude. I really feel this past year that I have grown younger, not older.

I thought I'd write a post about metal women around my age who totally rock, both in celebration of being immensely cool in your mid to late 30s, but also in response to those people on MFF who have particularly agist attitudes towards a certain female vocalist. The target of this agism recently turned 39, but even before this, she was accused of being "middle aged" and "a granny" and the rounding up of her age to 40 was done with derision, as if 40 is a bad age. I find this extremely offensive, to say the least. Mind you, most of these nay-sayers are in their 20s, so yeah, a woman in her late 30s might seem so dreadfully old, but fuck, people, you have a lot to learn.

So here is my list of 30-something women who are still rocking, and still as metal as hell.

1. Liv Kristine. Born February 14, 1976. Age: 34. Lead singer of Leaves' Eyes and killer solo artist in her own right. I love this woman. She is so ethereally beautiful it almost makes me want to cry, and she is sexy and talented as hell. Will she be granny-ish in a few years? I think not.

2. Cristina Scabbia. Born June 6 1972. Age: 38. Lead singer of Lacuna Coil. This is no "middle aged granny" let me tell you.

3. Sharon den Adel. Born July 12, 1974. So, she will be 36 tomorrow. Lead singer of Within Temptation. God, I love this woman. She has two little children, a wicked partner, a wicked career, does a lot of her own costume designs, which I love, and is a wicked talented woman. And she is ridiculously gorgeous. Even in 3 years, she will be no "middle-aged granny." She is just getting better and better, as far as I'm concerned.

4. Anneke van Giersbergen. Born March 8, 1973. Age: 37. Ex-The Gathering, now of Agua de Annique. I will always remember her headbanging away on stage with The Gathering, with that amazing long hair she used to have. She rocks!

5. Stephanie Luzie. Born April 6, 1974. Age: 36. Lead singer of Atargatis and Darkwell. Talk about amazing hair! I have hair envy when ti comes to Stephanie! Fucking gorgeous, fucking amazing singer, fucking amazing on stage, and pretty fucking decent lyricist. I think she is fucking awesome.

6. Sandra Schleret. Born June 26, 1976. Age: 34. Lead singer of Elis. Now, I don't know all the details, but it is well known that Sandra had a very severe illness that almost killed her at one point, but she survived with gusto, so you go and ask her how granny-like she is feeling these days!

7. And how about Doro? Born June 3, 1964. The Queen of Metal is 46. She is the only officially middle-aged woman on this list (because, over here in my culture, middle age starts around the mid to late 40s), but is she granny-like? I think not! She still looks and sounds amazing, and she still fucking rocks.

I'm sure there are others I could mention, but these are the ones I came up with on the fly. Let me know of any others you know of!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Dawn of Destiny's Jens Faber interview on The Abbey Metal Show

Dawn of Destiny's bassist and main songwriter Jens Faber got an interview with The Abbey Metal Show tonight. Here is a link to the streaming audio here!

This interview comes from this website. It is very interesting and worth checking out for anyone into heavy metal! ROCK ON! \m/

CD Review: Nightwish's "Dark Passion Play"

After Nightwish's final gig of the "Once" tour on October 21st, 2005, Tarja Turunen was asked to leave the band in an open letter that literally sent shock waves to fans of the band and the symphonic metal world. Not only was this the official dismissal of their singer, who has been with the band for almost nine years at that point in time, but it also created a lot of controversy because of the fact that the letter was made publicly for the world to see which ultimately divided their fan base with mixed feelings and doubt.

On top of all of the drama and issues surrounding Tuomas and crew, people wondered who the next woman was going to be taking Tarja's place for lead vocals. While in the process of recording their next studio album "Dark Passion Play", Nightwish hired ex-Alyson Avenue vocalist Anette Olzon as their new singer in 2007. Now that she is the new singer, can she fill the shoes of someone as important as Tarja Turunen? In reality, this was indeed a tough position to fill because being a vocalist for a symphonic metal band like Nightwish is not easy. Lots of training and plenty of adequate vocal range are required to do well for sure. Personally, I do not think that Anette is a "bad" singer so to speak, but her voice just simply doesn't flow well with the style that Nightwish plays. Plus, she really is not my cup of tea for vocals either necessarily, but I have nothing truely against her personally. Her vocal style is very common and average. Nightwish right now is missing that uniqueness that Tarja provided for the band. So Anette is clearly not the best choice for vocals in Nightwish.

Anette is not the only thing that is hurting Nightwish on "Dark Passion Play". Musically, the style is roughly the same. Pip Williams and his orchestra came back again for another round on this album. His input really provides some depth no doubt, but like "Once", we hear less of the actual band playing again like before. Emppu's input is once again limited, Tuomas is drowned out by Pip and his crew, and Jukka is facing the same issues as before with the mixing of his drum tracks. One boost this album has however is their use of Marco at vocals. His involvement on this release is far more substantial than on the previous two releases. He sings main vocals on two tracks ("The Islander", "Master Passion Greed", and "While Your Lips Are Still Red" if you count that one too) and provides duet and backup vocals on most of the tracks. His presence is greatly felt and the album benefits from him for sure.

I knew that writing this review would prove to be tough since there is so much controversy surrounding the band and this album. So this song-by-song review is going to be as accurate and unbiased as it would be if I had never heard of Nightwish before. "Dark Passion Play" happened to be my first Nightwish album I ever owned and heard anyways. So here we go:

1. "The Poet and the Pendulum": Like majority of the Nightwish discography, there is bound to be a big bombastic 10+ minute epic song, and this is it. The intro to the song has a creepy feel to it with guest vocalist Guy Elliott providing some vocals here. After this, the orchestra kicks in and picks up the pace and the excitement of the song. Of all the songs on the album, Anette seems to fit the best on this track for some reason. The chorus is surprisingly powerful and good as Marco adds his touch here and gives it a lot of depth. The next section is slower and has a more ballady feel to it. Guy Elliott comes back for more vocals and is later joined by Anette once again. After this part, the song picks back up and the song gets intense again. Marco does some harsh vocals here while Emppu plays some Pantera groove metal styled guitar riffs. The chorus repeats again and leads into the next part where we have a breakdown and possibly the cheesiest point in Tuomas' career! He inserted his name in the song! We all know that this song is about your struggles, but you don't have to say your name in your own song! After that silliness, the final section is very sad with not much going on here really. I would usually skip over this part of the song because it is very boring to listen to. Overall, it is a nice effort and it is also Nightwish's longest song to date being clocked in at 13:53. I don't think this song is as powerful as other Nightwish epics, but it does have good moments. 3.5/5

2. "Bye Bye Beautiful": To be honest, this is the first Nightwish song I ever heard. I actually thought this was a pop rock band (LOL XD) at first when I heard this song, and I would have never of guessed that they were power metal at all. This song as many know is about their former singer, Tarja Turunen and how they feel about her. To me, this song has some of Tuomas' worst lyrics to date. They come across very childish and silly to me! And like "Wish I Had An Angel", it has that industrial metal feel to it which makes Jukka's job seem pointless once again. There isn't much to say other than it is a very over the top and silly song. 2/5

3. "Amaranth": This is one of Nightwish's most commerically biggest hits along with "Nemo". I will admit that this song has some catchiness to it and the lyrics aren't half bad, but I just find the execution to be very bland and too simplistic. It doesn't do a lot for me. 2.5/5

4. "Cadence of Her Last Breath": Of all the Nightwish songs that I know of, this is probably the closest to sounding like Evanescence. It's very dull, boring, and it really just sounds too stock! Emppu's guitar solo is surprisingly good here, but even that doesn't help the song too much. 2/5

5. "Master Passion Greed": A song about Tarja's husband, Marcello. While I normally like an angry and fast song by Nightwish, this really doesn't cut it for me. This song is seriously an attempt at thrash metal that falls flat on it's face! The song is sung entirely by Marco. This is usually a good thing, but here he sounds too over the top. On top of that, the lyrics come out sounding too immature and childish! Nightwish even had the courage to insert the word "Fuck" in this song. This is definitely a first for them! Overall, this is an attempt at an angry song that doesn't work. 2/5

6. "Eva": The first ballad of the album. This seriously has to be one of Nightwish's worst ballads. Nothing here is memorable at all. It just needs to be skipped over! 2/5

7. "Sahara": I will admit that the intro to this song is fantastic! It is as epic and awesome as what we would want to hear from this band! After that, the song slows way down and goes into a middle-eastern themed song. The rest of the song is okay, but it really becomes dull after the intro in my opinion. A good listen and it is one of the strongest tracks on the album, but the intro is really the highlight here! 3.5/5

8. "Whoever Brings The Night": A song which is apparently about a whore judging by the lyrics. It is worth a listen and has some interesting guitar riffs in this song, but don't expect too much because the lyrics are a little over the top here. 2.5/5

9. "For the Heart I Once Had": This has to be Nightwish's worst song of all time! It is incredibly sappy and corny which features some very poor lyrics by Tuomas as well! That is all I am saying about this one! Listen at your own risk! 1/5

10. "The Islander": Another song where Marco is the lead vocalist. This is a very relaxing folk song. Even for an Irish folk-styled song, this is not even up to par with some other songs in that genre of music. Even so, this is one of the strongest points of this album and it has some great moments without a doubt. 3.5/5

11. "Last of the Wilds": To me, this is the best song on the album. Why you ask? Because there are no lyrics or vocals here! It is a pure mid-tempo folksy instrumental that is very nice to relax and listen to. While not as strong as "Moondance," it does hold it's own. 4/5

12. "7 Days to the Wolves": I believe this to be one of the better songs on the album as well. The chorus is very powerful sounding and really works in the song. Anette, however, sort of ruins it for me at times. Despite that, Marco adds his own flair on this track in the outro and in the chorus. There are very memorable sections here and the orchestra really flows well. Worth a listen for sure! 3.5/5

13. "Meadows of Heaven": Another ballad. It is better than "Eva", but honestly this song is just not that great either. The outro gospel choirs are too over the top toward the end of the song. The song is worth a listen, but it really isn't that memorable. 3/5

14. "The Escapist": This is a bonus track for "Dark Passion Play." Pip Williams and his orchestra really do a nice job on this track and it really gives it a big boost. Anette surprisingly sounds alright here too! Nightwish really should have put this song on their main tracklist instead of "For The Heart I Once Had" for example. 3.5/5

15. "While Your Lips Are Still Red": A track that wasn't originally meant for "Dark Passion Play," but I am going to review it anyways. Sung entirely by Marco, he sounds much more gentle and soft than he normally would. He sounds very nice, but this song however is just very average with nothing that really stands out to me. It was meant for a movie and I suppose that worked for it! 3/5

So that is my review of "Dark Passion Play." Here are my overall thoughts:

-Lots of variety. Not one song sounds the same on this album
-Marco does a good job on vocals when needed
-The orchestra work is solid

-Suffers much of the same flaws as "Once"
-Anette Olzon's voice doesn't really fit
-Lyrics are bad for Nightwish standards
-Too many bad and mediocre songs

Despite a lot of flaws, there are some good moments on this album I will admit. But seriously, something is missing here. Whether it is the lack of Tarja's presence or the lack of inspiration, it doesn't really feel like a true Nightwish album to me like I know they are capable of. Because of the lack of consistency, I am going to have to give this album a horns down! /w\ I really wanted to like this more being a Nightwish fan, but it just has too many flaws and only a few songs stood out. At least "Once" had more epic and memorable songs on it. Here, they are few and far between! It is without a doubt Nightwish's worst album to date for multiple reasons. It seems with all of the drama that is surrounding the band nowadays and the addition of Anette, the quality of Nightwish has greatly lessened. So here I have a list of suggestions for Nightwish if they want to get back some of their former glory:

1. Go back to their roots: Lately, Nightwish has relied too heavily on Pip's orchestra work on their last couple of albums. I seriously think that Nightwish was at their best when it was all Tuomas doing the sounds on keyboard alone! Now the band basically sounds like a backing track to the orchestra which limits them in more ways than one! Going to a more pure power metal sound like they had in the 90s would be a good thing for them!

2. Find a new singer: No offense to Anette, once again, but she just doesn't work with this band's chemistry at all! Nightwish really needs to find a singer that is more classically trained for the songs! Believe me, there are plenty of women that are more qualified too! Plus during live shows, Anette struggles with the old and even some of the current songs! No doubt that Tarja is hard to replace, but they still need to find someone who is more capable of singing for this band!

3. Tuomas lyrics and themes need improving: I understand that Tuomas may have gone through some tough times and has a lot of issues in his life, but I think that he needs to get rid of the "poor Tuomas" lyrics and themes. "Dark Passion Play" has some very ill advised and unusually poor lyrics! I really think that Tuomas needs to go back and look at "Oceanborn" or "Wishmaster" for inspiration again and see how poetic he used to be as opposed to now. Not saying he isn't capable, but he has slipped over the years. He is still a great songwriter, but this is an area which needs to be improved, no question!

This was a very difficult review to write! This is indeed my most detailed review to date and I hope you enjoyed it! I am very curious at what happens with Nightwish and their next album. It seems that right now they are only a shadow of their former self and seem to be going toward a more commercial direction. Of course, a lot of bands go through this trial and error phase no question! However, I am not about to give up on them just yet really because I simply don't do that with my favorite bands. Yes, this is a big disappointment and I understand people's frustrations with what has happened, but that was the past and this is now. When I discovered this band, I knew nothing about Tarja or anything until much later. When I found out, I really did question a lot of what the band did and I know that we all do not know what really happened! Only the band truly knows that. But yes, Nightwish remains a very important band to me. They have influenced my life in more ways than one! These reviews are basically a tribute to them and everything they have done! I am more than likely going to be reviewing their newest album when it comes out so stay tuned! Until then, ROCK ON and thanks for reading!

Overall rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Today is Canada Day! There will be partying, and I believe I will be downing some margaritas later on today!

In celebration, I thought I'd highlight a few Canadian artists for you.

First we have Anemonia, a Gothic metal outfit from Montreal. Apparently, their singer, Cassiopee, was in the short list to replace Tarja in Nightwish. This is a great song by Anemonia called "Enchanting Melodies of Eternal Night."

Blackguard also hails from Montreal and they are one hard-working band, having toured with Ensiferum and Epica to name a few. James has actually seen them live and he said they put on a great show. While their music isn't exactly my cup of tea, I still admire their work ethic and speed - and they have a female drummer! This is "Scarlet to Snow" from their only CD so far, Profugus Mortis.

Finally, a female fronted power metal band from Quebec City (are you seeing the theme, here? La Belle Province is the metal hub in this country!), Forgotten Tales. Here is "Sanctuary" from their first album, The Promise.