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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Within Temptation's "Fire and Ice" video

Within Temptation's new video comes from their most recent album "The Unforgiving". The video features live footage and video footage shot especially for visuals used in The Unforgiving Tour.

I must admit I learned to appreciate this song. But the video is big disappointment for me. I really think angels are so overused, overrated and cheesy in videos, not only in the case of Within Temptation. So yes I can say, I don't like the video at all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CanuckFan's Best of 2011

It's that time of year!  Here it goes.  Feel free to add any of your own lists in the comments.

Top 11 Albums of 2011 (this was very tough and the list went through several drafts before I got to where I was comfortable with it):

11. The Metamorphosis Melody - Midnattsol
10. Fall from Grace - Borealis
9. The Corruption of Mercy - Sarah Jezebel Deva
8. The Writ of Sword - Crimfall
7. Terra Incognita - Coronatus
6. Slovo - Arkona
5. Meredead - Leaves' Eyes
4. The Unforgiving - Within Temptation
3. The Awakening of Gaia - Crysalys
2. Eirwen - Dama
1. Imaginaerum - Nightwish

(honourable mentions: Imperia's Secret Garden and Visions of Atlantis's Delta)

Top 11 New Finds of 2011 (in no particular order):

1. Dama
2. Arkona
3. Echoterra
4. Arven
5. Amaranthe
6. Draconian
7. Liv Moon
8. Where Angels Fall
9. Weeping Silence
10. Crysalys
11. Akoma

Best ballads of 2011 (in no particular order):

1. "Rainy Roads" - Dama
2. "Let Down" - Imperia
3. "Turn Loose the Mermaids" - Nightwish
4. "Beyond Horizon - The Poem Part II" - Visions of Atlantis
5. "Slow, Love, Slow" - Nightwish
6. "My Dear Friend" - Arven
7. "Amaranthine" - Amaranthe (well, it's kinda ballady...isn't it?)
8. "Goodbye" - Midnattsol
9. "Scarlet Thoughts in Room" - Dama
10. "Where is the Edge" - Within Temptation
11. ???

Best Covers of 2011 (in no particular order):

1. "Live to Tell" - Dama
2. "Maria Magdalena" - Visions of Atlantis
3. "Zombie" - Sarah Jezebel Deva
4. "Primo Victoria" - Van Canto
5. "To France" - Leaves' Eyes
6. "Nemo" - Spythriller

I couldn't think of 11. top 11 most played songs of 2011:

1. "Storytime" - Nightwish
2. "Rainy Roads" - Dama
3. "Live to Tell" - Dama
4. "Sleeping Sun" - Nightwish
5. "Faster" - Within Temptation
6. "Sinead" - Within Temptation
7. "The House of the Rising Sun" - The Animals (don't ask)
8. "Wildfire Season" - Crimfall
9. "Sacrament of Wilderness" - Nightwish
10. "Let Down" - Imperia
11. "Rain" - Dawn of Destiny top 11 most played bands of 2011:

1. Nightwish 
2. Dama
3. Leaves' Eyes
4. The Decemberists (yes, I realize they're not metal, but they are still awesome)
5. Within Temptation
6. Crimfall
7. Dawn of Destiny
8. Tarja
9. Where Angels Fall
10. Loreena McKennitt (see #4)
11. Amaranthe

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great Finds

This last week has been great in terms of discovering new bands.  I'm lucky to write for two web zines so I not only find out a lot from my fellow writers, but I also have access to promo copies of new albums, which is a lovely bonus.

Band #1 I've discovered recently is Arven, and their debut album Music of Light.  I just did a review of it for Sonic Cathedral and you can read it here. This almost all-girl band (the only male is the drummer) has some great material, and I totally recommend them if you like melodic, sort of medieval-y, sort of folky metal with great lyrics and catchy songs.

Another band I got really excited about is Weeping Silence.  Hailing from Malta, this Gothic sextet is really, really good.  I reviewed their most recent offering, Theatre of Life on Black Wind Metal, here.  I love Gothic metal and this album is a great example of what this genre is really about, which is not poppy, watered down crap.  WS is currently working on another album due out in 2012.  Can't wait!

From Greece, we have Meden Agan.  This is impressive stuff - symphonic power metal with a real opera singer, not a popera singer.  It's moody, it's bombastic, it's rich - it's fantastic stuff.  Singer Iliana, who is, like, 21, is an amazing vocalist with pipes along the lines of Chiara Malvestiti of Crysalys: powerful classical soprano sound that is just beautiful.  I highly recommend checking them out.  You can read a review of their album Erevos Aenaon on Sonic Cathedral here, written by my colleague Doctor T.

Narwhal Tusk is from Russia.  I'm in the process of tracking down a copy of their CD, but they do have four songs available for free download on their Reverbnation page.  I love what I've heard so far and look forward to hearing more.

That's all for now!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lacuna Coil's New Song, "Kill the Light"

This just hit the interwebs today.  It's OK.  I like Cristina's slightly more aggressive side in this, and the lyrics are all right.  It's kinda bouncy.  I think I like it better than "Trip the Darkness."

See for yourself!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Metallica's "Just A Bullet Away" thoughts and reaction

To be honest, I hesitated to listen to this track mainly due to the fact that their recent debacle Lulu was such an epic disaster! The first thing that caught me was the aggressiveness of this track. "Just A Bullet Away" really sounds like something Metallica would have wrote on Master of Puppets or ...And Justice For All, however it isn't quite up to par with any songs off those albums. It is basically a mid tempo thrash song with a clean bridge section reminiscent of "Master of Puppets". The guitar work is very thrashy at times, and the melodic solo during the bridge section is pretty impressive I must say. Overall, the song isn't super incredible but it is a hell of a lot better than that other crap they put out a month ago! I'd say it's a decent Metallica song. It's worth listening to if you are actually still a fan of the band after Lulu.

More than likely, I will review the entire EP Beyond Magnetic soon once I hear the other three tracks off of it. A recommended listen for a bit of 80's Metallica nostalgia.

2012 Releases

The spring of 2012 is going to be so excellent for me because a lot of my favourite bands are coming out with new stuff.  I thought I'd compile a list.  If you have any others you'd like to add, just leave a comment!

Nightwish - Imaginaerum (well, sort of: the North American release date is Jan. 10 but I think a lot of fans have already heard it)
Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline: Jan. 23 (I just hope it's decent...)
Xandria - Neverworld's End: Feb. 27
Amberian Dawn - Circus Black: Feb. 29
Epica - Requiem for the Indifferent: March 9

Announced but no dates as of yet:

Delain - We Are the Others (I'm assuming this is coming out in March-ish since they embark on a headlining tour in April)
Lyriel - something to be released in February
Sabaton - Carolus Rex
Liv Krisine - Libertine

Rumoured and/or teasing fans on Facebook:

Dawn of Destiny
Where Angels Fall

Others I'm not overly interested in but have dates others might be interested in:

Eluveitie - February 10

Some News

1. "Requiem for the Indifferent" is the title of  Epica's fifth full-length album . According to the band: "This title refers to the end of an era. As we are all connected; the universe, earth, nature, animals and human beings, this period in time will be the prelude to the end for those who still don't want to, or simply won't see it. 'A Requiem For The Indifferent', but also a possibility for a new beginning with great new chances!" The album will be out on March 9, 2012.

2. Another Dutch metal band Delain revealed the title of their third album. "We Are the Others" is also a song from the album, which will be out in spring.

3. Today, The Helsinki district court dropped all charges and compensation demands related to the Nightwish book. In other words, Marcelo Cabuli lost the lawsuit against publisher and author of the Nightwish's official biography. Finnish speakers can read more about it here. For the rest of us, here is the translation of the article.

4. Within Temptation decided to make a full length film about the concept of ''The Unforgiving". Since the comic does appeal to a lot of people and the short films were received very well the film should be out within next few years.

5. Couple of days ago, Lacuna Coil released "Trip the Darkness" music video. The single is from their upcoming album "Dark Adrenaline" due to be out January 23.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

CD Review: "Imaginaerum" by Nightwish

 Now it’s my turn to write my thoughts about Imaginaerum. I must say I was among those, who had no problem to accept Anette as new lead vocalist.  This time I was looking forward to listening to Imaginaerum even more. Why? I liked the idea of the album and I was eager to hear Anette’s progress. The reviews highlighted Anette’s vocal performance a lot which was a good sign for me. Not that I had doubts but well. 

Imaginaerum is, as Tuomas calls it, a place where your imagination is being cured. And your imagination will be cured by a great diversity which this album offers. You’ll find folk song, jazz song, epic song, oriental song and many more.

 When I heard the first single Storytime for the first time my thoughts were just "wow." I still think this is one  of their best singles so far. And now happens something I thought  won’t ever happen. I actually prefer radio edit over album version. The bridge doesn’t fit the song at all, IMO. Also for the first time ever a children's choir is presented. 
Slow, Love, Slow is one of the songs I was curious about. I have nothing against jazz in general but I had no idea what to expect from this one. I admit I listened to the samples and after listening to the whole song it ended up on my favourite ones list. The others  are Scaretale, Rest Calm, Turn Loose The Mermaids, Last Ride of the Day and Song of Myself.
I would love to point out Anette‘s vocals on Scaretale. She just sounds great. She can be an evil witch and in a next minute a seductive singer singing in 1930’s nightclub. I consider Turn Loose the Mermaids my favourite ballad in general. I like Anette's warm, low vocals. Although, the "western" instrumental part with whistling sounded strange at first, I learned to appreciate it. Rest Calm is another favourite of mine. I like the sudden change from heaviness to softness and the combination of Anette and children's choir works great. Last Ride of the Day has catchy chorus and nice fast tempo. My only concern about this song is, if they ever play it live (pretty please yes!) will Anette sound at least decent? I hope so. Song of Myself an epic song with long dragging poem. I must admit I do skip the poem more often than actually listening to it. Yet it is nice to be able to hear Anette’s son, Marco’s twin sons or Tuomas‘ parents and many more recite the poem. I think this song is one of those you have to listen couple of more times to understand why the poem is included.   

Well now the list of  not so favourite ones  but still good songs. I really don’t think they are bad at all. It just took me some time to appreciate them. Arabesque  is the one I skip all the time. It was composed only because of the film and honestly I don’t care for that song at all. Ghost River is the one I had to force myself to listen to again. I like the dialogue between Anette and Marco. Also "We will go down we will drown drown, deeper down" sung by children's choir is my favourite part from the whole song. Nice dancy song I Want My Tears Back will be played live so I’ll see if it plays a trick on me. Taikatalvi, Birdie song and Imaginaerum are nice ones again and I expect them to grow on me later.

All in all I don’t dare to call Imaginaerum Nightwish’s best album. Although I dare to say it is miles ahead of Dark Passion Play. You have to listen to the album more than just once, though. I personally did it dozens of times.  Another thing that little bit bothers me are the bridges on Last Ride of the Day and Storytime. They seem to me so out of the place. 
But never mind. Lets put it straight again. I love the album much more than Dark Passion Play. I love Anette vocals. Also the booklet seems better to me. Generally, I really am looking forward to seeing them live one day. (Still waiting for the UK's dates to be announced!) AND I hope to see the film this spring. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New Amberian Dawn!

Exciting news if you're a fan of Finnish symphonic metallers Amberian Dawn: their next album will be released February 29, and it's called Circus Black.  It will have a couple of special guests, too: Jens Johansson of Stratovarius and Timo Kotipelto, also of Stratovarius.

The album artwork has also been revealed.

Call me crazy, but does this not remind you of some other Finnish band's recent album art?

Whatever the case, I'm looking forward to the album because I love this band!

The track listing is as follows:

01. Circus Black (3:49)
02. Cold Kiss (feat. Timo Kotipelto) (3:31)
03. Crimson Flower (feat. Jens Johansson) (4:25)
04. Charnel's Ball (4:27)
05. Fight (3:21)
06. Letter (4:31)
07. I Share With You This Dream (3:37)
08. Rivalry Between Good and Evil (instrumental) (4:00)
09. Guardian (5:09)
10. Lily of the Moon (4:12)

The music was written by mainman Tuomas Seppälä and the lyrics were written by lead singer, Heidi Parviainen.

I just hope I don't have to wait for it forever to become available in North America.  End of Eden is still not readily available here, but I did order a copy of it from AD's Facebook offer, which included a T-shirt.   I hope that arrives in a timely manner!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CD Review: Nightwish's Imaginaerum (Eric's Version)

Ah yes, the much anticipated album of the year is finally out. Nightwish releases their seventh studio album Imaginaerum, the same name by which the movie will be named after. Knowing this album is based around a movie, the music is going to be basically a film score with Nightwish playing over it. And of course as expected, the hype surrounding this album is so out of this world and many wonder if this will meet all the expectations.

As mentioned on my Dark Passion Play review, I felt that their new vocalist Anette Olzon seemed out of place in the music and the range of the vocal melodies were too high in pitch for her. As of late, Anette hired a vocal coach to help with some of these issues she had from the previous album. Will it pay off? I really admire her courage and desire to improve. Of course, there will never be a vocalist like Tarja Turunen again in Nightwish. She was so unique and really brought out the essence and beauty of Tuomas’ music. Despite that, I am willing to accept Anette as their vocalist and see what she can offer on this album.

With all of these expectations and hype, will Imaginaerum live up to it? Well let’s dive right into my song by song review of the new Nightwish album!

1. “Taikatalvi“: (4/5) The intro track. Starts off with a toy box playing a melody with Marco singing in Finnish. He sounds great as he usually does. I wish I knew Finnish though. I think the song gets very beautiful when the flute and the string instruments come in. A very good intro track.

2. “Storytime”: (4/5) The first single of the album. A very catchy and upbeat song with a very strong orchestral section in the middle. It also features a children‘s choir, one of the elements that is unique about this album. I will admit that this is a “safe” Nightwish song so to say with everything that you most likely will hear by this band, but it does a good job in representing the album as a whole.

3. “Ghost River”: (4/5) The song starts off with a great guitar riff. Reminds me of Van Halen, but this is of no surprise since Emppu plays in an 80’s throwback band (Brother Firetribe). Marco sounds very dark and cynical in the song, especially in the pre-chorus sections. The children’s choir singing part of the chorus was very nice. A very good song.

4. “Slow, Love, Slow”: (4.5/5) This is the most unique song Nightwish has ever composed. It is a jazz song. Yes, a jazz song made by Nightwish! Out of all the songs I heard with Anette singing in it, this has to be perhaps the best and most versatile vocal performance in her career with Nightwish. Her voice fits the mood of the song so well. I also love Emppu’s solo in this song as well. It is unorthodox for him to come up with such a bluesy solo, but it sounds so good and I rate this solo one of the best in his career with Nightwish. No other band in their genre would dare to reach these territories. Just brilliant.

5. “I Want My Tears Back”: (4/5) This song is a bit more structured, much like “Storytime” and could easily be another single from this album. The chorus is extremely epic and well written with Marco and Anette giving great vocal performances. The highlight of this song is Troy Donockley on uillean pipes. He gives this song such a great atmosphere and the folksy breakdown with him and Emppu dueling is fantastic. Very cool. A recommended listen.

6. “Scaretale”: (4.5/5) Symphonic power metal at it’s best. A very creepy intro I must say, but when it gets into the good parts, it takes off and never lets up! It’s very bombastic and a big sounding song. Also, Anette’s vocals are so powerful in this song. Here, she sounds dark and evil, something I never would have thought she would sound like. The middle part of the song is so crazy! It’s basically circus music! At first, I thought this was very odd, but the more I listened, the more I liked it and it is actually quite brilliant. One of the album’s highlights.

7. "Arabesque": (3.5/5) An instrumental. A very cool orchestration, but it isn’t the highlight of the album. It is worth listening to though for good atmosphere and feeling. It’s almost like intermission.

8. “Turn Loose The Mermaids”: (4/5) A folksy ballad with Celtic influences. At first I did not care for this song that much, but the more I listened, the more I liked it and realized that it is actually very good. I think Anette sounds very nice on this song too. Beats the hell out of "Eva" that’s for sure.

9. “Rest Calm”: (4/5) A slower metal track, but good nonetheless. Marco sounds so powerful and literally blows you out of your seat in this song during the verses! I like how they have Anette singing this one, going from one emotion to another during the chorus sections. Very clever. The children’s choir is also featured in this song. A very recommended song.

10. “The Crow, The Owl, And The Dove”: (3.5/5) Honestly, I really disliked this song when I first heard it, but like “Turn Loose The Mermaids”, the more I listened the more it grew on me. The only thing is that this is probably the most radio friendly song Nightwish ever released. Despite that, this is actually a well written song. One thing I didn’t care for is the breakdown where Troy Donockley sings. Yes, the pipist sings! It sounds out of place, but it doesn’t destroy the song. Not my favorite song on the album, but it is worth a good listen for sure!

11. “Last Ride Of The Day”: (5/5) Epic!! That is exactly what this song is! A very good bombastic song with a whirlwind of emotions and feelings throughout. The highlight of the song is the chorus. In my opinion, it's one of the best choruses in Nightwish’s career. A great melody! The orchestra and choir is used so well in this song. The best song on the album for me. Just pure Nightwish.

12. “Song Of Myself”: (2.5/5) A very long song, clocking in at almost 14 minutes. Great orchestra sections, choirs throughout… etc. Why is this song only a 2.5/5? Well because it is only half of a song! The first half sounds very powerful and good. The second half of the song is basically dialogue! What?? Really? Yes, we have six and half minutes of basically strings, piano, some guitar, and people reading dialogue from what appears to be a script from the movie I assume. I don’t know. All I know is that it was unnecessary to have for that long and because of that the song is a big letdown. A little bit would have been okay, but I think that part of the song should have been a separate track in my opinion. But it is worth a listen if you like poetic script reading and if you pay attention, there is some interesting stuff being read actually if you have enough attention span to get through it all.

13. “Imaginaerum”: (3.5/5) Another instrumental and the title track. Seems to be the music you would hear at the end of the movie during the credits. It is basically the orchestra, led by Pip Williams, playing the highlights from every song on the album. This track sounds very nice, but it isn’t my favorite one and I think it is one of the weaker tracks.

So that is my song by song review of Imaginaerum. Here are my overall thoughts:

  • Much better album overall than Dark Passion Play, with better lyrics and better songs throughout.
  • Anette’s vocals are vastly improved, mainly due to the fact that the songs are now written for her range.
  • Marco sounds so epic and great as usual.
  • Very epic orchestral sections throughout.
  • So much variety and experimentation.
  • Lack of good guitar work at times, but when needed, Emppu has good stuff on here.
  • Parts of the album has flaws, like Troy singing in “The Crow, The Owl, And The Dove” and the second half of “Song of Myself” for example.
  • Some listeners may have to listen to it a few times to get the idea of the album.
I feel that Nightwish has really stepped up on this album. I am so impressed with how they made a great comeback since the last album. Dark Passion Play seemed very awkward and not like a true Nightwish album the way I know them. All the mistakes that were on Dark Passion Play are corrected on this album. If you are a fan of the last two albums, you may have a difficult time accepting this album at first because of it’s theatrics and experimentation. The last couple of Nightwish albums were definitely more commercial sounding compared to this one. Imaginaerum goes back to their roots with the lyrics and songwriting aspects, while at the same time incorporating elements from the last two albums. There are literally so many crazy things going on in this album, and you really do need to listen to it a couple of times to get it all. If you listen to the album from beginning to end, it actually makes more sense.

As far as Anette goes, I am impressed with her on this album. Her vocals have improved so much and I can tell she is really trying to get better. As I said in the last review, I had nothing against her as a person, but I felt that she did not belong in a band like Nightwish. But after listening to this, I can say that she actually belongs now with all the diversity that this band can bring to the table. Think about it, she sings in a jazz song, a folk song, and a bunch of epic symphonic power metal songs. As much as I miss Tarja in Nightwish like most of us do, you have to admit that she did a pretty good job and I don‘t think Tarja can sing some of these songs as well as her either. Sure some people may not like her sound vocally and she isn‘t the most unique singer ever, but I think that if you still have issues with Anette, keep an open mind because you will be very surprised with what is offered on this album.

This kind of diversity of music is not something many bands can achieve, which is why Nightwish is one of the greatest bands of all time to me. This is why they are legends and should be accounted as being perhaps the best band of our generation. Tuomas knows how to impress people, and I can honestly say that he has done it again! It is an exciting time to be a Finnish metal fan. The music that comes out of that country is so great and this is another album to add to your collection if you like symphonic power metal or female fronted metal. It is by far their most consistent album since Wishmaster. It has its flaws of course, but the good outweigh the bad and remember to keep an open mind when listening to this. I give this album a horns up as I can honestly say that the true new era of Nightwish starts now! \m/ Congratulations Nightwish on a job well done!

Overall score: 4/5

Nemesea's The Quiet Resistance Review

My latest review for Black Wind Metal is of the new Nemesea CD, The Quiet Resistance.  And you can see that I have very little good to say about it, too!

It's here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coronatus's Terra Incognita Review...

...Is now up over at Sonic Cathedral's web zine.  This is the German band's fourth album with yet another vocal line-up, and it seem that this time they got it right because this is a really strong album.

The review is here.

Tarja's new song "Outlanders"

Yesterday, Tarja introduced a new song "Outlanders" inspired by writer Paulo Coelho's text from books:  The Alchemist, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and Life: Selected Quotations. The song tells about the meaning of moments, how important it is enjoy life every day.

Outlanders is also the name for Tarja's and German producer Torsten Stenzel's new assembly. Outlanders has brought together people who have found their home outside the country they were born in.

According to a source from the event, which was held at a bookstore in Helsinki, Tarja said that they have no plans at all for the group Outlanders, but that it isn't impossible that it will be released somehow someday, but they haven't decided anything.

Friday, November 25, 2011

One last teaser video before Nightwish's Imaginaerum!

According to Nightwish, this is the last teaser video before releasing their new album. It features short interviews from each of the band members about the album. It is pretty rare that you hear Emppu speak in interviews actually! Very cool! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nightwish's "The Crow, The Owl and The Dove"

The second single from new album "Imaginaerum" is "The Crow, The Owl and The Dove". Marco composed the song and Tuomas described it as "Love is everything, and only Truth is our guide to a deeper state."
Click here and enter Yövissy  in the text box. Enjoy!
And if you will ever hear any band member talking about "Bird song" or "The Poultry song", yes they mean this one! :D

Just in case you haven't heard the official samples yet, you can do so here.

EDIT: for some of you, who can't wait to listen to "Imaginaerum", you can do so on RadioRock which  will play the CD starting at midnight  FINNISH TIME  when the clock turns from Tuesday Nov 29 to Wednesday Nov 30 which is the official release day in Finland.
I will add the link and other information as soon as possible. Please, don't forget to check time zones to work out the right time for your country.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some humor: More metal bands in 10 seconds!

Remember my post of metal bands in 10 seconds? Well I found more videos of different bands and they are still cracking me up everytime!

Here is Rhapsody of Fire:

The legendary Iron Maiden!:

Here is Megadeth:

Animals as Leaders (actually 20 seconds):

And finally Judas Priest:

I actually like all of these bands, but it was just too much for me to resist! Enjoy!

Lacuna Coil's "Dark Adrenaline"

Lacuna Coil announced the release dates, track listing and cover artwork for its 6th studio album "Dark Adrenaline".

The album will be out on January 23th in Europe, January 24th in North America and January 27th in Australia & NZ. You can listen to the first single "Trip the Darkness" below.

Track listing:

1. Trip The Darkness
2. Against You
3. Kill the Light
4. Give Me Something More
5. Upsidedown
6. End of Time
7. I Don't Believe in Tomorrow
8. Intoxicated
9. The Army Inside
10. Losing My Religion
11. Fire
12. My Spirit

Few words by Cristina Scabbia regarding new album can be found here.

DVD Review: Nightwish's From Wishes to Eternity

In the dawn of the new Nightwish album Imaginareum, I have finally decided to review From Wishes to Eternity. I know I have waited a little long to review this DVD since I said I was going to review it back on my Dark Passion Play review, but here it is!

In 2001 during Nightwish's Wishmaster tour, the band released their first live DVD recorded in Tampere, Finland which was on December 29th, 2000. And boy what a treat it is to watch anytime I get around to it! I could honestly say that this DVD really gives me chills every time watching it as well as reminding me how great Nightwish was during the peak of their career with Tarja Turunen as lead vocalist. It is also the only live DVD of the band to feature Sami Vänskä as their bassist. I actually prefer Marco at bass since he brings a bigger dimension to the band with his powerful voice, but Sami did a great job in Nightwish nonetheless.

What is great about this DVD is that everyone in the band is performing at a very high level. For example, Tarja's vocals on this release shattered all of the studio versions of the songs performed at this concert. Her voice is very angelic and powerful, as it usually is, but her performance at this particular show is beyond amazing and nothing I have heard before from her! She really knows how to bring the emotions out in Tuomas' songs. And speaking of Tuomas', he showcases his best keyboard work on this DVD, most notably in "Wanderlust" and "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion" where is completely shreds with confidence and style.

The other members were also on top of their skill level too. Emppu's guitar work is creative and stellar, especially when he adds his own guitar fills where it actually enhances the songs more. I especially dig him in the "Crimson Tide" "Deep Blue Sea" covers, but unfortunately that track was not on the DVD I got, which is quite a shame because that performance was outstanding! Jukka's drumming is just fun to watch. I love how he always shows so much passion when playing drums, like how he still does to this day! Sami also seems to be pulling out some good bass licks in the songs too! It's great seeing the band have so much fun on stage together! During the song "Fantasmic part 3", Tuomas jumps out from his keyboard and headbangs with the rest of the band! That is something you don't see everyday! Another funny moment is when there was a break in "Wanderlust", Emppu gave a friendly pat on Tarja's head! How cool is that! :D

Another cool aspect of this DVD are the guest vocalists. My personal favorite performance of the concert is "Beauty & the Beast", where Sonata Arctica's vocalist Tony Kakko provides the male voice. He was a great choice to sing this as opposed to Tuomas, who is a great songwriter and keyboardist, but not a great vocalist. I love how both Tarja and Tony showcase great stage presence together with so much passion and emotion. It looks so theatrical and bad ass at the same time! The other guest vocalist, Tapio Wilska, provides live vocals on "The Pharaoh Sails To Orion". Being the former vocalist of Finntroll, his on stage theatrics are a sight to see. It is really cool to see a guy have so much fun on stage with a band like Nightwish. It is very rare that you will hear his vocal style in a Nightwish song. It is probably the closest Nightwish will ever sound to being death metal!

Other cool additions to the DVD are the bonus features on it. There are interviews with Tuomas and Tarja, two music videos, two live videos, a cool photo gallery, and their discography as of 2001. There is also some off-stage footage where you can see Nightwish backstage! If you happen to get this DVD, you need to watch that because you will get a good laugh at some of the stuff they did during their tour!

So that is my review of From Wishes to Eternity. Here are my overall thoughts:

  • An excellent performance by an excellent band!
  • Great camera work and sound quality.
  • Enough bonus material to keep you wanting more!
  • Wish there were a few more Oceanborn songs on the setlist, but this is a minor complaint.
  • Some DVD's do not have the "Crimson Tide" and "Deep Blue Sea" covers.
You can tell by watching this that Nightwish was at the height of their career as a band during this show. The energy that radiated from this show is something that was special here and I don't think it could ever be repeated again! I actually think this performance overall tops End of an Era, though both concerts were very good in their own respect. This is probably my favorite live DVD despite the fact that the "Crimson Tide" and "Deep Blue Sea" covers were not on my copy. At least there is a video of it on YouTube! This DVD is a must have for any fan of Nightwish or symphonic power metal in general. It doesn't get much better than this! Horns up for me! \m/

Overall rating: 5/5

Friday, November 18, 2011

Come Cover Me: Spythriller's Nemo

Thanks to one of my colleagues at Sonic Cathedral, I saw this on Facebook this morning.  Though not my typical style of music, I really, really like this a lot.  It has a great ethereal quality to it that really goes well with the themes of "Nemo."  I've never heard of Spythriller before, but I think I'm going to check them out.

Here is the original by Nightwish:

And here is the cover by Spythriller:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lucky Leak: Imaginaerum Samples!

Well, it was bound to happen: despite an embargo by the record label where no promo copies were available, parts of Nightwish's Imaginaerum have been leaked.  In fact, 12:33 minutes of Imaginaerum have been leaked, and being the weak soul that I am, I caved in and listened even though I was determined to wait for my CD to arrive in the mail (hopefully before Christmas as I have pre-ordered from Finland, but this is the Canadian postal system we're talking about).

Here it is:

Holy shit, is all I can say.  Seriously, holy shit.

Edit Wednesday Nov. 16:  well that was predictable & unsurprising: the video has been taken down by the record label, Nuclear Blast.  HMPH!  I hope some of you out there got to enjoy it before it vanished.  I know I did.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review Up

My review of Van Canto's newest CD, Break the Silence, is up on Black Wind Metal.  You can read it here.

Tarja Turunen & Harus: "In Concert Live at Sibelius Hall"

Today earMUSIC released teaser trailer of Tarja's  upcoming CD/DVD with her project Harus.

The CD will be out on November 25th and the DVD December 2nd.

In case, you would like to buy a single "Walking In the Air (Live)", you can do it on itunes here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finally: Nightwish's "Storytime"

Hot off the virtual press, here it is, the first single from Imaginaerum, the long-anticipated "Storytime."

I know I love it. I know I've been playing it non-stop since it was leaked onto the internet Sunday night (Monday morning in Finland).

And here it is, in all it's glory!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

CD Review: Metallica and Lou Reed's Lulu

Oh boy...... where do I begin? *Facepalm*

Metallica is one of my favorite bands, but what the hell is this crap? Metallica decided that they wanted to do something a little different by producing a concept album with another artist. Lulu is based on a series of two plays (Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box) by Frank Wedekind, a playwright who lived in the late 19th, early 20th centuries. They decided to record the album with Lou Reed, an old experimental rock musician who honestly has no business doing anything with a group like Metallica! This collaboration would be nothing more than a big mess, like mixing water and oil, and that is exactly what happened on Lulu.

Musically, the album is just pure noise! It sounds like Metallica came up with a bunch of rushed metal riffs and gave it to Lou Reed for him to make shitty songs. Metallica on this album sounds generic and boring, almost like the equivalence of nails on a chalkboard for metal listeners! But of course the worst part of this project are Lou Reed's vocals! He doesn't sing, instead he simply talks over the music and it sounds terrible and out of key. Everything just sounds so annoying on this album! Even some of the lyrics are laughable. In their single, "The View", James Hetfield sings lyrics such as "I am the Table", which has now become a big Internet meme as of late! Actually, I find that line pretty humorous myself and it seems that people are now calling James "The Table"! Unreal!

For a concept album, this was extremely horrible, awkward and poorly executed! It's one thing to try to be original, but please make it at least listenable! Why did Metallica sign up for this? What was the reason for creating this horrible album? Why would Metallica release this garbage after releasing a fairly decent album in Death Magnetic? What were they thinking?? Normally, I would do a song by song review, but this album was so bad that it did not deserve that! I would honestly rate this among the top 10 worst albums of all time! Seriously, it is THAT BAD! I have been looking for an album to give 0 stars and a DOUBLE horns down for, and that is exactly what this album deserves! /w\ /w\ Absolutely horrible! Do not buy or even listen to this, and this is coming from a long time Metallica fan! Metallica is going to have to do something really amazing in the future to make up for this garbage!

I am honestly ashamed to be a Metallica fan after listening to this..

Rating: 0/5 Abomination!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Come Cover Me: Angra's Phantom of the Opera version live Rock in Rio 2011 with Tarja

When I found out that Angra was performing live with Tarja in Rock in Rio 2011, I was so excited that I nearly exploded! Haha, just kidding but you know what I mean. I was excited until I heard the performance itself. I myself am a big Angra fan, but to be honest, their performance at Rock in Rio this year was pretty lackluster compared to what I have heard out of this band before. This video showcases Angra covering the famous Phantom of the Opera song with Tarja Turunen:

Nightwish's version of this song is obviously far superior and it is apparent that both Edu and Tarja are out of key. Apparently from metal gossip on YouTube, they were both mic'ed up very poorly and could not hear the music well at all. Well I can actually see that, but Edu's singing is just not very good here at all. I actually like his voice with the band normally, but he sounded very course and rough at this concert. He must of had a rough night because he even sang Angra songs very poorly as well. Here is a video of Angra's setlist in Rock In Rio 2011:

If you look up any Angra live video besides RIR 2011, you will see that they are normally a very good live band and that Edu is usually an excellent vocalist. I myself find them to be one of the best live power metal bands around, and this performance actually shocked me. We all have bad days and experiences so rest assured that Angra is still a very good band but had some issues that day.

So yeah, this is not a very good version of POTO.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

CD Review: Visions of Atlantis's "Maria Magdalena"

I love how some bands save their best material for EPs.  Leaves' Eyes does this all the time, with the exception of Melusine, which was pretty bad compared to gems like their Legend Land EP and their Elegy EP.  From a marketing standpoint, these EPs make total sense, and it makes sense to keep some little surprises back from the fans so they'll buy more stuff.

Maria Magdalena, released Oct. 21, is VoA's first EP, and I have to say, though I liked Delta well enough (review here), I on the whole like this EP a lot more.

It starts off with the cover of a song I'd never heard before, "Maria Magdalena", originally performed by German pop artist Sandra.  You can listen to the original here.  It's very typical 80s pop and it kind of makes me cringe when I listen to it.  The VoA version, which you can listen to here, is a much more updated, modern version and it rocks.

Also included on this EP are a few new songs, the faster "Change of Tides" and "Distant Shores" and the slower, ballad-like follow up to "The Poem" from 2007's Trinity, entitled "Beyond Horizon - The Poem Part II."  This latter song is great, mainly because it shows of Mario Plank's sensitive side.  In fact, one of the things I liked most about this EP overall is that Mario uses his clean vocals and leaves his growlier voice at home for a while.  In "Beyond Horizon" he sounds amazing and emotional like he never has before.

The other song on this 6-track release that I enjoyed a lot was a remake of "Last Shut of Your Eyes", which originally appeared on VoA's 2004 release, Castaway, back when Nicole Bogner was still lead singer. (Oh, Nicole, where are you now?  You were so awesome!)  This newer version of course features current VoA female lead Maxi Nil, who is an excellent singer.  She really shines on this EP, and when listening to this song in particular, I got a sense of nostalgia.  This is a song that originally got me into the band, yet I hadn't heard it in ages.  Hearing "Last Shut of Your Eye" has inspired me to go back through VoA's discography and revisit my old favourites because it's just been plain too long.

This is definitely an EP worth listening to if you're a VoA fan, as I am, and if you're looking to get into the "new" VoA.  Though Delta is certainly a worthwhile listen, Maria Magdalena doesn't have a single weak or filler song on it, so I definitely recommend it.  Horns up! \m/

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nightwish's "Storytime" Teaser

OMG!  It sounds awesome!  I hope Canada's pitiful postal system doesn't slow up the path of my copy of Imaginaerum, which I ordered from NW's site and should be shipped on the 29th or 30th of November.

This just appeared on Anette's blog, check it!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Making of Imaginaerum

Nightwish just released this 2-minute clip of the making of Imaginaerum.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unshine Update

If you haven't heard of Unshine before, I suggest you get on YouTube and start listening!  I stumbled across them a few years ago and really liked what I heard, then I kind of got distracted with other stuff, and they fell out of my regular queue of listening.  Then, they came back to my awareness over the summer via, and I realized how much I missed them and how much I was missing out by not listening to them very often.  They are ridiculously underrated.

Hailing from Finland, this female-fronted band has a Gothic-y kind of feel but their lyrical themes have a lot to do with Celtic & pagan stuff, and myth & legend.  Their singer, Susana Vesilahti has a unique voice for the genre.  They have two albums, and recently, Unshine announced that album #3 will be released in early 2012.  They aren't signed with a label at this particular time.

Here is a sample of 4 songs off the upcoming album:

And here are a couple of faves from previous albums.

New Find & Review: Obsidian Shell

My slave-driving boss over at Black Wind Metal sent me a copy of Hungarian Gothic/symphonic-ish metal band Obsidian Shell's newest release, Evershade, for review purposes.  The review is now up on Black Wind Metal here.

I really think this is a band worth checking out.  I really liked Evershade, once I got over the first song on the album, which was a bit on the bland side.  They have some good stuff.  Unfortunately, the singer & bassist left the band shortly after this CD was released, so I'm not sure what the future hold for them, but they deserve a bit of attention because I think they are quite promising.

Here are a couple of samples from Evershade for you to enjoy, "Hidden" and "Season of Light."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crysalys Review Up

My review of Crysalys's debut album, The Awakening of Gaia, is now appearing on Sonic Cathedral's web zine here, if you are interested in hearing my thoughts about this promising new band.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tarja's Christmas CD & DVD release dates

Aftrer a long time Tarja is releasing live CD and DVD from her Christmas concerts. The CD will be released on November 25th and the DVD on December  2nd. The footage is from Tarja's Christmas tour back in 2009.

Harus is Tarja's classical line up with whom she has done concerts together since 2006. Learn more about Harus here.

Live video of "You Would Have Loved This" from the DVD

 CD cover

DVD cover

Photoshop FTW :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thoughts After Imaginaerum Pre-listening

Tero Tolkki, who runs Metal from Finland, had an opportunity to attend a pre-listening of Nightwish's upcoming CD Imaginaerum.  No promos are being given out by the record label, which I can't say is a bad idea.  Here is Tero's write-up containing his thoughts and impressions after hearing the album.

This CD is sounding very promising!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Losing My Metal Gig Virginity!

On Monday, the long-anticipated day came: Sabaton played in Vancouver.  This Swedish power metal band, which plays and sings about the both the futility and heroism of war (they are a “war metal” band), has long been on my bucket list of bands to see live, after watching tons of YouTube videos of them playing at places like Wacken, etc.  On Monday, they came through Canada’s west coast (as so few on my fave bands do) opening for Swedish power/prog metallers Evergrey.  When the dates were announced in March, I knew this was an opportunity I had to take advantage of, and living in the sticks at the time, I began to scheme about how to get from Boonieland to Vancouver for the gig.  A surprise gift from a good friend yielded tickets and someone to accompany me so I didn’t have to go alone and feel like a loser.

I had just moved to the coast on Friday, for crying out loud, and the move itself was incredibly taxing.  It was hard to look forward to this gig because I had so much going on and I was extremely stressed.  But on the day of, I felt better, my cat was in good hands for the night (my friend came from out of town for this gig and we were staying at a hotel in downtown Van, and I was able to relax and look forward to the evening.

The lineup included The Absense, whom I’d never heard of, and since I was short on time before the gig, I wasn’t able to research.  I figured it would be a better use of my time to go late to the gig and miss this band in favour of meeting up with my brother & SIL for a pre-show libation at a nearby bar.  I also wanted to miss Powerglove; video game metal is not up my alley at all.  I was mildly curious about Blackguard, a Montreal band whom I’d heard previously was excellent live, and whom I know to be a hard-working, hard-touring band worthy of checking out.  

The stage at The Venue.  The big face belongs to the Evergrey set-up.
My friend and I arrived at The Venue at 8pm and The Absence was just finishing up.  I heard enough to know I’d made a good call by showing up late.  The next to take stage was Blackguard, which irked me because I’d hoped Powerglove would be before them & I could bow out after getting my wrist stamped at the door (BTW, I was also IDed at the door, which made my day because I haven’t been IDed in nearly 17 years).  I got to see the sound mixing board up close & personal and get an idea of what The Venue was like.  It was dark.  It had 3 bars and sticky floors.  There was a cool colour-changing wall.

There was a considerable amount of debate on my part as to what to wear to this gig, and after consulting some of my co-writers at Black Wind Metal, I learned that it was kosher to wear another band’s shirt to a gig, as long as the genres weren’t terribly misaligned.   Because my Nightwish shirt was both long-sleeved and not necessarily in the same genre as anyone playing that night, I went instead with my Sonata Arctica t-shirt, purchased nearly a year ago in Calgary.  I saw a lot of other shirts that night: Behemoth, Amon Amarth, Iced Earth, Cannibal Corpse, AC/DC and others.  There was a lot of great people- watching there.  There were scene girls and girls with black tutus on, one chick with a big bow in her hair and a black and white flouncy skirt with a polka-dotted jacket, and a very straight-laced, serious-looking guy with tight jeans, a white v-neck sweater, big glasses - and a murse.  He looked very out of the place.

Anyway, here is my band-by-band run-down.

Blackguard: not my cup of tea musically because their vocals are all growly.  Live, I couldn’t understand a word that came out of the singer's mouth, but I was impressed by the synchronized windmill headbanging the singer & guitarists frequently broke into.  Their power and stage presence was excellent.  Their tiny female drummer totally rocked it.  But the vocals got lost in the overall sound of the band an that was disappointing.

Powerglove:  As they were doing their sound check, they also brought out some props, one included a large, life-sized cut-out of a green monster with gnashing teeth. As the band went onto stage in the dark, I could tell there was something coming on that was higher than the band with a bit of a wave to it.  A butterfly, perhaps? No, it was a pair of skull-capped pennants with the band’s name on them - attached to the drummer somehow.  It was very strange.  When the lights came on at the start of playing, I saw that the band members had all dressed up in costumes that reminded me of Klingon gear mixed with a bit of the caveman look (horns & shit, not to mention the scull-capped pennants) and with some WWF championship belts.  It took me a while to process this...There were a lot of Powerglove fans there - barely over the drinking age of 19, which is what you have to be in order to get to a gig like this.  During their set, out came the inflatable giant mallets and inflatable swords, which were dispersed to the crowd, who went crazy for them.  There might have been some beatdowns.  Bizarre!  They were mainly instrumental which was great, though the one guitarist looked like he was 12 and had no stage presence.  Mind you, he wore the most ridiculous costume of all: he had big tusky horns sticking out of his shoulders.  After they were done, off went the green monster & skull-capped pennants.  Their fans held fast to their inflatable props.  Oh yeah, and it was during Powerglove that the weed came out!

Joakim Broden of Sabaton
Sabaton:  Now we’re talking.  I had found a good place near the bar in a back corner, with seats, so one of us could always look after our stuff since there was no coat check.  But this was Sabaton and I wanted to get closer of course!  I took off while my friend looked after my things and got as far forward as I could without getting too close to the rowdy crowd up front.  Turned out I had a great vantage point for photographing Joakim Broden in action, as well as the fill-in bassis, Emile, I think his name was.  Before they came on stage, the place went dark and on came “The Final Countdown” by fellow Swedes, Europe.  That brought me back.  Then the lights came on, and there they were, pounding out “Ghost Division.”  Seeing them live was just such a great experience.  They are powerful, animated, and so energetic live.  Joakim is way hotter live, too.  He wore a muscle shirt, showing off ripped biceps that totally indicated this guy is a big-time weight lifter.  His thighs were huge.  It was impressive, I must say.  I used to weight lift and was married to a body builder, so big muscle-y men impress me.  His skin also quickly became covered in an attractive sheen of sweat.  I could barely keep my eyes off him.  I took about a bazillion pictures.

I can’t remember the entire set list.  “Primo Victoria” was one song, and they wrapped their set up with “Metalizer.”  The crowd was amazing.  I didn’t think there would be too many Sabaton fans there, but they by far had the biggest and most enthusiastic crowd of the evening, and Joakim remarked several times at how impressed they were that they were in a new country and a new city and they were receiving such a warm welcome.

One exchange stood out, and why wouldn’t it?  Before the second to last song, Joakim said, “And now we have some very serious business to discuss: my penis.”  This elicited a bit of a roar from the crowd (which was mostly male).  When he heard that he said, “Well, I didn’t say it was big business!”  I was like, where did that come from???  It was funny, but odd!

During “Metalizer,” someone got out a big beach ball and threw it up into the crowd and everyone batted it around.  One girl behind me headbanged so hard she was nearly whipping me with her hair.  For this song, Joakim took off his ever-present sunglasses - at last!  And - there was a wall of death!  It was a very small one, and it looked completely absurd, but it was there!  

Sabaton’s time on stage was too short.  I think it was 7 - 8 songs.  But the crowd was so into it and I was so into it I just wanted it to go on and on...

And the whole time I was up there, fist pumping and horns-upping, I was so grateful that I had this opportunity.  It made the hassle of my move completely worth it.

And then I got to meet some of them!  They were at their merch table in the lobby after their set!   I hesitated about going back there because of my shyness and nerves.  But I had to take this I went.  I left my stuff with my friend and I went back to the merch table.  Immediately, Daniel Mÿhr was right at the door as I walked in.  He’s the keyboardist.  We had a chat!  He noted my Sonata Arctica t-shirt after I told him this was my first metal gig.  He was surprised and when I said Sabaton was on my bucket list, he said, “But you’re wearing a Sonata Arctica shirt!”  I said, “Yeah, well it was a choice between this and a longsleeved Nightwish shirt.”  He nodded and said he understood.  I asked him some questions about touring and the set list and mentioned to him that my fave Sabaton song is “Union (Slopes of St. Benedict)” and he said that they haven’t played that one live in 3 years.

And then I spotted Joakim...Immediately I became very nervous and I could feel my heart in my throat.  For me, this was like meeting a big celebrity.  I waited very patiently as he was surrounded by a crowd of different people, but eventually I stepped forward and offered my hand for him to shake.  He was shorter than I’d expected.  I said nice to meet you and thank you for the great performance, and then it got very awkward...Yep, I was tongue-tied.  Instead of mentioning the Van Canto video, I mentioned that this was my first metal gig and he seemed very surprised and asked me how I came to this one.  I gave him a garbled answer I can’t even repeat, saying something about living in the boonies and being far away from Vancouver, where not many of my favourite bands come anyway, but I don’t know if he understood me because he kind of gave me an odd look and then got distracted with other fangirls and people wanting autographs etc. and I just stood there a moment longer before realizing my time was up, so I just thanked him again and left.  I went away feeling stupid and embarrassed, but also, as a reporter and writer for a paper, I’m used to people wanting to talk to me, dammit!  He wouldn’t have known that, though.  Anyway...not an ideal interaction and the space was so crowded I was having a hard time coping with the noise, so I just went back to my place where my friend was waiting, patting myself on the back that yeah, I did go up to the guy and shake his hand, which for me took some guts (since I don’t have many), and reassured myself that he probably wouldn’t remember me or the awkward exchange anyway.  

Tom Englund of Evergrey.

Everygrey: This band I wasn’t particularly familiar with.  I listened once to their most recent album, Glorious Collision and I did enjoy it.  They were really good live, but we wound up not staying for their full performance because their lighting was driving me up the wall and making my friend dizzy.  That was disappointing because I thought they had a lot of soul and emotion on stage.  Sabaton had pretty straightforward lighting, but Evergrey had a bunch of effects with their lighting that really annoyed me.  My friend and I couldn’t stay for the whole thing, so we left about halfway through.  I felt really guilty about this because after Sabaton, the crowd thinned considerably and was decidedly less enthusiastic.

Summary: Fantastic experience.  Good call with getting ear plugs; my ears would have been bleeding after Blackguard if I hadn’t worn any. I am so glad I went and so grateful that my friend was there with me.  It wasn’t her cup of tea at all, but she was a total trooper.  If you’re a Sabaton fan, I totally recommend seeing them live because they are pure power to watch and experience, and I was so happy I had this opportunity.  And I look forward to more opportunities like this in the future now that I’m down on the coast.  In fact, I plan on attending the Arkona gig in December, where they open for Korpiklaani (whom I’m not really into).  That might even involve an interview for Sonic Cathedral’s web zine.

You can see all my photos of the gig here.