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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some Halloween Tunes

I find Halloween quite an irritating time of year, but the Celt in me enjoys Samhain (pronounced "saw-when"). This is the start of the Celtic new year, and way back in the mists of time this was a celebration of the end of the harvest and the end of the summer. Some Celtic peoples believed that this day marked the time when the border between this world and the otherworld thinned, allowing the dead to reach through the veil between the worlds and touch the living. The living wore masks and costumes to immitate the dead in an attempt to make the spirits a little happier. They lit bonfires for cleansing rituals, and they even carved faces in veggies to ward off nastier spirits.

Of course, like most Celtic celebrations, the Christians had to come over and appropriate the holiday for their own purposes, and in this case, Samhain became All Hallows Eve in the Celtic realm since their celebration coincided with the Christian one. Since then, the original concept of Samhain has been bastardized into the ridiculousness we have now.

Anyway! There is some great Samhain music out there! This is one song I particularly enjoy, from Magica, and featuring the amazing keyboard work of 6 Fingers and Ana's wonderful voice. The lyrics are also beautiful.

On a more Halloweeny level, here is a great song by Manticora featuring gypsies and a fortune teller, and all that good stuff. This is my favourite song from their Black Circus Part 1 album.

And how about some Alice Cooper? He's creepy, though I know he isn't exactly metal. Here he is performing "Welcome to My Nightmare" - with the Muppets!

Enjoy, and if you live somewhere that celebrates Halloween, have a safe night!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

CD Review: Amberian Dawn's The End of Eden

Being a huge Amberian Dawn fan, I was highly anticipating the release of their third CD, End of Eden. I have no idea when the North American release is coming out and it isn't as yet available on Canada's iTunes store. I hope we get it sooner or later! I hate it when we get stuff so much later than the rest of the planet!

Around the time End of Eden came out and the first video from the new album was available for viewing, Amberian Dawn announced some significant changes in their line-up. Gone are bassist Tommi Kuri, who has been replaced by Jukka Koskinen; Emil Tobias Pohjalainen, who played guitar, has been replaced by Kimmo Korhonen; and drummer Joonas Pykälä-aho has been replaced by Heikki Saari.

The other big news around this album is the guest appearance by Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson for a much-touted keyboard "battle" between Jens and AD keyboardist and main man Tuomas Seppälä. Additionally, Finnish male opera singer Markus Nieminen also makes an appearance.

My first impression of this CD was that I didn't think it lived up to it's hype. However, after listening to it several more times, I have amended that opinion. While I think there are some songs on here that seem like the same old AD we've been used to for a while now, there are some impressive aspsects going on that took a much more concerted listen to fully appreciate.

This is a faster album with a more complex sound to it than River of Tuoni and Clouds of Northland Thunder. Heidi's voice remains perfect, but it also seems to have grown in range, too. There are more symphonic elements present in End of Eden, including some nice choir arrangements that add atmosphere. There is a much darker, Gothic kind of feel to this CD than I perceived were on the previous two albums, yet this is still symphonic power metal through and through. I think the compositions are also more complex, showing some growth on the part of the songwriters.

Definitely the highlights on this release are the entirely classical piece, where Markus Nieminen guests, "Virvatulen Laulu", and the Jens Johanssen track, "War in Heaven." "Virvatulen Laulu" is pure beauty & classical bliss; Heidi sounds her best here for sure and the composition is amazing even though I don't understand what is going on in the song because of the language barrier. "War in Heaven" is AD's longest and most epic song to date, and the keyboard battle is certainly nice to listen to. I'm very glad to see an epicly long song from AD at last; I've always thought they were epic-sounding but I have yearned for them to produce a long, epic song to show off their epicness. They do it here.

Another highlight is the song that was released as the CD's first single, and the first video to come from the album, "Arctica." Fast, intricate, and a treat to the ears.

My only real criticism gets back to song length. Again, apart from "War in Heaven", the songs are all comparatively short, and though well-composed, there is a touch of "Amberian Dawn formula" here. They seem to have a safety zone for themselves, and I found myself wishing they'd break out of that a bit with End of Eden. While I certainly do hear growth, I'm not sure I'm preceiving any big risks being taken, or any move towards more of an evolution of the band's overall sound.

Still, definitely a horns up from me, because this is a great album to listen to, and shit, I'd listen to Heidi sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and other annoying nursery songs over and over again because she is just so delightful to my ears!

Here is "Arctica" for you to listen to. Enjoy!

Ballads Away: What Kind of Love

Despite my negative reviews of Avantasia's two follow-up CDs to The Scarecrow, I really can say I liked The Scarecrow a lot. This is perhaps my favourite song from that release, and it features Amanda Somerville, who has collaborated not only with Avantasia but also quite a lot with Epica, and she is also Simone Simon's vocal coach. While her solo stuff isn't exactly my cup of tea, I do love her voice. She even filled in for Simone during a tour when Simone was ill, and she did a wicked job from what I can tell from YouTube footage I saw of her performances.

Here is "What Kind of Love." Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Podcast Episode #2: Metal Rant- Misconceptions about Guitar Shredders

You can download the podcast episode here.

One of the biggest things that really pisses me off in the world of metal is how people criticize metal guitar shredders! Guys like Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, and Rusty Cooley all get equally blasted for not having any “feeling” or “soul”, or that they play “mindless scales quickly” in their guitar playing. To these people who criticize them, unfortunately, they only think inside the box and don’t ever consider why these guitarists want to play in a different style! They aren’t always going to play the blues scale or the pentatonic scale just because so many other guitarists do! I don’t understand at all! I don’t really care if people think this way because opinions are like assholes and everyone has one, but the way people harp on about it is what drives me nuts!

Being a guitar player myself, I know that playing a solo by Yngwie Malmsteen is much more difficult than playing a solo with the blues or pentatonic scale due to the tremendous amount of speed that he plays his solos and also the melodic approach he puts towards his guitar playing! In this Youtube video here, you can see just how much skill and accuracy it takes to play “Far Beyond the Sun”:

It is difficult as hell and anyone who actually plays guitar knows this!

As much as I like shred guitar playing, I also do like a lot of blues driven solos as well. I am not that narrow-minded, so don’t think that I only like guitarists who play at 800 MPH! A good example of a great guitarist who complements both a bluesy and a shred approach is Ritchie Blackmore. In this Youtube video, you can see how he shows his skills as a guitarist:

Ritchie Blackmore is easily one of the greatest guitar players of all time. In fact, he is one of my all time favorite players as well! My own guitar playing is heavily influenced by him and he is indeed one of my idols and biggest inspirations! So the mix of both blues and shred really complement each other well with his style of playing!

One of the biggest misconceptions about shred guitarists is that “they have no feeling” cliché that everyone seems to misunderstand. When you play the same scales that the shred guitarists use on an acoustic instrument like a violin, viola, or a piano, it sounds like a classical masterpiece. A lot of people like to hear these scales performed on those instruments, so why is playing it on electric guitar any different? I don’t get it! It’s the same scales, same style for the most part (with of course added effects that the acoustic instruments were limited to), so why do people always say these great guitarists have “no feeling”?

I know I may be a little uptight here on this rant, but lately it has started to piss me off! The other day I was in a guitar store playing a guitar from the rack and I was playing a little lick from Sonata Arctica. If anyone is familiar with them, they are pretty fast so I was playing a pretty fast guitar part. Anyways, as I was playing this, some guy came up to me and told me that I needed to start “playing slower” and “to start expressing myself more”! I was really pissed off at this because first of all, I can play whatever the hell I want to play! He had no right to say that to me. If he likes to play blues scales all day, am I going to go up to him and start criticizing him on his playing? NO! That would be selfish of me to do that! Also, whenever I go to a Youtube video that features a guitar shredder, you have almost half of the comments on the videos saying this: “He has no feeling, look up Jimi Hendrix” or “Mindless shredder who has no expression”. Don’t believe me? Go to those videos and see those comments for yourself! I don’t get why people would waste their time looking up guitar players they don’t like! It really makes no sense to me!

To conclude this little rant of mine, I just want to say that just because these guitarists play a different STYLE than what the average guitarist plays does not mean that they have no artistic integrity or that they are “mindless scale playing guitarists”! These guys have a lot of talent. In my personal opinion, I think playing this style of guitar is the hardest to master! I like blues scales too, but I don’t say that they “play too slow” or that they “need to play more notes”. That would be very hypocritical of me! I respect all good guitar playing no matter what the style is! I know everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but when some guy tells you in a guitar store that I have “no feeling”, I am bound to get a little pissed off! So my advice is to keep an open mind and understand that everyone plays different styles at different speeds and that all of these genres and styles should be well respected!

Kiuas singer Ilja Jalkanen quits!

If you have read some of my posts, like this one, you would know that I am a big fan of Kiuas! Today, Ilja Jalkanen just announced that he quit Kiuas because of the fact that "My heart is not in heavy metal anymore, and a great band like Kiuas deserves a singer completely dedicated to the music." I am very devistated by this because they were a power metal band on the rise in Finland and they were just starting to get big with him in the band! They were up and coming and this news is just hard to hear because his vocals were vastly improving on every album! I hope Kiuas finds a good replacement because it is hard to find a unique singer nowadays. Kiuas is a great band, but Ilja's vocals gave them a sound that no other power metal band had! Sure for some people, his unique voice was hard to adjust too and some just never liked his voice, but Ilja gave Kiuas an edge! The four albums of great music with Ilja will never be forgotten! I wish Ilja and Kiuas the best!

You can read the main article here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some humor: Metal bands in 10 seconds!

Some friends of mine were showing me videos today that were pretty clever and extremely hilarious! Basically, these videos have sliced audio clips from various songs of one band in particular and what they would do is cut out reoccurring themes or lyrics that would be overused as part of their music and repeated them! It is really funny! Here are some really good ones:

Nightwish in 10 seconds:

The word "child" seems to be a popular lyric overused by Tuomas! XD

Here is probably my favorite one!:

Dragonforce must really be "So far away!" LOL

Here is Dream Theater in 10 seconds!:

Basically showing their skills in a unique way! ;)

Here is Metallica in 10 seconds:

This basically shows their love for the E Chord! XD

And finally here is Meshuggah in "less than 10 seconds" lol:


It is all very entertaining for sure! There are more "10 second" videos on Youtube out there too! I hope you enjoyed it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Heavy Metal FTW! Podcast Episode #1

Since I am going into audio recording and sound engineering as a future career, I have decided to take these new skills to a new level and create a podcast on this blog site! I am not going to do a podcast for every blog post of course, but certain posts I will do and I will post the transcript on the blog posts. The first episode is basically the review I did of Tarja's What Lies Beneath. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you guys think of it! You can also read the original review here.

Click to listen and/or download the episode here!

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the songs! The rights of the songs used in the mp3 respectfully go to Tarja Turunen, Universal Records, Vertigo Records, and The End Records. This is for non-profit and creative fun use!
Let me know if the link does not work for whatever reason! Enjoy everyone! :D

Sunday, October 24, 2010

CD Review: Linkin Park's "A Thousand Suns"

It really irritates me when a band I love and have a long history with ups and changes their musical direction to something I'm not stoked on, thereby challenging my loyalty to them. I like to think of myself as a loyal person, so when something disappoints me, I feel torn. Such is the case with this newest effort by Linkin Park, A Thousand Suns.

I had a bad feeling about this CD when I wrote this post about their song "The Catalyst" but was more optimisic when I heard "Wretches and Kings." Now that I have heard the entire release, all I can say

My first reaction when hearing the album for the first time was "where are the guitars?" Indeed, it seems this rather essential instrument is taking a back seat in the new dancier, electronic musical direction this band is taking.

There is way more emphasis on keyboards, which is nice, and I do like the political lyrical themes, which I thought was a strength of their last CD, Minutes to Midnight. Mike Shinoda also contributes more vocals than before, which is also OK; I love that guy. But unfortunately, that also means more hip-hop stuff, too. The hip-hip stuff on previous albums was completely fine with me, because there was a balance of that genre's elements and the angst and edge of metal. It worked for me. But now the focus seems to be more on the hip-hop beats and sounds combined with very irritating sound effects that, if I heard them in a club, would make me head to the nearest exit as fast as I could so I could fight off the inevitable migraine.

The clubbishness of this album is really off-putting for someone not into that kind of scene at all. There are songs on here that, even on low volume, give me a headache. "When They Come for Me" is one of them. There are also quite a few insipid tracks on here that I have no idea what these guys were thinking of when they made the decision to put them on the CD. Case in point, "Robot Boy" and "Jornada del Muerto." "Waiting for the End" is another.

I hate to say it, but there are more bad tracks on this album than there are good ones. Most of the songs are groaners. In fact, I can only honestly say that I like two whole songs here, the aforementioned "Wretches and Kings" and a nice, slower piece called "Iridescent." In the case of "Wretches and Kings," it does have some of those annoying sound effects I was mentioning, but it's the song most reminiscent of "old" LP. "Iridescent" sounds like something from Minutes to Midnight, which isn't a bad thing, since I did enjoy that album even though a lot of people did not.

And what happened to Chester Bennington's harsh vocals is a mystery to me. They only appear in "Blackout" and "Wretches and Kings." I miss them. His clean vocals are amazing as always, however.

Also, what is up with the cover? What is that? A dove? What? It also gives me a headache!

Altogether, a frustrating listen. Sorry, LP, but this is a horns down for me. /m\

CD Review: Tarja's "What Lies Beneath"

All righty, it's my turn to weigh in on Tarja's new release. I have a slightly different take on What Lies Beneath, but I am not a musician like Eric is, so I usually have different takes on most of the music we have in common.

First of all, let me say, I had one hell of a time actually getting this CD into my hot little hands. I ordered it from The End Records in the States and it took over 4 weeks to get to me. I could have ordered it from Amazon Canada, but at the time the pre-order became available on The End Records, Amazon didn't have its act together and the CD wasn't available from them for several days after I decided to go with TER. Also, the price wasn't as good, and here in BC we now have an extra sales tax that would have added more to the price. The US exchange rate, however, is around par, which is excellent, so it was going to be less expensive for me to get the CD from TER instead of from a Canadian vendor. BIG MISTAKE. Given how long it took for the CD to arrive here, I should have spent the money and gotten it from Amazon because I would have had it in one week as opposed to 4.

Anyway, now that I do have the CD and have had ample time to listen to it, let's get down to what I think about it.

To put it succinctly, I love it.

As Eric said, it has its weaknesses. I think "Until My Last Breath" is probably the most commercial track and probably the weakest - which isn't to say I don't like it, but it's not quite up there with many other songs I can mention. I also can't quite get behind "Montañas de Silencio;" while her voice sounds amazing here, it's just not my cup of tea. And "Little Lies" doesn't quite enthrall me, though I appreciate its heaviness.

The rest of this album, though, is beautiful, and the beauty is what captures my interest and heart here. The harmonies, symphonic elements, and the obvious increased versatility and power of Tarja's voice make this CD so amazing. This release also shows off so much more of Tarja's heart and soul, and so much more of her talent, than My Winter Storm did. That album, to my ear, had an empty feeling to it and seemed to be missing complexity, variety, and the soul of Tarja. WLB has all that in it. Lyrically, this is a strong album, and I had a good feeling about this element when I heard Falling Awake for the first time. I respectfully disagree with Eric's opinion about this song; I love it because it's about empowerment and I think, given what we know Tarja's been through in the past five years, that this song marks a real turning point in her ability to express raw emotions and to show us the healing process she's been through since the whole Nightwish debacle. "Falling Awake" may not be especially complex musically, but I identify with what is being expressed by Tarja here, and for that reason it's one of my favourites on the album.

Other highlights for me are "Anteroom of Death" which I think was an awesome choice for the first song; it's progressive, it's heavy, I love the imagery it evokes, and I love that van Canto makes an appearance in it. I also love "Underneath", "In for a Kill", and I really do love "I Feel Immortal." One song I find especially evocative is "Naiad", which appears on the bonus disc. This is such a beautiful, romantic song that I can just imagine myself dancing to with some lovely man under a glitter ball in the dark. If you think that sounds cheesy, tough tiddlywinks. But if I ever get married again, this will be the first dance song - and that's saying a lot since I hate weddings, I hate dancing, and I hate the concept of the first dance - and I will even consent to a dancing lesson or two so I can do this justice! So there!

In general, I really admire the variety of sounds and styles Tarja plays with here. If this is the new musical direction she is taking, then bring it on, because it's awesome, and it outshines MWS by a million light years.

All that being said, I do have some complaints (this is me, after all). First of all, we all know of the confusion pre-release about the various versions of the album and some of the songs, who was getting what artwork, and all that. Yeah, I'm a little pissy about that still, actually, especially because the version of "Falling Awake", which features a guitar solo by Joe Satriani, isn't as good as this version I found on another site with a different solo. The Satriani solo seems like it's more of an afterthought and that it's trying to hard to stand out. I also prefer the GAS video version of "I Feel Immortal." The version on my CD is rather different, where some of the keyboard melodies have been left out or re-done, and I don't find it as effective as the GAS video version.

Additionally, I am not impressed at all with the el-cheapo digipack packaging this CD set came in! Basically, we have no spine here and two sleeves. The CDs are tucked into the sleeves, one with the booklet itself. I have plenty of other digipacks that have a hard plastic CD holder in them, which makes the product more durable and gives me a little more confidence that my CDs are being protected when they get shuffled around or when I move, or whatever. I love the album art a lot, but this digipack sucks.

I am super happy for Tarja and what she's accomplished here, and I am very excited about her future because she has it made, people! I hope she announces some North American tour dates soon, because I WILL go out of my way to travel to Vancouver or Calgary to see her live!

Horns up! \m/

The Awesome Find of a Lifetime!

I had the opportunity to go to Cow-town, AKA Calgary for a long weekend last weekend, as part of a blogger meet-up a friend of mine hosted. It was an awesome time! No one there was a metal head, and no one there had heard of any of the bands I listen to. On the other hand, I'd never heard any of the bands the others listened to, either! This is a group not into mainstream music at all, though, and I found I had a lot of things in common them: we all can't stand main stream crap, we had similar complaints about the music industry, me and another music lover who is a total music geek agreed that nu metal sucks ass, and Nickelback was reguarly mocked with great hilarity. I came away feeling not so out of place as the only metal head there, and validated that I'm not the only one out there who has turned to alternative genres of music because the main stream just isn't cutting it. That all made me very happy.

What also made me happy was the accidental discovery of a t-shirt store in the Kensington area that sold exclusively heavy metal t-shirts and some classic rock t-shirts. This place is called Charisma and if you are ever in Calgary, I highly recommend you seek this place out because it was quite the experience.

As you can see, the owners do not look like anything you'd expect to find in a shop like this. In fact, when I walked in, all I saw near the entrance was Slipknot merchandise so I almost didn't want to go in any further. But I did, and I was completely bowled over. It was floor to ceiling metal t-shirts, and holy shit, if he didn't have shirts from bands like Wintersun, Kiuas, Korpiklani, Eluvetie, Ensiferum, etc. etc. The owner, an East Idian gentleman named Simon, asked if I was looking for something in particular, and I reluctantly said, "Do you have any Nightwish shirts." Without any hesitation whatsoever, he said, "Yes." I thought he was joking.

The joke was on me, over on a rack, there was an admirable selection of NW t-shirts, some of them going back to Oceanborn. I squealed with delight! My friends were then treated to me pretty much going crazy over t-shirts. I tried on several NW shirts, agonizing over the choices. One I really wanted didn't come in my size, and one I didn't like the colours on. Another I really wanted only came in child sizes. The DPP ones were great, but at the very back of the selection, I hit gold: an Oceanborn-era t-shirt, long sleeved, with the lyrics to "Sacrament of Wilderness" on the back and the graphic from the "Stargazers" page of the OB booklet on the front. I also wasn't stoked about these colours, but man, I just HAD to have this shirt! And it fucking fit!

Wicked, eh? But it doesn't end there! After listing off to Simon a bunch of bands (Epica, Leaves' Eyes, Sabaton, Amberian Dawn) only to have him say, no he didn't have any of them in stock, I did spy a bunch of Sonata Arctica t-shirts! Alas, there wasn't as much of a selection, with the the shirts all being from Days of Grays or Unia, but I did find one I liked and, so, I splurged!

The price was outrageous (both shirts cost me $95 total) but as Simon explained, they are both European imports from Germany and the UK. But I gladly counted out my cash to the guy, because, in the case of the NW shirt, this isn't something I'm going to be able to easily find anywhere at all. I have to be careful with them though; as European imports, they are not made from pre-shrunk cotton, so they need to be cold water washed on the gentle cycle and hung to dry. Which is fine. But seriously, I almost want to frame them and put them up in my living room instead of wearing them!

Friday, October 22, 2010

CD Review: Tarja's What Lies Beneath (Eric's Version)

Listen to the Podcast Episode of this review here.

Since Tarja's departure from Nightwish, Finland's most popular female singer has been fully engaged in her own solo music career. Beginning with Henkays Ikuisuudesta (an album with Tarja singing Christmas songs) and followed by her first full-length album My Winter Storm, Tarja releases her latest album in 2010 entitled What Lies Beneath. Prior to the release of her new album, has Tarja truly been able to capture her former glory from her former band? Well, from what I had heard up to that point in time, not that much! Of course, this happens to a lot of musicians who break away from their former bands, especially when they first start off. Regardless, her voice is still very strong and she is improving every step of the way!

What set Nightwish apart from other female-fronted metal bands was this: not only did they have perhaps the greatest and most unique (in the 90's especially) female metal vocalist of all-time, but they also had a truly unique and inspired group of musicians that made the music possible. Sure, you could argue with me that Nightwish may not be as "fast" or "brutal" as other bands in the metal community, but their uniqueness is what gave them their edge from other metal bands. The problem with My Winter Storm was that it lacked that musicality and good songwriting quality that Nightwish (Tuomas) possessed. I realize that Tarja does not want to sound like Nightwish and comparing the two isn't fair, but some fans of old Nightwish are going to want something better than what has been brought to the table so far. There was hardly anything from My Winter Storm that was a slight bit memorable because it seemed so boring and dull to listen to. Could What Lies Beneath be any different?

In the same fashion as My Winter Storm, Tarja hired some of the most skilled metal and rock musicians around in order to make her project work. They definitely give her some much needed notoriety and recognition, plus their input to her work has really paid dividends for her! While My Winter Storm had only a few guest musicians, What Lies Beneath has many more acts on this release. Guests include world famous guitar virtuoso Joey Satriani, All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte, members from German a capella metal band Van Canto, Living Color drummer Will SHIT! I don't know how Tarja was able to pull this off, but she sure did! Of course, with this kind of pro talent on board, what can we truly expect? Will there be fist pumping metal action, or more of the same from the last album? Since I heard the Deluxe Edition, I am going to review each song off of that, including the European released single "I Feel Immortal". If you want to read my rant on the marketing of What Lies Beneath, click here. Well let's dive into my review of What Lies Beneath:

1. "Anteroom of Death": Without a doubt, the greatest song of Tarja's solo career! A great song and an awesome way to start the album! With the help of a capella metal band Van Canto who makes incredible harmonies in the piece, and with the creative "broadway-esque" style of songwriting displayed here, this is truly one song that stands out from the rest. The way the keyboard works in the song is just brilliant as well. This song does take a while for a casual listener to get used to at first primarily because of it's unique blend of musical styles meshed into one. But once you get the feel for it, it is a great track. But now, can the rest of the album be like this? Well, we will find out! (4.5/5)

2. "Until My Last Breath": Out of all of the songs on the album, this is by far the most radio friendly song she has. For the most part, it is a catchy song and while it appears to be a great karaoke sing along track, it loses it's staying power after a while. Recommended for fans who like instant catchy pop rock/metal music, but fans of more sophisticated metal songs may be turned off by this one. Or course, this song WAS designed to be a hit single. Listen at your own risk! (3/5)

3. "Dark Star": A much darker song in contrast to what she has done before. Taking it's roots from American metal along with Phil Labonte doing guest vocals, it no doubt has the ingredients to help produce a pulsing song. The song actually flows very well and while it is dark, it has an interesting contrast between radio friendly rock and dark music. So the better of both worlds here. (3.5/5)

4. "Underneath": The album's first ballad and my favorite ballad on this release. Tarja sounds very emotional and the instruments really help illuminate the feel of the music. I can honestly say that this is easily her best ballad to date without a doubt. It never lacks power and the guitar solo is very nice. (4/5)

5. "Little Lies": Like "Dark Star", this is another pulsing "American" styled metal song. The opening palm-muted guitar riff reminds me of something a metalcore band would do during a breakdown. Tarja sure is experimenting here. The song has a decent flow and it would really impress fans of metalcore and nu-metal, but the detuned guitar riffs are a bit tedious to me and it isn't as impressive as needed to be. (2.5/5)

6. "Rivers of Lust": Another ballad which features no metal instruments, but that of acoustic instrumentation and epic choirs. The listener is treated to Tarja's own style of mixing new age, classical, opera, and theater all into one in order to create this unique piece of music. Another emotional and heartfelt song. (3.5/5)

7. "In For A Kill": Another pulsing metal song. What's funny is that this song title sounds like it could be the next James Bond movie! Maybe Tarja will sing in the next movie! That would be pretty cool, but unlikely at this point. While not the strongest song on the album, the orchestra gives the song some serious justice here and the chorus is fun and powerful with Tarja chanting and shouting "In For A Kill"! (3.5/5)

8. "Montañas De Silencio": This was a wasted track. Sorry Tarja, but you really could have left this one out. Tarja sounds pretty as usual, but it is just a boring track overall and I think it is lackluster compared to the other two ballads so far. Definately skipable. (2/5)

9. "Falling Awake": The other hit single on this album. Like "Until My Last Breath", it is a little too radio friendly for my taste. Though I find this song pretty dull overall, the one thing that makes this song stand out however are Joey Satriani's guitar solos. The first solo after the second chorus and breakdown is amazing. Though not playing to his "full" capability, he makes the listener understand why he is one of the greats. The second solo after the last chorus, though not as impressive, still ends on a very impressive note with a very cool dive bomb. Without his guitar solos, this would have been a 2.5/5 from me, but he has elevated it some. (3/5)

10. "The Archive of Lost Dreams": Another ballad? Seriously?? Tarja, I love your voice in ballads, but I would like to hear more metal songs from you! Not only is this another ballad, but it is a boring one too. It does have a neat little piano solo section from Tarja, but this would be another song I would probably skip over as well. (2.5/5)

11. "Crimson Deep": Easily the most progressive song on the album. Cool, Tarja ventures into progressive metal now! Woo hoo! Anyways, the riffs, melodies, and orchestral arrangements are all very well put together in this song. The lyrics are poetic and very haunting too. Trust me, this is no "Ghost Love Score" or "Fantasmic", but this long song is easily the best long song put together by Tarja in her solo career. The dramatic nature of her voice really speaks loudly for this song as it makes it sound very epic and powerful. Will Calhoun's drumming at the end is also very impressive! Tarja, we need more like this! (4/5)

Disk 2:

Disk two of the Deluxe Edition:

1. "We Are": Though the song starts out very nice and pretty, it gets VERY repetitive and the song loses steam immediately. This goes without saying, but this is not a very good song in comparison to some of the counterparts on the main disk. Very plain is the word to describe this song with too many nu-metal influences. The breakdown section is very interesting, so I have to give credit where it is due. (2.5/5)

2. "Najad": You guessed it, ANOTHER BALLAD! :p I will admit that the lyrics are touching in this song, even though it is not the best ballad Tarja has written. The song musically has very strong points, but at times is a little dull and can drag, but it isn't bad and I recommend this one if you like the majority of Tarja's ballads. (3/5)

3. "Still of the Night" (aka how to rape an 80s hair metal song): *Facepalm* WHY TARJA, WHY???? WHY COVER WHITESNAKE TARJA!?!! Sorry, I just had to let that one out! XD But in all seriousness, this is just one example of a poor song choice to cover. Playing the guitars a whole octave lower than the original makes it sound ridiculous, and Tarja's voice is VERY unfitting. The lyrics are basically about men having their way with women. Hearing Tarja sing it is just awkward as hell! The only redeeming factor is the bombastic outro, but even then it still is very overdone. First "Poison", then "Smells Like Teen Spirit", now this???? Please cover songs that are more of YOUR style Tarja! Thank you! (1.5/5)

"I Feel Immortal": The one song that did not get released in America happens to be yet another ballad. This song was a pretty big hit on the German and European charts, so I wonder about why they did not want to include this song with the rest. Anyways, this is in my opinion the worst ballad Tarja composed for What Lies Beneath. So the fact that it did not come included in the North American version does not make me feel bad at all. It's a bland and boring ballad. (2/5)

So that is my song by song review of What Lies Beneath. Here are my overall thoughts:


  • Surprisingly unique, experimental, and creative music from Tarja.
  • Great variety of styles in music.
  • Musicmanship is much better than on My Winter Storm.
  • Noticeable improvement in Tarja's songwriting skills.
  • Heart filled lyrics throughout.
  • Guest musicians make this album way better.


  • Too many ballads.
  • Some very boring and uninteresting songs.
  • The album seemed too overproduced at times.
  • The variety of styles can confuse the listener into what to look for here.
  • Poor songs on the bonus disk.

As a follow-up to My Winter Storm, this is a HUGE improvement to that. What Lies Beneath takes Tarja's career to a new level, proving that she too can write very well written music as she was able to get from Nightwish when she had success with them. This is a step in the right direction for her which is very exciting to see that she is finally coming into her own as a solo artist. All of the guest musicians really did a great job contributing and Tarja is now using her voice toward the music much better than what we have heard before. A criticism I have here is that of the confusion of what audience she wants to draw in. Fans of classical, heavy metal, top 40, rock, and even new age can find many reasons to enjoy this album with a doubt in my mind. For metal purists though, I would listen at your own risk because if you want fast upbeat power metal action much to what Nightwish provided with her, this is not it, and that goes for her first album too. But keep an open mind because I think Tarja can really win a lot of new fans over with this release and I truly believe that she found a unique sound and style for herself in a genre that has gotten a little over saturated in recent years. I recommend a couple of things on the next album for Tarja: more fast songs and less ballads. I am not saying ballads are bad, but too many on a metal album can really throw off the listener if someone is expecting more metal songs. Also, I think that Tarja should cut down on some of the radio friendly singles, but that is asking a lot since she is signed to a major record label like Universal so that is to be expected. Nonetheless, we can finally get an album that can truly complement her voice well! This album is a horns up from me! \m/ It isn't a masterpiece album, but there is indeed a lot to enjoy here as well! Fans of Tarja and Nightwish are sure to be satisfied with this release!

Overall rating: 3.5/5

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Vid from Unsun: Home

Sorry for the lack of posting recently; both Eric & I have been crazy busy with work, school, and life in general. I do have some posts planned for when I can squeeze in the time to write them, but in the meantime here is Unsun's new video, "Home." I actually think it's a very cool-looking video, but I am undecided about how I feel about the song at the moment. I kind of have a soft spot for this band - I have no idea why - even though their first album was kind of mediocre for the standards of the Gothic metal genre.

Anyway, take a look for yourself and see what you think!