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

 

Endless Forms Most Beautiful, The Seemingly Endless Review

 

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In the enchanting forests of the dark and mysterious Finnish countryside, the greatest Symphonic Metal of all time forged a brand new album with a new enchanted front woman.  The epic soundtrack composer that is Tuomas Holopainen breathed new life into a classic and legendary band, bringing in immensely talented Floor Jansen as the new lady at the helm.  Tuomas is known for mixing Classical themes into modern Metal with legendary bassist and vocalist Marco Hietala and epic shredder Emppu Vuorinen.  The writing that goes into Nightwish albums is some of the best, like with “Once” and “Dark Passion Play”.  They write epics like no other band in the world.  Nightwish have this very distinct sound that definitely sounds masterfully crafted over the years, some might argue that sound is gone with Tarja.  This album dares to say differently.  The Finnish Symphonic Metal Band is back in 2015 with new and old sounds.

 

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is possibly the most anticipated album of the year, as it is an album with a brand new vocalist in an absolutely classic band.  The feelings about Floor Jansen, ex After Forever and current Revamp vocalist, are certainly mixed when it comes to Nightwish.  Whether people agree with her being at the helm of this band, Nightwish will do what is best for the band and the fans who will be with them to the end.  I believe the new album is enough proof that Nightwish is still the same old excellent band.  Yes, the vocals are a bit different, but the power and passion and tone of Floor fit seamlessly into the music of Tuomas and Marco.  “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is only the beginning of what Floor and company has to offer.

 

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” begins with a pounding jam with honest lyrics that kick off an emotional album from start to finish Shudder Before the Beautiful.  The vocals come out solid but so smooth and then building.  The instrumentation is electric and full with an orchestra bringing the whole jam to a new level.  Weak Fantasy is even heavier than the opener, discounting the rumours of a completely softened album with excellent harmonies from Floor and Marco.  The intensity is calmed with the beautiful and moving Elan with intricate mature melodies that is similar to Ever Dream and Amaranth’s build up.  This is a very moving track and is certainly meant to be a song you’d cherish and take from.  Yours is an Empty Hope, man this track is one of the heaviest I have heard from Nightwish yet.  It’s angry and grungy, filled with gritty vocals and deepened growls.  This song shows Floor’s more intimidating side and her ability to dramaticize a song into something more intense and epic.  My Walden is one of the most beautiful tracks on the album.  It’s complex with Celtic influences and absolutely incredible vocals.  The vulnerability of the track is what makes it so great.

 

The title track is even more complex with orchestral work all throughout and a choir ringing into the chorus.  Floor’s vocals are accurately jabbing in the pocket with differentiated volumes, ringing along with Marco’s perfect harmonizing.  The song opens up into a heavy full jam band with exquisite guitar work from Emppu.  Definitely some of the most unique riffing on this album is in this track.  Edema Ruh has a more Traditional Metal themes in a ballad-esque form.  The song is slower and contains well placed harmonies, transcending melodies to a foreign land.  It sounds like a folk song straight out of Finland with a Metal theme.  It’s absolutely brilliant.  “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” continues to mesmerize with ebbing and flowing with epicness and softness.  This is not the strongest track on the album and doesn’t contain the power or beauty the rest of the album.  The Eyes of Sharabat Gula is just a gorgeous interlude that breaks up the intensity of the album and forces you to fully enjoy every intermittent note.  It is truly a beautiful track.  However, the next track on the album is even more beautiful and as meaningful as any track on the album.

 

There are not enough words to truly describe the essence or the beauty of The Greatest Show on Earth.  In Classical Music, every composer has their epic masterpiece, dawning the highlight of their periodical reign.  The Greatest Show on Earth is Nightwish’s greatest masterpiece.  The diversity of styles, building from slow beautiful operatic into powerful grungy dark vocals and heavy instrumentation.  The brilliance of Tuomas comes out so outright in this final track as he covers millions of years of evolution in a 23 minute track.  The track even covers a musical evolution on the 13th minute.  I have never heard a more meaningful track than this one, as it includes the words of Richard Dawkins.  After the evolution of the track, it develops into a begging and merciful chorus crying out “We were here”, after that it silences and ebbs into an outro.  It leaves you in an entire new intellectual state of mind, full of emotion and ambition.  This isn’t just a track you enjoy, it is a track to survive to.

 

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful” is an album that is so beautiful and rare in its impact, I don’t think another album like it will ever come again.  Yes, not every track was all out and hammers forward, but the ballads are even better than the heavy tracks in this album.  Floor Jansen is absolutely stunning on this album.  Her vocal technique and prowess, but also passion are evolved and matured.  Tuomas brought even more flavors and approaches to her voice that accurately prove she is perfect for this band.  This album will bring Nightwish to new heights as they reinvent themselves and stun the masses with perfect composition.

 

Album Rating 10/10

 

Endless Forms Most Beautiful is currently #34 on the Billboard 200 Chart

 

The Diary: A Full Review of The Gentle Storm’s Debut Record

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The masterful wizard Arjen Lucassen is back with a whole new magical project.  The songwriter instrumentalist has been at the helm of so many incredible projects.  Star One, Ayreon, Guilt Machine, Stream of Passion, Ambeon are some of the amazing projects he has been a part of and formed.  This Prog Metal God never ceases to discover new musicians and harness their full potential.  Artists like Floor Jansen, Simone Simons, Russell Allen, Ed Warby, Damian Wilson, Tobias Sammet, and Robert Westerholt have all been magnified by the amazing producer and writer that Arjen is.  He has once again created another project with one of the best vocalists and musicians ever, Anneke Van Giersbergen.

 

Anneke is possibly one of the greatest vocalists in modern times.  Her ability to emotionally connect with a single line in a song is visionary.  Her vocal control and overall technical ability is absolutely unparalleled.  Anneke began in a Gothic 90’s Rock band, The Gathering, where she first began mesmerising music fans.  Her smooth vocal delivery and brilliant lyrics lead to a lot of attention for The Gathering.  Other artists from around the world wanted to work with her, which lead to Arjen featuring her on two Ayreon albums.  Most notably, Anneke has been featured on several Devin Townsend Project albums that are some of the best albums of all time.  Her collaborations is how I discovered her and became utterly infatuated with how she carries a melody.  Arjen Lucassen no doubt shares the same infatuation, as he brought Anneke on for an amazing project.

 

The Gentle Storm, a project utilizing more of the world’s best musicians and shining a light on the beautiful Dutch Golden Age, is unlike anything I have ever heard.  The Gentle Storm encompasses a blooming culture of the Dutch in the 1700s, a topic very rarely illustrated in music.  So far, the album combines many of my favorite things in a two disc album.  The way the album is presented is also very unique   The concept is an age old love story told with amazing historic themes.  The story is told throughout both discs as well as the amazing cover art by Alexandra V.  The unique aspect of the two disc album is that both discs have the same songs, just different sides. Disc 1 is the Gentle Side of the album, where all the songs are done acoustically.  Disc 2 is a completely different electric take on all the ballads, turning them into something Metal.  It is a truly unique and brilliant new approach to doing a new album, showing unparalleled musicianship.

 

“The Diary” begins with the “gentle version” of Endless Sea, a haunting and moving track, ebbing with pure emotion from Anneke and all the instrumentation behind her.  The deep concert drums add an intense sound to this track.  The Heart of Amsterdam is very heartfelt and lovely with a beautiful melody atop an absolutely fantastic violin part done by Ben Mathot and cello from Maaike Peterse.  This song is very traditional sounding with beautiful Jazz tones.  This song beautifully encompasses the greatness of Amsterdam, back then and now.  The Greatest Love is even more beautiful and traditional, to a point of mesmerization of the ears.  Shores of India is bridging two incredible cultures and creating a track that sounds older than the history books themselves.  The way Anneke fits into the style of the song and perfectly executes a complicated melody is absolutely spectacular.  Cape of Storms is more of a dramatic track on the album with heavier percussion and flowing strings underneath a captivating melody. The Moment is an absolutely enchanting ballad, full of emotion and poetic lyrics.  Another impressive track on the gentle side is The Storm that solidifies the story so perfectly and effortlessly.  Also, New Horizons is an absolutely incredible track as it is intense with emotion and features great rhythmic percussion.  All the vocals and instrumentation definitely sound effortless in this album, because the talent level is extremely high on this album.  To sum up the Gentle Version of “The Diary”, it is a heartfelt classical disc with immense musicianship and absolutely brilliant writing.  It comes in like a gentle tide, but “The Diary” leaves like a storm for the ages.

 

The Storm version of “The Diary” is completely different than the Gentle Version, giving two completely different takes on a great story.  Personally me being a Metalhead, I prefer the Storm version of the album, because it is heavier.  The guitar solos and the more grandeur sound of Disc 2 is absolutely incredible.  The guitar work on Endless Sea and Heart of Amsterdam as well as other tracks is so unique and excellently executed, you can definitely tell it’s Arjen.  I absolutely love that the guest soloist on Heart of Amsterdam is Timo Somers of Delain.  His dueling solo with Ben Mathot is ridiculously good and addictive and adds flair.  Shores of India sounds much darker on this disc, which I love.  It breaks up the mood of the album and makes it interesting.  Ed Warby’s drumming on this track is absolutely spot on as well as Anneke’s soaring vocals throughout.  The best part of a two disc album or a two sided is that each disc has its strengths.  Some tracks fit better with the Gentle side like The Moment and The Greatest Love.  Some tracks like Endless Sea, Heart of Amsterdam, and The Storm fit a little nicer on The Storm side.

 

The strength and brilliance of the album is that both sides have their standout tracks, even though both discs contain the same tracks.  It is not that either disc has a weak track, but that the styles can appeal to tastes in different ways.  “The Diary” is brilliant in that it’s an album for anyone with truly sophisticated taste in Progressive music and Metal, and if you’re a huge fan of Anneke and Arjen.  In the subject material and musical composition, I have never heard an album quite like this one.  The use of World instruments and modern instruments definitely adds aspects that I love.  There’s not an aspect that I can’t appreciate or am not captivated by with “The Diary”, and that is vastly rare in music these days.

 

Album Rating 10/10

 

“In The Shadow of the Inverted Cross” by Sorcerer Review

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Sorcerer, a band cultured in Epic Doom Metal and Historical Fantasies, is one of Sweden’s finest.  In 1988, the band was forged in a time where Metal was on the downhill run of Mainstream popularity.  Thrash was still raging as Metallica and Slayer were at the top of the hill.  Sorcerer have not been steady in their history, with band changes and pesky timing with Metal trends.  History has not been necessarily kind to Sorcerer, but in 2015 the band uses history to their advantage.    The band effortlessly combines Power Metal vocals with Doom and Sludge backing tracks.  This makes up the “Epic Doom Metal” sound that the band is oh-so famous for with their cult following. The band has come together to honor this cult following create a haunting, chilling, mesmerizing new album that is “In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross”.

 

“In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross” in this modern age of Metal stands up so uniquely.  There are Progressive and Power themes like Grand Magus and Symphony X have mastered and fine tuned.  It’s so Powerful with vocals and heavy distorted muddy guitars, yet melodic and gorgeously composed.  Lake of the Lost Souls perfectly illustrates these brilliant aspects, being one of the best tracks I’ve heard yet in 2015.  If you like the heavier side of Sorcerer, tracks like Sumerian Script and The Gates of Hell will blaze and surge with energy.  The title track of the album is the darkest and the angriest track, brilliantly delivering 5 minutes and 25 seconds of epic sound.  The aspect of all these tracks that caught my attention is the mix of Power vocals and Doom mood. Sorcerer absolutely nailed this amazing mix the cross and took it so far down to the muddy shores of the river Styx.  The guitars are just so low and heavy and well executed, not becoming muted or boring.  This album could easily have Speed Metal guitars and high pitched squealing mixed with throaty growls.  But, Sorcerer dares to be trailblazers and come up with a unique sound that is like nothing I’ve ever heard.  There is no album quite like “In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross”.

 

Album Rating 8/10- One hell of a powerful album; Great vocals and guitars.  Like nothing else you will hear this year.

 

2015 Sorcerer Lineup

Anders Engberg – Vocals
Kristian Niemann – Guitars
Peter Hallgren – Guitars
Johnny Hagel – Bass
Robert Iversen – Drums

http://www.sorcererdoom.com/

 

“From Beyond” by Enforcer Review 2015

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A Swedish Power Metal band formed in 2004 has bottled a secret formula for creating bombastic and reminiscent music.  Their throwback 80’s Heavy Metal sound somehow works in modern times.  Their catchy and anthemic formula includes loud perfectly aimed power chords with shredding nuances in the guitars, a solid rhythm focused bass line, simple drumming, and high powerful screaming vocals.  This formula Enforcer has forged in a small town in Sweden rages and swarms all across the world.  Enforcer can be categorized with the likes of the Scorpions, Hammerfall, Helloween, and even Judas Priest.  Enforcer is however influenced by European Metal of the 80’s and 90’s like Credo and Magnit.  Their ability to create extremely solid music foreshadowing a great era of Metal is unparalleled in 2015.  Enforcer’s new album “From Beyond” is nothing short of jamming fantastical Power Metal.

 

“From Beyond” is an album that could’ve been forged thirty years ago and sent forward in time to make a point.  The album proves that Rock/Metal is alive and thriving.  Enforcer took Traditional Metal sounds and smashed them all together with an iron fist with this album.  Typically I find albums of this style quite cheesy and flat, but “From Beyond” rewrites history.  Tracks like Out of Fire, Undying Evil, and The Banshee are wailing and bursting tracks.  These tracks are furious and bursting with energy, showing a thrilling passion still alive and well after a decade.  Below the Slumber is one of the most epic tracks on the album, starting with a melodic side and dropping into a blazingly heavy and speedy guitar riff.  Farewell is vastly impressive mixing the melodic tones and 80’s rhythmic jamming.  These are only some great highlights of the album, so definitely listen to them all and see what you think.  It is by no means a concept album, but it is one I think you should listen front to back.

 

“From Beyond” is certain to impress the likes of Power Metal fans and even convert the 40 year olds who just can’t get over the 80’s.  Enforcer created something special with this album, a sound that only comes once every 15 years, in my opinion.  This album impressed me more than the latest from Hammerfall and Judas Priest, which I know is sacrilegious.  That is a big testament to Enforcer’s musicianship and writing ability.  If this album gets over looked for a “Best of 2015” list, then it doesn’t necessarily have the staying power that other albums might have.  Although “From Beyond” might be a great album as of now, later there is more Power Metal albums to be delved into.  Right now, I’m impressed by the album, but I might forget in time and find 10 other albums that with reign supreme in 2015.

Album Raiting 7/10- Amazing album and will be cherished by many, but forgotten and overshadowed by other albums this year.

Celebrating 20 Years of Evanescence


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20 years ago, one of the most influential American Rock bands was birthed in the heart of Little Rock, Arkansas, after a youth music camp brought together two young musicians and friends.  Ben Moody, founding member and ex- guitarist (departed in October 2003)  discovered Amy Lee during this camp, as she had learned I Would Do Anything for Love by Meat Loaf on piano.  This bonding over music started a fascination and a mix of styles that birthed Evanescence, mixing Classical, dark, heavy, and mainstream sounds.  The band brought on friend David Hodges and recorded an ep in 1998.  The band then recorded another EP, known as the Whisper EP after playing these tracks in local bars.  The interest in them lead to the band recording a full length album called Origin, only making 2,500 to sell at shows.

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After the departure of David Hodges, the band went on to impress several producers in Memphis at Ardent Studios and a few at Wind Up Records.  This lead to the signing of Evanescence and birth of their first mass produced album “Fallen” and the addition of friends John Lecompt, Will Boyd, and Rocky Gray in 2003.   Lee and Moody had already written more than 20 songs together, making the creation of the album fairly smooth.  However, the two were clashing on what the band Evanescence should be about and the music they want to produce.  Moody was pushing for the band to incorporate more mainstream and pop sounds, where Lee wanted the band to retain dark and mysterious attributes that the fans already loved.  “Fallen” went on to sell 7 million copies in the U.S. and 17 million worldwide as well as two tracks from it be featured on the Daredevil Soundtrack.  “Fallen” is listed as number six of The Best Selling Albums of the 2000s.  Despite the album’s success, Evanescence was under tension with Moody and Lee on the outs.  On October 22, 2003, Ben Moody departed from Evanescence due to “creative differences”.  He was shortly replaced by Terry Balsamo as Evanescence embarked on a world tour in 2004 where they filmed live DVD “Anywhere But Home” in Paris, France.  The live album/DVD has sold a million copies worldwide.

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“Fallen” is a revolutionary Metal/Rock album in the Music Industry.  Its success and unique darkness is unparalleled.  This album is tremendous in its impact on young musicians and the way America approached Gothic Rock.  This is really the first album that introduced me to these sounds, definitely foreign sounds that I am now discovering only exist in European Metal.  I think that Amy Lee’s Classical training on piano no doubt attributes to this incredible sound that began with these EPs and translated so well into “Fallen”.  I find Amy Lee to be one of the most refined and intelligent musicians in America from the birth of Evanescence till now.  Her influences of alternative, Grunge, Goth, and Euro Rock and Pop and her immense talent is why “Fallen” is such a great album.

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In 2006, more change was brought to Evanescence as bassist Will Boyd departed from the band to be closer to family.  Amy Lee announced his replacement would be Tim Mccord, adding another incredibly talented musician to the lineup.  Terry Balsamo not long after suffered a stroke, other band member’s had other projects, and their former manager had passed.  All of these factors held back Lee’s plans for another album and her large ambitions for the band.  However, all of these setbacks may have attributed to the meticulous brilliance that next album “The Open Door” exuded.  This album had the catchiness that “Fallen” had, but was much darker and more complex.  “The Open Door” was such a brilliant album that brought out Evanescence’s Gothic influences for everyone to experience in such a deep way.  This album’s guitar work was simple, which bored Metal purists out of their minds, but the rest of the instrumentation was extremely dynamic.  The album truly utilized Amy Lee’s talent, in my opinion.  This was crucial to Evanescence’s staying power in the music industry, because it proved they could go darker and where most Metal bands in the States don’t dare to go.  The new album quickly sparked a co headlining spot at Rock Am Ring and more incredible tours, as well as an incredible Yahoo! acoustic performance.  Call Me When You’re Sober and Lithium were also very popular singles, ending up in the Billboard Hot Charts along with the full album.  “The Open Door” sold 447,400 copies in the first week of sales.  Its popularity is definitely justified in creativity, proof of talent, and unique ambiance.

 

The lineup changes continued after the success of the album, unfortunately good friends John Lecompt and Rocky Gray departed from the band on May 4th, 2007.  It was a shocker to Evanescence fans, but didn’t hurt the progression or stability of the band.  Evanescence replaced the two musicians with Will Hunt and Troy Mclawhorn from Dark New Day.  The band embarked with the two on the legendary “Family Values Tour” and then “The Open Door” headlining tour.  After all the touring and huge festivals, the band announced they were working on material for a new album.  This lengthy album process that had a lot of setbacks and uncertain times with the label, leading to a 4 year writing process with an unofficial hiatus. The only new music the fans received was Together Again, a track Lee wrote to aid in the recovery efforts for the earthquake Haiti had suffered in 2010.  As a fan, I was worried that Evanescence would not release a new album due to label troubles and so many lineup changes.  It was difficult to think the band would fold because of these issues, and I thought it would be an utter waste of talent if Evanescence would cease to exist.  Luckily, the band found prevailed in finding their creative spaces and completed the new self titled album.  Evanescence was officially released October 11th, 2011.  The album was a combination of ocean themes, falling in love, and a longing for freedom.  Lee took her love for Evanescence and its previous albums and used that as fuel for a new album.  The band was also inspired by the tsunami disaster in Japan and claimed the track Oceans was purely inspired by the event.

 

Sadly, Evanescence is on an official hiatus now due to a lawsuit and break up with Wind Up Records and more positively the birth of Amy Lee’s first child Jack Lion.  The future of Evanescence is uncertain as of now, as Amy pursues solo project and other band members have other projects going on too.  Amy Lee reassured fans and said she’ll never be done with Evanescence, but insight beyond that is limited.  For now, fans are forced to relish in the past and enjoy these past 20 years.  I have hope that there will be more Evanescence tours in the future and possibly new music as little Jack matures.  So, happy 20 years to Evanescence, may there be many more in the future.

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The Order of Things by All That Remains Review

 

 

All That Remains has been a force to be reckoned with since 2000, releasing albums that sit on the unstable border of Rock and Metal and stirring up conversations about genre limitations.  More recently bold and daring frontman Phil Labonte has been making headlines about controversial views on Gays and Blacks and the differences of struggle.  Regardless of whether you agree with his views, you probably admit All That Remains is stirring things up and working their way up the pedestal in Hard Rock and Metal; In the end it should all be about the music anyway.  The new brave and bold Heavy Metal release “The Order of Things” is definitely a well played and highly talked about album in 2015, creating bridges and burning them all over again.

 

If you frequent this site and blog, you are aware of my displeasure with Mainstream Rock and Metal these days, and also my disappointed feelings towards American Metal.  It is odd for me to review such a high profile Radio Friendly Heavy Metal album, but I have my reasons for reviewing “The Order of Things”.  All That Remains has drifted from their original Melodic Death Metal roots and become more Mainstream, which displeases me a bit.  However, the band has made it work and has created a unique identity that sets them apart.  This daring feat has lead me to respect this band and what they work for with their music and I wanted to review this album as fairly as possible.

 

“The Order of Things” is a surprisingly diverse and well executed Heavy Metal album.  The album mixes Mainstream Lyrical themes (relationship based story songs) and Melodic Technical Guitars featuring well done solos.  The guitar work is what hugely separates this band from the boring and monotone Metal being played on the radio, in my opinion.  I find the guitars layered nicely and dynamic with different sounds and styles.  The vocals are pretty well done, although a bit weak on some songs.  The heavy and powerful instrumentation sometimes overshadows the vocals and sounds unbalanced.  I particularly noticed this on Bite My Tongue and The Greatest Generation.  Otherwise, the vocals are well done and very relatable on For You and Flat Empire.  My favorite part of the vocals however is the growls and the heavier style on this album.  No Knock is definitely my favorite track on the album, because of the guttural growls done on the track.  True-Kvlt Metal is also a huge standout on this album and keeping it to a likable level of heaviness.  I liked some tracks more than others, mostly because of personal preference, but I think all people will find their favorite tracks on this album.

 

Overall, I think this is a pretty good and strong effort All That Remains.  Every track is diverse from others, meaning the album is more about individuality than a succinct style.  However, the album is pretty straight forward Heavy Metal and doesn’t really differ much from other bands in the genre.  The lyrics are also difficult to connect with for me, but I know that’s not the case for thousands of fans.  I would like All That Remains to refine the clean vocals and introduce a lot more power as well as branch out into other styles.  Personally, this album will not hold up in 2015 due to so much more powerful and heavy releases and I will not end up buying this one.

 

Overall Rating 6/10- Although this album is good, especially for Mainstream Metal/Rock, I think it will soon be forgotten and overshadowed.  It lacks any truly great and catchy aspects.

 

Eye of Providence by The Agonist Review

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Eye of Providence by The Agonist

The Agonist has been a reckoning force in Melodic Death Metal since 2004, with several excellent albums and daring sounds.  They prevail with diverse and hardcore music, ranging from melodic to all out thrashing Metal.  I’ve enjoyed this band off and on since 2010, when the dynamic and talented Alissa White-Gluz fronted the band.  When she announced she was replacing Angela Gossow in the Swedish Melodeth band Arch Enemy, it was clear she couldn’t balance too popular bands at once.  The Agonist however prevailed on without her, picking up long time friend Vicky Psarakis as their new vocalist.  I did not foresee The Agonist successfully continuing on without Alissa, no doubt due to my personal connection with the vocalist, but on their new album I am slowly convinced.
“The Eye of Providence” is just like previous albums from The Agonist, with new flavors and no doubt a heavier sound.  It is the band matured and refined into a heavier more aggressive band, while keeping the melodic breakdowns they exhibited in previous tracks.  The guitars are also magnified 100x to a stellar speed and technical quality that sets this band above other bands in their genre.  The guitars are loud, dynamic, and absolutely crazy in such a well executed way.  Every part is turned up and blended into this hard to grasp chaos, and I absolutely love it.  The hard to grasp aspects of the album are good aspects, but took awhile to get my head around It took awhile to warm up to Vicky’s style, but to be absolutely honest the difference of style between the old vocals and news ones isn’t too drastic.  There’s just so much chaos and style exploding in the album, it takes around three listens to hone in on all the good parts.  The old albums and “The Eye of Providence” aren’t too far apart in sound, but miles apart in maturity.

 

I found the first couple albums from The Agonist seemed to have an “Emo” quality that appealed more to teens than to the typical Metal fan.  “The Eye of Providence” is certainly not anything you can compare to breakup emo bands like Pierce the Veil and Black Veil Brides.  Songs like My Witness Your Victim, I Endeavor, and A Necessary Evil prove the band has come a long way and is in a league of their own.  Each track is powerful, concise, and well versed in song structure and brilliant lyrics.  All of the songs standout on “The Eye of Providence” because of their consistent theme and hard work put into every track.  I also must commend them for the epic and dark bass solo on A Gentle Disease, it sets this album apart from other hardcore releases even more. All of these characteristics of the album remind me why I love this band and why The Agonist will continue to grow.

 

Album Rating 7/10- I really enjoyed the album and all the aspects that made this a really unique album, but found it a little weak in some areas.  I will most likely forget this album later in the year, because there are so much more powerful albums to come in 2015.

 

“Rise of Eradication” Review

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Underground artist Heart Impaled creates very unique Heavy Metal with Industrial and Power Metal influences, sounding like a band mashed between the 90’s and 80’s.  Heart Impaled has techno embedded into this fist pounding break beat Metal, something Fear Factory mastered long ago.  Heart Impaled came out with a weird and eerie new album in 2014 and I felt the need to share my thoughts.  Even though Heart Impaled is a solo project most likely mixed out of a basement with Fruity Loops/Pro Tools, mixed surprisingly well I might add, I feel like this music touches on a dead arena.  Heart Impaled is vastly inspired by Video Games and creates perfect soundtrack music for shooters and side scrollers.  As a Video Game fan, I found good use for this fairly weird and disjointed album.

 

“Rise of Eradication” is somewhat of a novelty album, meaning it is hard to take seriously as an actual Heavy Metal album.  However for gamers, this album is reminiscent of the days of Megaman, Metal Gear Solid, Rampage, and Metroid.  This is when game soundtracks mixed techno and Rock and Metal to create epic and high energy background music.  The arena of this music for Video Games is gone, I think.  But, “Rise of Eradication” really brings this sound back to the forefront.  It could easily be refined and put into an Indie Side Scroller/Shooter and I believe it absolutely should be.  Each track is fairly seamless through extended play, so the entire album could be put into a game easily.  As fair as musical quality, it does lack.  It is slightly repetitive, overly distorted, and has no outstanding vocals.  But as a game soundtrack, this album is outstanding.  I highly recommend cranking this up during Classic Game Night.

 

Overall Rating 3/10

Listen Here: https://play.spotify.com/artist/4FILz2QWQKKQtPJQ73G6ud?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open

 

I Review “Enki” from Jerusalem’s Melechesh

 

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Melechesh, the first band out of Jerusalem to get a record deal in 1993, is back in 2015 with a hellacious new album.  Their style is its own demon, containing Middle Eastern and Thrash roots perfectly blackened.  Founding member Ashmedi is a powerful guitarist, mixing Thrash and Melodic ancient sounds in an unheard way.  The band continues to breed this very dark and personal style of music that people are calling “Mesopotamian Metal”, as it deals with spiritual and philosophical topics as old as the first budding settlement.  Their new album is all of these layers and sounds magnified and refined majorly, but also twisted and darkened.  I enjoy Middle Eastern influences in Metal, but this is unlike anything I’ve heard before.

 

“Enki” is a mix of Modern Thrash and old world sound with each track, interlacing and twisting with rage.  It is not an album for any light ears.  “Enki” is scorchingly heavy from beginning to end.  The drums are technical and fast, pounding with a bit of Latin flair and interesting fills.  The guitars are tight, well orchestrated, and unique with a Middle Eastern Melody underneath the rattling distortion.  The vocals are grunting and beastly, besides the occasional haunting clean runs in the back, adding even older sounds to the album.  Songs like Metatron and Man, The Pendulum Speaks, and Enki-Divine Nature Awoken, have a similar style in the vocals and guitars that Arch Enemy’s “Khaos Legions” had.  That sound adds a familiarity to such a foreign genre and sound.  These tracks are incredibly dark and heavy, bringing in the “Blackened” part in Melechesh’s creation.  The Palm The Eye and Lapis Lazuli and Multiple Truths contain the most interesting Middle Eastern sounds on the album.  Lost Tribes features the very busy and legendary Max Cavalera on vocals, adding a flair to the album.  I found Doorways to Irkala to be the most regional and historical inspired track on “Enki”.  It is eight minutes of ancient sounds, somewhat reminding me of a sacred ritual that begin ages before Metal existed.   It is not a Metal song at all, but it is a very significant track on this album and for Melechesh’s heritage.

 

“Enki” is however more of a concept album, having similar repeated riffs all the way through.  It lacks diversity of songs and styles with individual tracks.  Also, the lyrics may be deep and personal but they are inaudible, which demeans the music for me.  If the band claims they write philosophical lyrics I would like to be able to connect with them, to understand what all the chaos is about.  Many will say, “Just look the lyrics up online and read through them”, which is a good way to solve my complaint for the lack of audible words.  However, if this band truly has points they want to get across and strongly believe in, the listener should be able to understand them.  I do enjoy Black Metal and the use of growls, but I just find it demeaning the history and cultural influences of the album.  Aside my personal wishes for this album, it is a very unique and well put together Blackened Thrash Metal release.

Overall Album Rating 7/10

 

Sounds Like: Myrath, Cavalera Conspiracy, Old Dimmu Borgir

 

Album out March 10th, 2015

 

http://www.melechesh.com/

 

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