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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Come Cover Me: "Walking in the Air"

Ah, the joys of Facebook! Recently a FB friend of mine posted a cover of "Walking in the Air" done by Tarja Turunen, and if she hadn't, I don't think I would ever have known about it. It's lovely. We'll get to it in a minute.

Here is the original, written by Howard Blake and sung by Richard Auty, and it was used for the animated called The Snowman, which was adapted from a children's book of the same name, written by Raymond Briggs.

If you check out the song's Wikipedia page here, you'll see that it's been quite heavily covered by just about everyone under the sun, including Cliff Richard, Kenny Loggins, and Barry Manilow, who sung it as a duet with Celine Dion.

Most popularly, though, and of significance to a heavy metal music blog, the song was covered by Nightwish. It was released as a single and appeared on Oceanborn. Here is that version, sung live.

Tarja did her own version of the song, too, as mentioned above, and it appeared on one of her solo Christmas albums, Henkäys Ikuisuudesta. Here is a fantastic live version of it, the one my FB friend shared. Incidentally, the dress Tarja is wearing here has got to be my favourite Tarja outfit ever.

Beautiful! I actually like it better than the Nightwish version, to be honest; I find it to be much more expressive. And you have to love the red mic, too!

Within Temptation's Faster Video

It's out!

Unfortunately, this version of the song is about 50 seconds shorter than the original version, which is a bit of a tick-off, if you ask me. The radio gods must be appeased, I guess. Gr.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Come Cover Me: "Hymn"

As with quite a few bands these days, I really enjoy Lunatica's older material to their newer stuff. Their second CD, Fables and Dreams, is their best release, IMO, and it contained a little number called "Hymn." I loved it the moment I heard it, but had no idea until quite a bit later that it was actually a cover.

The original was written and performed by British New Wave rock band Ultravox and was released as a single in 1982. As you can see here, it was covered quite a bit. What I particularly enjoy about this song is the rather cynical attitude towards the Bible, referring to that particular work as a "storybook." The lyrics are great:

Give us this day all that you showed me
The power and the glory 'til thy kingdom come

Give us this day all that you showed me,
The power and the glory 'til thy kingdom come
Give me all the story book told me,
The faith and the glory 'til thy kingdom comes

And they said that in our time,
All that's good will fall from grace
Even saints would turn their face,
In our time

And they told us that in our days,
Different words said in different ways,
Have other meaning from he who says,
In our time.

Give us this day all that you showed me,
The power and the glory 'til thy kingdom come
Give me all the story book told me,
The faith and the glory 'til thy kingdom comes

And they said that in our time,
We would reap from their legacy,
We would learn from what they had seen,
In our time.

And they told us that in our days,
We would know what was high on high,
We would follow and not defy,
In our time.

Give us this day all that you showed me,
The power and the glory 'til thy kingdom come
Give me all the story book told me,
The faith and the glory 'til thy kingdom comes

Faithless in faith
We must behold the things we see

Give us this day all that you showed me,
The power and the glory 'til thy kingdom come
Give me all the story book told me,
The faith and the glory 'til thy kingdom comes

Here is Ultravox with the original:

Edguy did a cover in 1999. It's...OK.

And here is Lunatica's version.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Within Temptation's "Faster"

All right, I love it! Can't wait for the CD!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On Downloading Music

I'm as guilty of downloading as the next person; I don't do tons of it and I still buy a fair number of CDs as I am able to afford to, but yes, I download.

My main reason for downloading is this: I don't have a lot of discretionary income and if I want to keep discovering & enjoying music & my favourite bands, I simply cannot afford to purchase every CD I want to. Especially because I like stuff that isn't always readily available in North America. I do what I can, though; I enjoy purchasing CDs and when I have the money in my budget to do so, I do buy CDs. In the case of really small bands I like to support, I make the extra effort and purchase the CD right from the band itself, as I did with Australian Gothic outfit Temujin and Canadian power metalers Borealis. I also like hearing a whole album before I commit to purchasing it; that's not always possible on MySpace or with every band.

I enjoy sitting down with a CD cover and listening to a CD as I read along with the lyrics, and I enjoy looking at album art, and I even enjoy reading the credits. However, I have priorities: I have a home, bills, debts, a cat, and many of the usual trappings of adulthood.

I believe artists deserve to be paid for what they produce and release, too. But if you take the example of the legal downloads available off of iTunes and sites like that where you pay a small fee, I seriously wonder how much of that small fee actually gets back to the artist. For instance, I bought Akoma's 3-track EP off of iTunes for $2.97CAD a few months ago. I am truly curious about how much of that $2.97 went to the band, though. Usually, iTunes sells single songs for 99¢; what percentage of that 99¢ goes to the artist? I don't know; I'm just asking. If it's the principle you're interested in, then that's one thing, but if iTunes is taking the majority of the cut, then that's not really helping anyone but iTunes, in my opinion.

What ticks me off sometimes is the attitude of some of the big acts out there who seem to think that downloading is the root of all evil. I was really irritated with Chester Bennington's recent comments about Linkin Park's latest CD sales numbers, found on Blabbermouth. The article says:

LINKIN PARK frontman Chester Bennington told MTV News last October that the
days of the band selling 10 million copies of an album, like its 2000 debut "Hybrid Theory", are long gone.

Bennington explained, "Trying to compare anything to 'Hybrid Theory' in terms of sales is an exercise in futility: It's not gonna happen. That's the reality of the situation. (Second album 'Meteora') did huge numbers the first week, it was like 800,000. 'Minutes To Midnight' was in the 600,000 mark, and this one's at the 240,000 mark; that's a sign of the times . . . people get their music in different ways now."

"Meteora" sold 810,000 copies in its first week of release, while 2007's "Minutes To
Midnight" moved 623,000.

Thanks to downloading and file sharing, Bennington said, "There's probably 10 million people out there who have the record that we don't know about."

Well, I am one of those 10 million people that downloaded A Thousand Suns, and let me tell you, I feel no guilt about this whatsoever. That's because I thought the album sucked and I wouldn't have spent a penny on it anyway. What Chester is perhaps failing to realize here is that LPs most recent CD might not be the quality of their Meteora or Hybrid Theory days, which might also account for poor sales. I don't know; I'm just theorizing here.

Slipknot's Cory Taylor has a bit of a different view, according to this article. He says:

"Seriously, who the fuck wants to risk hard-earned money on music that's maybe 98 percent crap? I'm not going to. And I still buy new albums. People ask what my favorite new album is and nine times out of 10, I don't fucking have one. Music is garbage."

He goes on to say,

"People wanna blame the decline of album sales on downloading, I think it's actually the record companies' fault," he added. "I think it's the quality of the product. If record companies would stop giving any fucking mook on the street with a fringe a record deal or their own record label, maybe you would sell more fucking albums, dipshits."

Fair enough, Corey.

There is a lot of shit music out there for sure, but there is also a hell of a lot of great music out there, too, but you just have to take the time to look for it. That's why I love sites like And this is where illegal downloading can be great for smaller, more obscure bands that could use some exposure. If I didn't have access to downloading, I would never have gotten into fantastic bands like Dawn of Destiny (I own their first 2 CDs incidentally; their 3rd I can't seem to find anywhere and ordering from Europe is way too expensive), Almora (I also purchased a few of their albums), and Atargatis (I purchased two of their CDs). And that's just a few! I might never even have gotten into metal at all if it hadn't been for downloading.

Another example: Nightwish. I found Nightwish after listening to Within Temptation on a radio station on iTunes. I downloaded everything NW I could get my hands on. I now own all NW albums, official DVDs, a fucking expensive NW t-shirt, and some other merch. Similarly, because of downloading I have purchased the special editions, EPs, and concert DVDs of other bands whose material I've downloaded, too. That cannot be a bad thing at all.

It always seems to be the big bands that complain about downloading, like Linkin Park and Bono/U2, etc. Those bands are not hurting. But the smaller bands, like Dawn of Destiny and Atargatis - two of my favourites - have actually benefitted from my downloading.

So, I don't know. I'm just saying. It's not a black & white issue.

I don't believe, however, that art of any kind should be so exclusive that it's completely inaccessible to those who might not be able to afford to enjoy it. That's just my 2 cents.

New Find: Where Angels Fall

I mentioned this band in my list post in my list of top finds of 2010, so I thought I'd better actually give them a bit of cowbell here (for what it's worth!). I found Where Angels Fall on and the first song I heard was "Kyrie." It grabbed me right away and I wanted more! I describe their style as Gothic metal with a bit of an electronic atmospheric element. They're heavy, they have choirs, and their vocalist, Eirin Bendigtsen, has a unique style that brings a real ethereal feel to the music.

Hailing from Norway and formed originally in 2004, Where Angels Fall has three releases so far. The only one I've been able to get hold of is Marionettes, and I really like it. According to the most recent info available on Encyclopaedia Metallum, the band consists of Eirin on vocals, André Bendigtsen on guitar, Espen Lohne on bass, and Jarle 'Uruz' Byberg on drums.

Lyrically, check out this song, "Female Stigma."

Here are some lyrics:

Having the wrong face
Having the wrong skills
Having the wrong voice
Work twice as hard as
Be twice as smart as
Sing twice as good as

It seems like I’m inferior
Compared to you
I have the female stigma
I’ll never be as good as you

Love it! And sung with such attitide, too.

Here is the aforementioned "Kyrie", which initially got me into the band. I love this song.

And here is another favourite of mine from the Marionettes album, the title track.

I really look forward to hearing more stuff from these guys; I think they have a really good thing going for them.

Edit @ 9:18am, Monday Jan. 17: WAF's Facebook page lists the band members as the following:

Eirin Bendigtsen - lead vocals
André Bendigtsen - guitars & programming
Espen Lohne - bass
Kristian Svenning - guitar

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Leaves' Eyes Update

I am so fucking excited! One of my fave bands ever, Leaves' Eyes, just updated their Facebook page with a pile of info on their upcoming album! The CD is called Meredead and is slated for an April 22nd release in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

The album cover has been released, and the announcement on the band's FB site includes this quote from vocalist & lyricist Liv Kristine:

"As we began composing the first song ideas for our fourth full-length album,
all of us were very eager to take another step in strengthening both the
individual sound and concept of Leaves' Eyes, like we have done album by album.
Along with the song-writing process, I made up my mind about the songs' themes,
and drowned myself in different sources of literature. Some songs clearly needed
lyrics rooted in northern history and culture, as well as having mystical
themes. Being an Old-English fan, I decided to write some of the lyrics in
Old-English, which of course included further studies of grammatical and
phonetic knowledge, which I really enjoyed doing. Next to modern English and
Old-English, some songs are sung in traditional Norwegian, to keep their strong
individuality and focus on certain themes from special genres in Norwegian
traditional singing. The album is given the title "Meredead", as one of the
songs on the album. It is my own word-creation (at least I haven't found it in a
dictionary yet), and it may mean both "dead by/in the sea", or "the mortal or
killing sea". In my lyrics you will find traditional themes from Viking
literature and Norwegian song tradition, moreover, tales from the Irish isles,
some from already existing sources, some made up myself. Sometimes you will hear
about men going on adventures, some ending up drowing in the sea, their wives,
evil witches, three-headed trolls, or spell-bound princesses, as well as marble
halls and blood-thirsty creatures. I allowed myself more freedom for the concept
of "Meredead", telling a number of different stories, real, mystical or
sometimes maybe even both."
You guys in GAS have all the luck! You seem to get all the good stuff first!

From Liv's description, this sounds like one hell of an album, with some great themes and a lot of thought put into the concepts and lyrics. I'm really impressed that Liv has taken on writing some lyrics in Old English; that's not easy shit at all, especially if English is your second language. The album cover looks pretty cool, too, I have to admit.
So, definitely something to look forward to come spring, but as usual, I do hope I don't have to wait forever to get a copy; sometimes living in North America is so annoying - we always get the later release dates and it's such a pain in the ass!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ballads Away: Return to You

Here is an underrated metal ballad I can't get enough of. This is Visions of Atlantis's "Return to You" sung by former vocalist Melissa Ferlaak, who I believe also wrote the song as a tribute to her father who passed away. It's a gorgeous song, powerfully and emotionally sung.


And while we're on the topic of VoA, the band now has a four-minute teaser of their upcoming CD release, Delta, up on their MySpace page, here.

Nightwish Update

Nightwish's Tuomas Holopainen spent some time with Metal Hammer Magazine over the summer during the band's summer camp where the demo was recorded for their upcoming CD. Today on Blabbermouth, I saw that Metal Hammer made a two part video of the visit.

Links to the two-part video are here. If you read German, you're in luck because the text accompanying the videos is in that language.
Die hard NW fan that I am, I have to say I really am looking forward to this album, even if it's more for curiosity's sake than anything else...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Suicide Tribute

Say what you want about Anette (many do), I think the girl has a good voice. I don't believe it's the right voice for Nightwish at all, and I have issues with the band's choice to hire her, but she can sing. And you certainly cannot fault anyone for wanting to create a tribute song to someone they loved and who died in a tragic way.

Before joining Nightwish in 2007, Anette sang for the Swedish rock band Alyson Avenue. One year ago, a long-time friend of Anette's and a friend of Alyson Avenue's committed suicide.

Suicide is an issue very close to my heart for reasons I won't get into here, and this morning I saw on Anette's blog that Alyson Avenue and Anette wrote and recorded a tribute song to this friend, and I have to say it was very moving and touched upon many of the questions those left behind after a suicide feel.

This is not a metal song, obviously. But one of the things I like about it is the thoughtful way in which it treats this issue. There is no anger in it, just questions - and common, valid ones at that.

The song is currently streaming on Alyson Avenue's web site and you can read the lyrics there, too. Here it is.

Within Temptation: New Album Cover

How cool is this? Today Within Temptation revealed the album cover for their upcoming release, The Unforgiving.

I'm not a comic book or graphic novel fan at all, but I have to say I like this idea a lot so far.

More info here, on WT's official site.