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Review of “Time Stands Still” by Unleash the Archers 2015

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Time Stands Still Out June 26th

 

I have no idea why, but of all the new bands coming out lately, Unleash the Archers has stuck with me the most. Their past releases have also vastly impressed me. There is a very refined and powerful quality to this band, exhibiting the same qualities I admire in Hammerfall, Blind Guardian, and Battle Beast. Unleash the Archers is 100% Traditional Heavy Metal. No effects, no vague message, no overkill of production; Just Metal. I admire that simplicity in 2015, as many bands has taken a liking to overproduction or underproduction. Unleash the Archers is easily becoming one of my favorites because of this simplicity. “Time Stands Still” is their bombastic and fiery new album, pulsing with melody and vast speed. The melodic tones on this album are similar to Iron Maiden’s style of melody, with Hammerfall like speed. Comparisons aside, this album is a fantastic take on Traditional Heavy Metal and unlike anything I’ve heard. Songs like Tonight We Ride, Test Your Metal, and Going Down Fighting rage with technicality and enough emotion to blow your head off. I was so surprised and impressed by the quality of every track on this album. If you liked Unleash the Archers’ previous records, then get ready for a massive upgrade in sound. The vocals are higher and pushed to the limit. The guitars chug and scream above the melody. The drums stay tight and act as a constant rhythm, much like machine gun fire. This album thrives in older sounds, but keeps it modern. I could go on and foam over this album for the next five pages (Sorry about the Nightwish review… that was ranty) but I want to keep this review to the theme of the album. While Unleash the Archers could’ve gone into a more complicated writing technique, they succeeded in a simple but mind blowing album. They could have made more songs like General of the Dark Army, which would have pleased me, but they did something completely new. From what I hear, the band has truly found their sound and nearly perfected it. Rating; 9/10

 

Time Stands Still

 

Links:

http://www.unleashthearchers.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/UnleashTheArchers

http://shop.napalmrecords.com/unleashthearchers

Pyramaze’s “Disciples of the Sun” 2015

 

From the mysterious and quiet country of Denmark, a group of masters were born into the world.  These Danish masters became known from the brilliant music they forge through infinite passion and the greatest of creativity.  This band of masters of Progressive and all clean genres of Metal is none other than Pyramaze.  A band born in 2001 by Michael Kammeyer, a fantastic guitarist, has had many strifes and changes.  Michael of course parted in 2010 along with original bassist Niels Kvist.  That left drummer Morten and keyboardist Jonah to continue the band’s powerful prowess.  Of course they were never alone with guitarist Toke and now Jacob Hansen, and many vocalist changes.  Each vocalist took their own spin in Pyramaze, all succeeding in quality and powerful vocals.  Previous vocals were quality, but none as passionate as new vocalist Terje Haroy.

 

Terje is spectacular on “Disciples of the Sun” as well as a solid full band effort.  The album is synchronized chaos with perfect grooves and riffs.  I honestly have trouble putting how good this album and why it is so good into words.  The nonstop pounding drums and riffs are incredibly energetic and ecstatic with technical ability.  It’s just pure unadulterated talent throughout the entire album.  Songs like  Battle of the Paridas are heavy and exciting with melodic riffs and perfect rhythm, where Disciples of the Sun puts the vocals front and center.  The vocals on this track and the album are the most solid I’ve heard from Pyramaze yet.  Musically “Disciples of the Sun” is a different direction for Pyramaze and I think it is a brilliant direction.

 

Rating; 9/10

 

One of the best albums of 2015

PRO-PAIN Mosh With a New Album

If you like moshing, angry, and thrashing music, Pro-Pain is probably in your wheelhouse.  They put out shredding and malicious Metal with a voice.  Their music is a soundtrack to an angry protest with passion.  They have found success in their voice of reason, allowing them to continue on with new album “Voice of Rebellion”.  This is not unlike music I listen to, but it certainly differing from your typical Metal album.  Pro-Pain have shredding guitars, pounding drums, grunty and chesty growls, and occasionally some rap lines.  I’d hate to use genres to describe their sound, but it is somewhere along the lines of Nu-Metal with Thrash influences.  At least, that’s what their new album exudes.

 

“Voice of Rebellion” is an album I’d expect to be featured in a videogame or a highly popular action film.  It’s your typical angry and shredding modern Metal album, just with politics dropped like an awkward f-bomb in a peaceful setting.  I enjoy political themes integrated into Metal, some of my most favorite bands use politics to fuel their music.  However, the reason I enjoy their form of political lyrics is because they’re vastly intelligent and can apply to many different things.  Pro-Pain took what could’ve been a decent mainstream album and ruined it with unintelligible lyrics.  These political and “influential lyrics” and just strewn into mediocre Metal.  There are so many better ways to use themes and issues in music.  While some of the vocals are good and the guitar solos are exciting, the content of the album is flat.  None of it means anything to me.

 

While “Voice of Rebellion” may be good for soundtracks used for 30 seconds in another boring mediocre action film or a clip used in a new trailer for Call of Duty 40: The most mediocre reiteration, it has little else to offer.  If this band plans to continue, they will have to reinvent themselves and use their influences in a more outright way.  If you can not pull people in with your message and just right mosh music, you won’t last long.

Immortal Guardian Shred With “Revolution Part 1”

Immortal Guardian Shred With “Revolution Part 1”

Guitar and keyboard virtuoso Gabriel Guardian has brought Power Metal back to America with high quality writing and Traditional Metal values.  This guy can shred like nothing I’ve heard in America.  In Immortal Guardian, technicality comes first in all areas of music, something European bands take pride in.  This self made Texas based band has a lot to prove by making this kind of music here, and I think “Revolution Part 1” is a start, but only a small drop in the bucket.

 

Regardless if you have a guitar virtuoso, there’s so many other qualities that are key in good Power Metal.  I look for powerful and large ranged vocalists, something front man Carlos Rema definitely has.  However, I find the vocals inconsistent and not always in the pocket.  It throws the whole sound off, especially on tracks like Walk Alone.  I expected a lot better quality of music overall.  I dislike the transitions between verses and choruses as well, it sounds rushed and unrehearsed.  I love the piano and whenever the vocals are on and also the amazing guitar work, but the drums ruin the whole thing for me.  The way the drums are recorded or mixed sound canned and often do not match the rhythm.  The drums just do not fit with the music.  I imagine the band worked very hard on this and it is a shame how bad the drums sound.  The only song I can stand to listen to is Beyond the Skies, it sounds the least canned of all the tracks.

 

Overall, it’s a good EP and a good part to a new and fresh album.  I would say that the production quality is lacking and I would have liked to hear another take on a lot of these songs.  If the drums are machined into the music, then I would honestly suggest taking a little more time to mix them in correctly.  In the 21st century with amazing music engineering, there is no excuse for such a bad mix on what could have been a great record.  Fear Factory used a drum machine on their last release and it sounded perfect.  I had no idea the drums were machined until someone told me.  Sometimes the vocals sound like Iron Maiden karaoke as well.  The lack of anything new or unique in this record is a disappointment to the classification to Power Metal.  I am disappointed in this release and expected a better quality record.  Regardless of if you’ve toured with Judas Priest or not, a good record is important to keep going.  Immortal Guardian better pull something big out with the next part of “Revolution”.

New Metal Out Now 5/27/2015

     Russian Power Metal band, Distant Sun has released two new blazing tracks on No Clean Singing.  Their new album Dark Matter comes out May 30th http://www.nocleansinging.com/2015/05/26/an-ncs-premiere-distant-sun-zero-to-hero-and-shattered-empire/

 

Third Ion, a Canada based band featuring former members of The Devin Townsend Band, have a debut Prog Metal album out now!  The album is similar to bands like Tesseract and Star One.  It is interesting music with melodic touches and technicality.  You can buy 13/8 Bit on Itunes or stream their new album on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/5i36LCaxZfR2RrbENsfsIi

 

Southern Death Metal band, Coathanger Abortion, has a new album out June 2nd called, Observations of Humanity.  They are currently streaming 2 new exclusive songs here: http://www.apochs.net/as-coathangerabortion-mediamindsnare/

If you want something even heavier, Psychomancer now has a brutal psychological mutilation EP out now.  Inject The Worms is short and pounding all the way through.  If you like your Death Metal supremely gorey and unintelligible, then definitely stream this EP on Spotify.

Miami Based Prog Metal band Cave of the Swimmers has a new single out featuring four exclusive songs.  Reflection is an oddity with mysterious and elusive sounds, requiring imagination and personal thought provoking relations.  The instrumentation is unique, but lacks quality in the vocals.  If you like Opeth, this band may be right up you alley.  You can also stream Refleciton on Spotify.

 

Progressive and Dark Metal band, Shroud of Despondency, have a new independently released album out on Bandcamp.  It is the last chapter for the band in their creepy and elusive journey.  Two people alone record and produce all of the music heard throughout each album.  It is raw Black Metal with Prog influences, like Opeth mixed with Behemoth and Frostland Darkness.  The imperfections are what make this album so raw and beautiful. https://shroudofdespondency.bandcamp.com/album/family-tomb

Of course, there is more Black Metal to be devoured in 2015 with I am the Trireme’s new album Gnosis:Never Follow the Light.  This band combines Gore Metal and Melodic Death into the same album and intensifies it to a new level.  I highly suggest this album for Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, and Insomnium fans.  You can check out the album and more of the band here: http://www.iamthetrireme.com/music/

Nihilistinen Barbaariusuus is a lot to take in and impossible to spell, but their new album The Child Must Die is as Finnish and as Black Metal as it gets.  Of course the quality isn’t up to par with Behemoth or Watain, but it is educational.  The Child Must Die is based on an old Finnish mythical text called “The Kalevala”.   Stream this mystical and brutal album here: https://nihilistinenbarbaarisuus.bandcamp.com/album/the-child-must-die

North Dakota Death Metal band Frosthelm have a killer new song out right now with a great symbolical video.  Their new album The Endless Winter is also out now for purchase on Itunes.  Stream the video here: http://www.nocleansinging.com/2015/05/20/an-ncs-video-premiere-frosthelm-silent-and-dark-the-everlasting-sky/

Crytopsy have a new album dropping soon, but require some fans’ help to drop the album and tour in the US.  Crytopsy are a Death and Thrash Metal band with a lot of Brutality to offer.  Check out a video for their campaign to come to the USA here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QsHUaq8MJQ

Progressive Metal band NECK OF THE WOODS hailing from Vancouver has a debut EP dropping May 30th, but you can purchase it now!  https://neckofthewoods.bandcamp.com/

Boston Made Death Metal band Dysentery are streaming a new slamming album here: http://decibelmagazine.com/blog/2015/5/14/are-you-feeling-queasy-dysentery-paranoid-division-premiere

 

“Memories From the Future” by Jaded Star

 

2015 Album from Jaded Star

2015 Album from Jaded Star

Powerful Greek and Symphonic Metal vocalist Maxi Nil recently teamed up with ex-Iced Earth drummer Raphael Saini and others.  This collaboration has forged new American signed band Jaded Star and their new album “Memories From the Future”.  The band also features bassist and synthesizer artist Babis Nikou of Dia Mageias and Neoclassical guitarist Kosta Vreto.  If you know anything about the Greeks, you know they usually go big with anything and everything.  Jaded Star has huge sound and unique touches that set them apart from a lot of Hard Rock bands out there today.  It’s difficult to categorize this band amongst other bands.  I’d say they have touches of Nemesea, Delain, Halestorm, Evanescence, and Triosphere.  However, I am definitely not comparing.  Jaded Star is a new band and this is their debut album.  They are just starting out and finding their styles and grooves.

 

“Memories of the Future” is a plethora of melodic and heavy tracks with excellent emotion and tight grooves.  It is rare for a band to show such tightness and chemistry on just the first album.  I was surprised by the quality of some tracks like Wake Up, In Memory, and You’ll See.  Those three tracks just ebb and flow very well between soft and heavy touches.  The vocals are so effortless and flawless as well as some really solid technical guitar riffs.  The solos make the music sound a little heavier too which help set this band apart.  Also, the album is mixed really well to wear the bass and low ends stand out and balance Maxi’s higher range.  Raining in Sao Paulo stands out eloquently as well with some 80s style synths and lower vocals, building into a serious jam.

 

Each track sounds like a low tuned anthem with some darker touches.  No the album is not outstanding, but it is surprisingly good for a debut album.  Maxi Nil is a really stellar vocalist with mad range and a soothing voice.  The rest of the band is really solid and fit together nicely.  It doesn’t sound over rehearsed or over produced either.  This album is not the greatest of the year by any means, but if Jaded Star continue and grow, their albums to come will be spectacular.  I feel like it was just a test album to get their name out and start developing as a band, which is incredibly smart marketing.  Next album I hope they use more of Maxi’s range and Kosta gets a little more star time.  I feel like Kosta was only getting started with this album.  Overall it’s a good album and worth a listen, but I’m not rushing out to buy it.

 


Rating: 6/10

 

https://www.facebook.com/jadedstarofficial

 

http://www.amazon.com/Memories-Future-Jaded-Star/dp/B00U16MBRI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431636181&sr=8-1&keywords=jaded+star

 

The Bleakness by Secret Revealed

 

German hardcore band, A Secret Revealed, is typically described with the ever puzzling tag of “Post Metal”.  The meaning of this genre is a mystery to me and how it fits with A Secret Revealed is beyond me.  I would describe the band as being similar to Devil Wears Prada, The Acacia Strain, and Upon The Water.  They have an all out wailing vocalist and guitarists heroically attempting to balance out these harsh vocalists.  To compare this band to the ones I listed above is a stretch.  While the melodic side of A Secret Revealed is interesting, I find the overall quality of the music to be lacking greatly.   From what I have heard so far from this band, their name is very fitting to the lack of diversity in their music.  So, my hopes are not very high for their new album.

 

A Secret Revealed’s new album “The Bleakness” is an album for hardcore Metal fans that thrive on the murderous chaos of an angry pit.  This album is not for the weak or the Metal fans who like any clean vocals.  In fact, I would say this band has a very small target audience for their music.  Hardcore is an ever growing genre throughout the world.  While I don’t understand or appreciate the genre or what “Post Metal” is supposed to be, I feel it’s fair to give this album an unbiased review.  As a fan of Death Metal, I look for certain characteristics to grasp onto.  These characteristics help me decide whether or not I like it.  A Secret Revealed lacks all of these likable aspects of a good Death Metal band.

 

Firstly, I look for a mix of deep grunts and high pitched screams or pleasant melodic clean vocals.  This band only illustrates one type of screaming, added with constant straining and lack of dynamics.  The “growler” has absolutely no range in his screams and sounds like he is burning from the inside out.  Then, I look for fast and technical guitars with a melodic break down.  The guitars aren’t bad and do have melodic riffs throughout each track, but do not differ from any other mainstream Modern Metal band.  Thirdly I look for an interesting depressive theme in the lyrical content and throughout the music.  While “The Bleakness” illustrated outright pain, anger, and distress, I find it impossible to make an emotional connection.  Overall, this album goes against my grain as a Metal fan.  It is not that it is too heavy for me, but it lacks everything I love and have a passion for in Metal.

 

Overall Rating: 1/10- No Dynamics, Abysmal Vocals, Boring Guitars, Over Distorted.

 

Listen for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yftB3NK_Ng

Ten Years of Epica: Retrospect and Personal Retrospective

 

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Since Epica announced a 10 year Anniversary show immortalized into a live DVD, I have gone to great lengths to get my hands on this show.  People may not know that I am an extremely devoted Epica fan.  Delain may be my favorite Symphonic Metal band as of now, but I believe Epica is my favorite band of that genre.  If I had not seen Epica live in 2012 on their headlining tour, my music taste and knowledge would not be half of what it is today.  Of all the bands I consider in my top ten favorites, Epica may be the most critical band to my music taste.  They are vastly important to me in ways that I cannot put into words in a single post.  They are life altering to me and so many people.  Because of their lyrical content and passion for nothing but the music they so expertly compose, thousands of people from all over the world honor this band.

 

I had never been so impressed by a band in concert before Epica.  I was reluctant to go to this show originally, because they weren’t my favorite at the time and I didn’t know the other bands.  I went solely to support my brother, who is not ironically the biggest influence in my music taste.  Somehow, he always knows what bands are the best for me, even if it takes me years to appreciate them.  He knew that seeing Epica and the other bands were in my best interest, and thank every god in existence that he was right.  That show began my crusade and journey through European Metal and every subgenre to go with it.  After that show, I was inspired to research Metal on a deeper level and create a blog sharing my knowledge with the world.  Because of Epica and the incredible show they put on, I found a new purpose to dedicate my time to.  That is extremely powerful.

 

I feel like I’ve been on a journey with this band from the first time I heard Storm the Sorrow and experienced it live.  It was very important that I at least see “Retrospect” on a DVD as soon as possible.  Due to a recall of the first run of the DVD, shipping costs, and lack of availability in my area I was forced to wait two years to see it.  Finally on vacation I picked up the DVD at a local record store in Denver.  I watched it on a Sunday night with my family, insisting they at least experience this band once in such a personal way.  It’s no doubt that I would love this live concert celebrating 10 amazing years of Epica, but I never expected to be reviewing it so highly.

 

“Retrospect” is a concert that celebrates and showcases Epica’s music over a decade of existence.  In 2013, it was the 10 year anniversary of “The Phantom Agony”, Epica’s very first album.  It was the perfect time to celebrate the special occasion.  The band brought back the same 70 piece orchestra they used for “The Classical Conspiracy”, Hungarian Remenyi Ede Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of Miskolc National Theatre.  This concert is unique to other Metal shows with orchestras, because Epica typically collaborates with choirs and orchestras on their albums.  Also I was surprised to find that keyboardist and main writer, Coen Janssen, arranged 99% of the music performed.  I find it amazing that the band had a hand in every single part of the show.  It’s the most authentic version of Epica I have seen yet.

 

The band perfectly constructed a show melding the new and old favorites.  They began the 170 minute concert with Monopoly on Truth, one of my absolute favorite tracks off of “Requiem For the Indifferent”.  They jump back in time with Sensorium, then a little forward with Unleashed and Martyr of the Free Word.  Unleashed is no doubt one of Epica’s live tracks, especially with the huge addition of a full orchestra.  The power Epica provides has already wowed and awed you into a state of shock by the time they settle into another gorgeous melody.  Chasing The Dragon performed live is a level of musical perfection I have only experienced a handful of times.  They follow such a brilliant track with Presto, a dueling battle between lead violinist an Isaac Delahaye.  This solo track is expertly performed as Yngwie Malmsteen intended Classical music and Metal to be combined.  They rage on with Never Enough, then a brilliant operatic duet between Simone and special guest Floor Jansen.  They expertly perform a favorite of Simone’s, Stabat Mater Dolorosa and show off their exquisite ranges.   Epica follows up with the touching ballad and soundtrack Twin Flames, beautifully ebbing and flowing with an absolutely brilliant melody.

 

By far Serenade of Self Destruction is one of the best Epica songs, and of course they play it masterfully live with a raging passion.  I absolutely love this song and the live version is on a whole different level.  It seems to be darker and more untamed, the band coming undone in such a perfect way.  They also bring Floor back out for the heavy thrashing jam, Sancta Terra, becoming even more mesmerizing.  They continue on, showcasing more of the orchestra’s talent as well as Coen’s signature sound for Epica.  They also perform a song especially written for this show called Retrospect, a tribute to the good and hard times in a decade of Epica.  Quietus was absolutely breathtaking as well on this show.

 

Overall, “Retrospect” is a DVD that will be forever hard to top in quality and wow factor.  People complain that Simone  isn’t as good live or that their light show distracts from the band.  I honestly do not understand these complaints.  Simone is one of the best vocalists I’ve seen live and puts immense emotion into her vocals.  It is rare to see such a highly regarded and trained vocalist still show passion and personality.  The ability to deliver lyrics directly to a crowd and through a screen is something that cannot be taught however, and Simone absolutely captures the audience with every word.  “Retrospect” solidifies that Epica is one of the greatest Metal bands of all time.

 

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“Haven”, Review of Kamelot’s 2015 Album

 

Artwork of Kamelot's Haven

Artwork of Kamelot’s Haven

Kamelot, a band that has forged together many forms of Metal into haunting, beautiful, and masterful melodic music is back in 2015 with a spectacular new album.  After Roy Khan had to depart from the band so sadly, theatrical power vocalist Tommy Karevik to step in.  Luckily, Kaverik was very fit for the job.  The band recorded their first album with Kaverik in 2012.  “Silverthorn” was a departure from older albums and lacked the dramatics and emotion older albums contained.  It was a bold move to change it up, certainly the guests Elize Ryd and Alissa White-Gluz helped modernize Kamelot.  It was the first album with a new vocalist, so it was really different as the band settled in.  Now, the band has found synchronicity with a new album in all its glory, “Haven”.

 

“Haven” is everything great you can expect from Kamelot; Symphonic and Neoclassical themes, dramatic theatrical vocals, an interesting theme, and amazingly talented guests.  Thomas Youngblood, Kamelot guitarist and mastermind, said “Haven” was going back to Kamelot’s emotional roots.  I loved this idea, because it keeps the band authentic even with a more modern sound.  The band going back to their roots ensured a good album was ahead.  However, “Haven” completely obliterated all expectations.  This album from start to finish is just insanely epic and so addictive.  I say addictive because of the catchy riffs, melodies, and spot on theatrically performed vocals.  They nailed this album to a cross, burnt it, then turned it into a beautiful and ornate glass vase.  Every song is just spot on with everything I want and expect from this band and so much more.

 

The album opens with heavy and smoothly flowing track Fallen Star, tight, rhythmic, and powerful in such a glorious way.  The tone in Tommy’s voice has grown exponentially, already clear from the first track.  One of the best songs on this album is no doubt Insomnia, melodic and creepy and filled with desperation.  Citizen Zero follows the Sci-fi themed album perfectly with well versed lyrics.  Not my favorite track, but it has a good rhythm to it and incorporates more Symphonic elements.  Tommy also shows some higher range and also lower range which I really enjoy.  Veil of Elysium is a track that just will not get out of my head.  Between the dramatic orchestral and synth, guitar riffs and beginning solo, and a vocal line delivered with ease.  I absolutely love the story on this song and every piece of instrumentation.  Next, is where we get to hear a brand new guest for Kamelot rip the shreds out of a romantic and saddened power ballad.  Charlotte Wessels of Delain provides the beautiful and understated vocals on Under Grey Skies.  Her and Tommy’s vocals are revolutionary together.  This song sounds like an old love tale between forbidden lovers, forged long before anything to do with Sci-Fi. It also features Troy Donockley and his excellent folk influences with pipes.  Kamelot and guests created something magnificent with this track.  This is easily one of the best songs of 2015.

 

The album continues to rage on with heavier and creepy track My Therapy, softened interlude Ecclesia, and Symphonic jam End of Innocence.  You can hear Charlotte’s excellent and gorgeous backing vocals throughout a lot of tracks.  Beautiful Apocalypse is another epic track of the album and it contains a lot of things I wanted on this album.  The level of heaviness is all over the place, keeping the album from becoming stale or monotonous.  Also the tone of Beautiful Apocalypse sounds more Gothic than any other track on the album and the vocals are spot on.  Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy) features the growls and clean vocals of maiden Alissa White-Gluz, who absolutely shreds this song and also Revolution.   These tracks are heavy, some of the heaviest music I’ve heard from Kamelot.  I love both of these tracks, because they utilize every part of the band and two guest vocalists in many ways.  It’s like a really exquisite dish done two ways, but they somehow go together in one bite.  I also love the use of Charlotte’s range throughout these tracks, yet to be wholly discovered, as well as Tommy’s range.

 

This review is just a simple overview of what “Haven” has to offer.  In simple words, it is a fantastically diverse and immensely well done Symphonic Metal album.   It is an essential album for anyone who enjoys great Metal Music and I do not see how anyone could dislike it as a whole.  I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of what Thomas, Tommy, and everyone involved with Kamelot has to show us.

 

Album Rating: 10/10- Musical Perfection

Nightwish/Sabaton/Delain At The Ogden Theater Concert Review

A minagary of devoted fans line the block of The Ogden Theater in the stunning and full city of Denver, Colorado.  Some fans sporting Nightwish shirts, others with Sabaton shirts, and even a handful with Delain shirts, all here for one thing; A fantastic Metal show.  The line was endless, fitting the title for the tour no doubt as it wrapped around the building.  The amount of fans showing up for a Symphonic Metal show in my home state made me proud.  The fact that so many fans were willing to put up with an undersized and terribly set up venue was a surprise to me.  However, no Metal fan in their right mind could pass up a lineup like this and the chance to experience Floor Jansen at the beginning of her prime.  Clearly, the fans who will forever be butt hurt over Tarja stayed home sadly.  The real Metal fans showed up that night.  All those fans were treated to one of best Metal shows the Mile High City has ever seen.

 

As a huge Delain fan (as you probably know if you follow this blog) I was ecstatic about seeing this band for the second time in 6 months.  The first time I saw them, I was mesmerized beyond anything I had experienced before.  This time, Delain only had 30 minutes to mesmerize the crowd and hook them with power and energy.  Were they as successful with a shorter set?  Not surprisingly, yes, Delain successfully pulled the crowd in with a blazingly fast set.  Even with the sound problems, shortened set, Delain were the most entertaining band of the night.  Front woman Charlotte Wessels has the incredible ability to keep eye contact with everyone in the venue at once.  Her stage presence is strong, but inviting and so exciting.  The band altogether is tight, technical, and eye catching.  They opened with the heavy and dark Mother Machine, to crowd favorites like Get The Devil Out of Me, Stardust, Not Enough, and Army of Dolls.  The crowd also got the incredible honor of Marco Hietala of Nightwish coming out for the first time on this tour for The Gathering.  The crowd exploded with cheers and screams, finally matching the noise and excitement that Delain deserves.  It was an experience I will never forget.

 

Sabaton, the legendary Power Metal band, joined this tour later in the announcements (Much to Delain fans’ chagrin) and are another crowd favorite with a fairly large following in the states.  Sabaton always put on a energetic, educational, and flawless show.  At The Ogden Theater, they played favorites like Ghost Division, Gott Mit Uns, Carolus Rex, and Primo Victoria.  That night, Sabaton were explosive and highly entertaining as they should be for the entirety of the tour, but not as good as they were on last year’s tour.  When I saw them in Denver in 2014 with Iced Earth and Revamp, the band was nonstop pounding Power Metal for at least an hour.  This 2015 Sabaton set wasn’t as tight and fluid as that particular show.  It seemed like the band was trying to impress  to hard with clearly rehearsed antics and an unnecessary comedy act.  Although Sabaton showed immense personality and had Joakim playing guitar at one point, it was a let down compared to Delain’s nonstop and fluid set.  I love Sabaton and all their music and lyrical content, but this set was disappointing.  The fans paid for a Metal show, not a variety show featuring two great Symphonic Metal bands.  Also, Sabaton’s music lacks diversity in a live setting.  My point with this critique is that Sabaton did not fit on this tour, at all.  The opening band put on a better show than the co-headliner, in my opinion.

Pioneers of Symphonic Metal, Nightwish, are known for their enchanting and powerful shows with limited added production.  They are a no frills dynamic live band with immense musicality, so my expectations were high for their show.  This was sadly my first time seeing Nightwish, making the show even more important than normal.  The last time Nightwish played at The Ogden Theater, they had no lead vocalist and the show was not up to the band’s standards.  This show was not only important to the fans, but to every member of Nightwish.  They had a lot to prove with this show, and they vastly succeeded with the quality.  The setlist was perfectly crafted to ebb and flow seamlessly besides lovely gratuitous words from Floor and Marco.  As a very first Nightwish show, you learn so much about the band through small interactions and passion filled musicianship.  Every song was epic.  Every song was beautiful and powerful.  It was almost like watching a beautiful film constructed by James Cameron, but with one hell of a soundtrack.

 

Nightwish flawlessly performed new songs like Elan, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Weak Fantasy, Yours Is An Empty Hope, opening with Shudder Before the Beautiful, and epic The Greatest Show on Earth.  Floor was vastly impressive on these new songs, showing perfect melodies and effortlessly controlled power.  Emppu also impressed me with his laser accurate guitar solos showing immense speed.  Also, you do not realize how amazing of a pianist and keyboardist Tuomas is until watching his effervescent live performance.  Marco’s vocals were absolutely spot on as Floor is able to harmonize better than any other Nightwish vocalist.  Obviously Troy’s use of many different folk instruments added a new genuine layer to the show.  The sound of Nightwish live sounds so much more authentic with Troy and Floor added to the mix.

 

The stage set up was perfect, with two large statues holding a keyboard and microphone and a unique stump made for Troy’s seat.  It was unlike any setup I had seen before.  It was very easy to see the front four members of the band.  However, the lighting at The Ogden Theater was not apt for such a large show.  I feel like drummer, KaI Hahto, was under lighted and hard to see at this particular venue.  His drumset was mammoth and included an interesting green glowing symbol.  Their effects and show design made it even more mesmerizing, but didn’t overshadow the explosive music.  The stage presence from each member was unique and intense, but appreciative and inviting.  In this small venue, it was fairly easy connect with each member.  I am very thankful for the small venue for this, even though it was very crammed and hard to get comfortable.

 

Nightwish also played crowd pleasing classics like Amaranth, She is My Sin, the beautiful The Islander, Ever Dream, I Want My Tears Back.  Most notably at this show, Floor’s rendition of older songs were absolutely mind blowing with power.  Floor meets a level of vocal perfection on Ever Dream, also pulling out Stargazers to prove her operatic prowess.  One of the greatest songs I have ever seen live is Ghost Love Score, however.  Her passion, technique, power, vulnerability, and vocal endurance on this track is legendary.  There are few singers that can perform at this level, but Floor even exceeds them after this performance.  People who underappreciated and doubt this vocalist’s talent shall be silenced after this tour setlist is immortalized on a new DVD.  Nightwish will remain the top pillar of Symphonic Metal, regardless of those who cannot accept Floor’s vocal style over the immense talent of this band.

 

To sum up this show, it’s one of the shows closest to perfection that I have ever seen in person.  I do recommend seeing all three bands, just not at The Ogden Theater.  The promoters seem to have vastly oversold this poorly setup and small venue.  It was great to be so close to the bands without being in the pit, just not great being so close to other fans packed tight.  It was the best show in the worst venue.  I can say it would take a lineup even better than this to get me to come back to this venue.  Instead, I suggest The Fillmore Auditorium, The Bluebird Theater, and Summit Music Hall.

 

Concert Rating: 9/10- Must See Tour

 

http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/nightwish/2015/ogden-theatre-denver-co-4bc8f3fe.html