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

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!