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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Come Cover Me: I Walk Alone

This is a cover version of Tarja's I Walk Alone by Jørn Lande. He is a Norwegian heavy metal singer and does the lead vocals in German power metal band Masterplan and of course in many other bands.

I am not really against covers and this one sounds pretty "heavy" which I like. Yet my ears suffer a little bit when Jørn sings "I walk alone" and "My winter storm" lines.

All in all I think it's a  good cover, but I don't listen to it often.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

CD Review: What Lies Beneath by Tarja

As my very first post, I decided to make my own review of Tarja's latest album What Lies Beneath. When I saw her back in 2009 on her Summer Storm tour, I was glad that I went there.Tarja is a great performer accompanied by great players but I missed something.Songs that I would be able to fully enjoy. MWS simply doesn't do it for me.

So I was looking forward to listening to her new album. Since the Summer Storm tour gig, I didn't go to any of her gigs, which were held quite nearby, but instead of that, I checked songs on YT. From all of them only Crimson Deep attracted my attention. So I was quite curious, what the rest of the album will sound like.

When I bought the standard edition I suffered from several shocks. First one was the booklet. (I'm not gonna rant here about the different album covers and photos inside, coz that is a long story and Eric wrote about it already). Let me tell you something. I was utterely pissed after I opened the booklet because instead of lyrics and photos I found the list of the authors of the music and lyrics.Yes that is also part of every booklet, but MY booklet consists only of the credits! If you think that I paid less than the official price, which is €14.99, you're wrong. I have some strange "regional" edition of What Lies Beneath for Czech Rep. and Slovak rep. This way I would LOVE to say one big THANK YOU Universal for the way, you treat Tarja's fans. Next time please sell it cheaper, because the CD is not worth it. (I don't mean the music).

Now back to the album. When I read on Tarja's blog, that one of the guests on the forthcoming album will be Van Canto, I was like OMG NO! I heard their Wishmaster cover and I find this "RIDDILY DIDILY DIDILY DIDILY DUM DUM" not very appealing (JUST MY OPINION). I heard Anteroom of Death before the whole album. Yet it was missing 30sec so my only wish was, not the "riddily didily dum dum" part. When I heard the album version of Anteroom I was glad that the part was missing, yet I found the intro quite strange. The whole song works pretty damn good though. I think, Van Canto did really great job! I hope Tarja will continue composing "crazy" song such as this one.
Until My Last Breath - in my opinion one of a "must" songs aka riadio friendly. Nothing really to write about this piece.
I Feel Immortal - I like album version better than the single version. Also I am curious, what the original song sounds like, since Tarja herself said she had to rewrite it. I think it is one of the better ballads on this album. I LOVE the video! The nature is simply magnificent.
In for a Kill - it took me a while to appreciate this song. When I heard it for the first time, Tarja and only orchestra, I was negative about it. The Bond theme and quite fast tempo. I didn't like it. Now it belongs to my favourite songs although now I miss the fast tempo, I got simply used to it.
Underneath - in my opinion this song should be entirely piano version.
Little Lies - I simply dislike this song. Why? The chorus. I can't understand why she butchered the song with the chorus. In my opinion "The Crying Moon" would fit better to the album than Little Lies.
Rivers of Lust - I mostly skip this one. It makes me sleepy all the time and I find it bit boring.
Dark Star - it's nice to see, that Tarja wants also duets on her albums, but Mr. Labonte doesn't do it for me. Sorry. Another track which I skip.
Falling Awake - was it really necessary to compose 3 different guitar solos for just 1 song? I am still confused who play on which version of this song. I can't help myself, but I always feel like "yeah let's go dance" when I hear this song.
The Archive of Lost Dreams - this one won the most boring track competition in my opinion. It's long, the 1 minute long piano part feels like eternity for me. Another track which I skip.
Now the last one on my album is Crimson Deep. As I already wrote, from all of the songs, which were played during the Warming tour this one is THE ONE for me! I don't mind the length, 7:35, at all! In my opinion this song represents Tarja in all her beauty. It shows her ability to sing pretty high but also deep. When I took part in the poll, which of the new songs fans like the most on the official WS site I gave this song 15 points, the maximum. I was quite disappointed when I found out that it got only 3809 points and ended up on 9th position. Nevermind it will definitely remain as one of my all time favourite Tarja's songs!
Still of the Night - the only part I am able to listen to is the orchestral part. Sorry but this cover should never be done.
We Are - ehm.....2:10-3:41 the part I am really fond of. I absolutely don't mind, that it's not on my CD.
Naiad - another disappointment when I saw the results of the poll. I think it's simply great track and I would change it for The Archive of Lost Dreams at any time. I have this great feeling of being under water whenever I listen to it. It makes me feel so relaxed and brings back memories from the Durdle Door in Lulworth in England.
If You Believe - I already heard it at the gig back in 2009 and my opinion didn't change at all. It remains as a ballad, which I don't listen to at all.
The last one Montañas de Silencio - now I am not surprised that it ended up on the last position in the poll. It didn't and I really think it won't ever attract my attention. I find this song dull. Nothing really to offer just "aaaahhha....aaahhahahha...wooooh". Not my cuppa tea.
I almost forgot The Crying Moon - great track, despite having 2 version out there. I like guitars, drums, piano, singing simply everything about this song. Such a pity that it's not included on the album.

Now I hope you managed to read it until the end :) It's quite long I know but well why not. If Tarja continues with composing songs such as "Anteroom of Death", "In for a Kill", "Crimson Deep", "Naiad" or "The Crying Moon" I'll be the happiest person out there! Not that I don't want to hear some ballads from her, but I don't enjoy her voice that much when I listen to ballads. I will give 3 out of 5 though. What Lies Beneath is a significant step forward and I am already looking forward to the next album. Tarja is great singer, talented composer so I don't think she will disappoint us in the future. As soon as she'll be somewhere nearby (2 gigs were supposed to be in December in my country, but due to the stupid promoter they are cancelled now and won't ever be done again) I will definitely go. It's a "must go". :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

CD Review: "Delta" by Visions of Atlantis

Today, Visions of Atlantis released it's fourth studio album, their first CD with new vocalist Maxi Nil, who hails from Greece. I've always liked VoA and was a particular fan of their first singer, Nicole Bogner. But times change, and their second singer, Melissa Ferlaak, previously of Aesma Daeva, left the band back in 2008 after the 2007 release of VoA's third album, Trinity.

The samples I'd heard of Delta had sounded really promising, even though VoA seemed to be taking a different route with their female lead, following the kind of disturbing trend of abandoning classical vocals for a more rock style. When the band released a lengthier sample of Delta's first single, "New Dawn", I thought Maxi sounded really good and strong, so I was optimistic.

The short story is this: I got hold of the album this morning and have listened to it four times, twice at the gym. This album is great, probably my favourite VoA album to date, and I can also say that it's a great work-out companion for boring cardio days.

The album starts out fast, symphonic, and driving, with great guitar work, great harmonies, and a generally great vibe. Male lead vocalist Mario Plank sounds edgier and stronger, and Maxi impresses by sounding like she completely belongs in the world of VoA, her style and tone matching very well with Mario's. I think they compliment each other very well, and that's one thing I enjoy about this album over all. There seems to be a chemistry between them that really comes through.

Maxi seems to have a versatile voice with quite a bit of range, which becomes apparent in the second track, "Memento." In my opinion it's the best track on the album. Clocking in at well over 6:30 minutes in length with several distinct sections to the whole song, I think this is VoA's most progressive song in four albums.

Other notable songs are "Twist of Fate," the ballad "Reflection" and the radio-friendly but catchy and totally listenable "New Dawn." There is also an instrumental piece called "Sonar." I think the complexity of the music has increased since the last album, and I enjoyed VoA's amazing vocal harmonies, something that was always their strength.

I am not missing the classical vocal style. I think Maxi suits this music very well and she is really able to pull off the emotion, sensitivity, and power this genre requires. I was impressed.

Delta delivers from beginning to end. It's strong from intro to outro. It's fantastic symphonic power metal and I think it's a huge step forward for VoA. Great going guys and horns up! \m/
Here is "New Dawn" for you to listen to.

Introducing Lizzie

We are going to have a new writer around here! Eric is super busy with work and school, and I am pretty busy myself these days with various projects, so Lizzie offered to help out with content here on the old blog.

I met Lizzie about a year and a half ago on Metal From Finland, and we've been fast internet friends since. I am totally looking forward to reading what she has to say and having a new voice on the blog.

Welcome Lizzie! Have fun!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Metal from Canada: NinjaSpy

Always on the lookout for new stuff, and quite randomly tonight I found out about these guys, NinjaSpy. I have a non-metalhead friend (well, most of my friends are non-metalheads) who is going to see this band tomorrow night in Victoria, BC. I had never heard of them until we were talking on the phone tonight & he mentioned he was trecking over to the island on the ferry to take in the show.

You gotta love and its tagging system. Ska-core? Wow. That is a new term for me! Here is their page so you can check them out for yourself.

So, they originate from good old British Columbia, as does yours truly, have one album out called Pi Nature, and are described as "skankore" or hardcore/ska. Also tagged on as hardcore, experimental, and avantgarde. They have signed with a Japanese label.

I wonder what my non-metal friend is going to think of this? :D I'm not a big fan of anything -core, not to mention reggae or ska, so they are not my cup of tea. They look really energetic on stage though, and there are some interesting elements in one of their songs, "Evolution of the Skid", that includes some brass sections.

You can check them out further on their web site here, or on YouTube, here.

Nightwish's Imaginarium CD: 2012

Oh, Nightwish, you will be the death of me, I swear.

In a recent interview, Tuomas said the new CD, Imaginarium, probably won't be released until early 2012. Ugh. What a tick off!

The interview is here.

I had a feeling this would happen when the movie was announced along with its expected 2012 release date.

OK, the movie is a neat idea and all that, but really, I'm more interested in the CD and it would be nice to just get the thing out so us die-hards can listen to the music and not have to wait for God-knows how long for the movie release. This album has been delayed for so long already (remember, during the DPP tour, that Tuomas had said there would be a new NW album in late 2010, then it was late 2011).

I am starting to get a sinking feeling that this could go on and on and on...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nightwish Snippets

Nightwish posted this today.

Sounding epic!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Midnattsol: The Metamorphosis Melody Trailer

Midnattsol released this today. The video is a bit cheesy, but I'm OK with that. Just another in a long list of CDs coming out this spring I'm really looking forward to!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Within Temptations "Faster" - Live & Acoustic

For some reason, the site won't let me copy the code to embed the video here, but here is the link to Within Temptation peforming a live, acoustic version of their new song, "Faster." Gotta say, I really dig it.

In other news, the band announced today that they're performing once concert in the States in September, in New York City on the 10th. I have so say I was kind of disappointed to hear this; the buzz they'd been creating on FB had me hoping that there would be a North American tour, and I'd hoped that that would include some dates in larger centres I could conceivably travel to.

Alas, no. Sigh...

Edit a few minutes later: Ana Mladinovici, the singer of Magica, just posted this video on her FB page. It's a 6 minute+ preview of all the songs on WT's The Unforgiven. Woo-hoo! Very cool!

Awesome! The album sounds totally rockin' from what this video indicates!

UPDATE: Finally, I found a YT video of the acoustic version of "Faster" mentioned above. Here it is:

There is also an acoustic version of "Where is the Edge". Man, Sharon is the loveliest pregnant mamma ever, I just have to say.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Crimfall News

Wow, so far it's been a great morning of metal news! Crimfall has just announced a release date for their upcoming album, The Writ of Sword. Spinefarm records will release the CD on March 23. Woo-hoo! I have been waiting forever for this and I am so excited. I just hope I can get a copy in Canada within a reasonable amount of time.

EDIT @ 9:21am: Oh what the hell! I pre-ordered the CD. It came to 18.80 Euros, which translated into $25.50, including shipping. I just hope the mail is freaking quick and it doesn't take a month like the Tarja CD that came from New York City.

Nightwish's Big News

OK...Anette just announced this on her blog, it's on NW's official site, so it's a go!

Here is the announcement:

In the midst of recording a new album, Nightwish has been preparing a movie.

"Imaginarium" is a music fantasy - film based on the forthcoming Nightwish album of the same title and its 13 songs.
The protagonist of the film is a songwriter with an otherworldly imagination. He is an old man who still thinks he`s a young boy. While asleep he travels into his distant past where his dreams of old come back to him mixed to the young boy`s world of fantasy and music.

In his dreams the old man fights to find the memories most important to him.

This never-done-before project originates to more than two years in the past when Tuomas first introduced his ambitious idea of the Imaginarium - concept to the fellow band members and to Mr. Stobe Harju, the director behind "The Islander" - music video. He will be the director of this full-length feature. The film will be produced by Solar Films Inc. together with Nightwish.

The shootings for "Imaginarium" will begin this spring, it will have its premiere in 2012 and the album it`s based on will be released in an undefined point in time.

Nightwish will hold a press conference related to this project at the end of February.

Well, holy shit! This is not what I had been expecting. I was expecting a significant ramping up of the symphonic elements in their music, perhaps some kind of Nightwish symphony with all the bells & whistles (minus an operatic singer, that is). I was expecting some kind of grand concept. But never in my dreams had I ever thought of a movie - a full-length feature to boot - based on the album concept. Holy shit. I am now so stoked for the next CD I can barely stand it.

And look at the poster! It's cool!

One thing concerns me, however, this line: "The shootings for "Imaginarium" will begin this spring, it will have its premiere in 2012 and the album it`s based on will be released in an undefined point in time."

I do believe Tuomas had said the release of the CD would be at the end of 2011. Has it now been delayed even further, to coincide with the 2012 release of the movie? I certainly hope not!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CD Review: Sirenia's The Enigma of Life

This is Sirenia's follow-up to the rather ho-hum, not to mention short, The 13th Floor, and after that disappointing effort, I really didn't have any huge expectations about The Enigma of Life.

I have listened to this album several times though, and I can't shake this overwhelming feeling of ambivalence I have in reaction to what I hear.

On the first listen, I was prepared to write a semi-positive review; my initial reaction was of pleasant surprise. The album was better than I was expecting. For one thing, it's longer. For another, you cannot beat Morten Veland when it comes to creating catchy, hooky hooks. There is a much larger symphonic element present in EoL, which for me is a positive. Ailyn sounds good.

But on the fourth or fifth listen, the Morten Forumla starts to grate and an overwhelming sense of genericism settles in. The songs start to all sound the same: same structures, same choirs, same...everthing. At this point, it's hard to tell the tracks apart because they are so similar-sounding.

Veland can't seem to get beyond the verse-chorus-verse-chorus-guitar solo-choir-growling-chorus format. OK sometimes he varies it to verse-chorus-verse-choir-growling-solo-chorus. However it goes, the variations are slight.

I do have to say that the songs are just a tad more complex than they were in The 13th Floor, and for the most part they are longer than the previous album's 3:30 average length, yet they are still overly radio-friendly.

I enjoyed that there is a Spanish song on here, "Oscura Realidad", though it is sung to the same music as the first track, "The End of It All." Other songs I enjoyed were "A Seaside Serenade" and "Winter Lake."

Eye-roll inducing songs were "Fallen Angel," which just contained some terribly cliche lyrics and imagery, and "Darkened Days to Come" for similar reasons and because it was slightly cheesy.

My version contained a bonus track with an acoustic version of "The Enigma of Life," which was OK.

I do like Ailyn's voice. It's not bad at all, but again, I have some ambivalence: is it the right voice for the music, or is she kinda wasting her pipes with mediocre material? I just don't know.

All in all, it's a better album than The 13th Floor, and I am a sucker for catchy, hooky hooks, so that I liked. I just wish Morten could vary his formula more and perhaps move on to some less tired subject matter. There is a lot of great Gothic metal out there that isn't totally about internal doom & gloom. Yeah, you have to look a bit harder for it, but it does exist. Which is probably why I've grown out of Sirenia; Where Angels Fall has it going on, as does Akoma, as does Satyrian, etc.

As usual, just my two cents, for what they're worth. Horns neither up nor down for this one.

Visions of Atlantis: Delta Trailer Released

I just found this on Facebook, released by VoA's record company, Napalm. The music sounds really good, and I like Maxi's voice. Still, I wonder, why did they go with a non-classical vocalist this time? This seems to be a trend amongst some of my long-time favourite bands. But if it works, it works. As long as it does work. From what I've heard of Delta so far, it seems to work. Very much looking forward hearing the whole album, which is released in Europe Feb. 25.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Borealis Update

I have posted before about my love for Canadian power metal outfit Borealis. Word was last summer that their new album would be released last fall, and I was disappointed when it was announced there would be a delay. However, the end of the looooooong wait is nigh! Fall from Grace will be released May 20 worldwide, though you lucky guys over in Japan will have it April 13.

The band recently announced that it's signed some record deals, too (they were previously unsigned). They signed a worldwide deal with Finland's Lion Music and a deal with Hydrant Music/EMI Music in Japan. This is excellent news!

On the HR front, guitarist Ken Fobert announced his departure from the band in December, and I have not seen an announcement regarding a replacement yet.

Today, the band released a substatial 6 minute+ teaser for the upcoming release, and it sounds fantastic! I can't wait to hear the whole thing start to finish!

Enjoy, and rock on Borealis! I see great things in your future! \m/

Edit Feb.8: embedding of the video has been disabled, so here is the link.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Come Cover Me: "Over the Hills & Far Away"

Alas, I didn't know the work of Gary Moore well apart from this song, which I only ever knew because of Nightwish's cover. I noticed on YouTube someone saying this is a traditional song that Gary Moore covered. Not so; for info on the traditional song of the same name, you can go here, and the traditional tune can be heard here (it's loud, just so you're warned).

Gary Moore died today at the age of 58.

Here is the original of "Over the Hills and Far Away", which was a big hit back in the 1980s (the decade in which I was apparently living under a rock):

Swedish Viking metal band, Thyrfing, did a pretty good cover that appeared on their album Urkaft.

Actually, now that I am listening to some Thyrfing, I am kinda digging them...I do enjoy Viking metal a lot...

Anyway, here is probably the best known cover, done by Nightwish. I do think this is one of Tuomas's best covers, and Tarja is just completely majestic here. Not a bad video, too, and I think I've been to the place where they filmed this, though my memory of it is a bit foggy since I was very ill when I was travelling in Scandinavia and for some reason, tragically, Finland was the place where my memories are dimmest.

My reaction to the Ozzy Super Bowl Ad

Okay, I know how many metalheads and Ozzy fans are so pissed off about this, but I just have to get it out there to talk about it.

I just got done seeing the Super Bowl ad, and while I thought that it was a bad move by Ozzy to do a commerical with Justin Bieber, that overproduced, one hit wonder that will be forgotten once he gets older, I think that this is nothing new to the table. I heard of these rumors about a week ago, and while I knew it was true that he was going to do a commerical with that kid, I was not surprised at all!

Ozzy Osbourne will always be known as being the godfather of our great genre of heavy metal no question, but him being a "sellout" is not such a new thing anyways. Remember "The Osbournes"? Yes, it was a reality TV show feeding off of the current craze of a tired and oversaturated television genre. That show was nothing more than doing what other similar shows were doing at that time! It was all about making a profit, and that is what this ad was all about too!

Honestly, I think his wife Sharon is behind most of these ideas anyways. I don't think Ozzy has much say over what goes on about how they want to make money. Sharon recently has become such a popular TV icon, appearing on her own talk show (which got cancelled), and is now appearing on all sorts of stuff like "America's Got Talent" or "The Talk". So her popularity (and her greed in my opinion) is the result of something like doing a Super Bowl ad with that kid who will be forgotten in a few years. She probably thinks that she needs to gain a big profit from Justin before he will lose his popularity and his profitability.

It is unfortunate that someone as important to metal as Ozzy has to sink so low into something like this. But let's not forget what the circumstances are and that his wife is more about the money and fame than he is right now, and that he hardly has much say in any of this. I don't think this is any real reason to lose sleep over or to stop listening to Ozzy's music.

Feel free to leave comments and start a discussion! :D