Etikettarkiv: symphonic metal

Nightwish – Imaginaerum (2011) track by track first listen review

While Nightwish’ new album Imaginaerum is set for a November 30, 2011 release, for some reason my preordered edition arrived early in the mail, and I got the chance to listen to it right away. So I made som hot cocoa, light up some candles and popped the CD in. Here goes with my first thoughts on the new album.

1. Taikatalvi (02:35)

The first real intro the band has ever had (as an own song), and it works very elegantly. Soft playing and Marco Hietala singing in beautiful Finnish, a perfect introduction to the album. I am glad to hear how smoothly it moves into Storytime, the next song, and I start to hope for a smooth album with songs that work both individually and as a whole

2. Storytime (05:22)

Storytime was the first song released from the album, the first single released in early November. I still agree with my opinions then – it really works. It’s catchy without being too catchy (which I thought was the problem with 2007’s ”Amaranth”), and it has an excellent orchestral C-part (albeit quite reminiscent of the Crimson Tide musical score).

3. Ghost River (05:28)

Although this wasn’t as smooth as Taikatalvi-Story Time, it works nicely. A surprisingly hard rock-y intro is met by Anette Olzon’s somewhat AOR-y voice, followed by a Hietala heavy chorus. While not a particularly melodic chorus, it immediately sticks on me, and Hietala’s voice works well with the background riffs and Olzon’s backing vocals. The lyrics easily stick as well: ”He will go down he will drown drown deeper down / The mills grind slow in a riverbed ghost town”. The song has several interesting parts in only five minutes, including a slower Olzon bridge and a second bridge with a children choir. Feels like a given live song.

4. Slow, Love, Slow (05:50)

One of the more controversial songs due to it’s unusual jazz influence, this is one of the songs I’ve looked forward to the most (alongside particularly ”Scaretale”, ”Turn Loose the Swans” and ”Song of Myself”). It works really well, with a nice atmosphere which feels extremely Opeth-y (alongside the obvious 1930’s piano bar thoughts). And while I thought the song would have pretty much the same tone all the way through, the second section really builds up to something. The orchestra, keys, guitars and Olzon’s voice work extremely well together in the final two minutes or so.

5. I Want My Tears Back (05:08)

One of the songs that both by the released sample and the title sound extremely poppy to me, but let’s see. The vocals are indeed pretty cliched, as are the bagpipes – while I love bagpipes, it is really hard to get them do something special, and not just ending up sounding like the same old Eluveitie song over and over again. That said, the song really works, Olzon contributes with some interesting vocal lines, and the lyrics are some of the best of later-day Nightwish. The rather uninteresting chorus is if anything a break from the rest of the song (including the Escapist-reminiscent pre-chorus). Speaking of cliched bagpipes by the way – while the instrumental break of the C part isn’t super interesting musically, it truly rocks your socks of, and I can’t wait to see it live.

6. Scaretale (07:32)

Starting out like a horror movie, it has got me right from the start, with creepy sounds and super creepy singing children. Ah! Help! The song starts out with three instrumental minutes like it’s one of the good old Nightwish epics alongside ”Ghost Love Score”, ”The Beauty of the Beast” and ”The Poet of the Pendulum”, and then continues with more of the interesting ”new” Anette Olzon vocals that are much more varied than on Dark Passion Play. For some reason the song’s mid-section feels a lot Devil Doll-ish. And… without noticing it, the song is almost over.

7. Arabesque (02:57)

Much like Taikatalvi is Nightwish’ first real intro song, this is their first purely atmospheric tracks since possible ”Lappi” (Angels Fall First, 1997). They’ve done instrumentals several times in the past, but not like this – this feels more like a chase scene than the older ones, which are pretty much let’s-drink-some-vodka-and-rock-on-by-the-midwinter-fire. This… rocks. Oh, and I love how tightly it’s connected to ”Scaretale”.

8. Turn Loose the Mermaids (04:20)

The only real ballad on the album (though ”Slow, Love, Slow” and ”The Crow, the Owl and the Dove” are both debatable), it works really nicely. Olzon voice is yet again on the top, and the lyrics are excellent, alongside the music by itself – a fantastic mixture of piano, harpsichord and Troy Donockley’s several instruments, as well as the percussion towards the bridge section. As Holopainen has said before, the bridge has an interesting Ennio Morricone-like feel to it, and it really works.

9. Rest Calm (07:03)

Seeing as I am a huge fan of doom metal, this was one of the songs I was looking forward the most to, seeing as doom metal is the main influence. Much like Scaretale, the intro kicks it off extremely elegantly, though this has much more of a heavy metal feel. The chorus is both catchy and heavy metal, and Olzon’s post-chorus section is immediately melancholic and escapist. The lyrics are amazing as well: ”You are the moon pulling my black waters / You are the land in my dark closets / Stay by my side until it all goes dark forever / When silent the silence comes closer”. One of the best so far.

10. The Crow, the Owl and the Dove (04:10)

This was the other song I had heard before release (thanks, Aku Ankka!), but only once. It is excellently composed and works really nicely, if not for the rather dull chorus. Is a little subtlety too much to ask for?

11. Last Ride of the Day (04:32)

Starts out truly epic with orchestra and chanting before the band kicks in. The chorus is epic as hell, and reminds me of the good old power metal days. And I suddenly understand the idea of being on a roller coaster that Holopainen wanted to convey.

12. Song of Myself (13:38)

1. From a Dusty Bookshelf
It’s not an overstatement to say this is one of the songs I’ve been looking the most forward to. Its length alone is enough to make me think of earlier songs in the Nightwish repertoire. Still, I’ve heard a lot of bad disappointed comments on the net, so I try my best not to have too high expectations.

2. All That Great Heart Lying Still
It starts out nicely, but not really surprising. The lyrics are interesting though. The chorus when it comes up lifts the whole song, and it works excellently. I by the way love The Dead Boy getting some mentions in a song for once (I think there was a line earlier in the album as well).

3. Piano Black
Excellent lyrics and vocals mixed with beautiful, epic music (though somewhat boring guitar riffs, as have been a feature throughout the album). The music dying for a moment in the end of this section is one of the most epic moments of the album.

4. Love
I have heard a lot of bad stuff about this section. The monologues… they are supposed to be boring. I loved them. I couldn’t help myself crying like never before. I loved it. The music may be simplistic, but it works excellently. It’s perfect. Just about perfect.

13. Imaginaerum (06:18)

There is currently not much to say about this outro. And yes, outro is exactly what it is. Pip William’s orchestrated medley of the major themes on the album. It works… so well. So fantastic. But I can’t judge it alone. The entire album as a whole works so well.

Awesome.

”Storytime” review

The new Nightwish track ”Storytime” is finally out. The single can be bought or downloaded, and the video can be viewed on YouTube (the video version of the song is shortened by a minute and twenty seconds, with parts of the intro and the symphonic section removed).

The song is surprisingly good, both melodic and interesting, with good melodies and an amazing symphonic section (even though it does feel rather Crimson Tide inspired at 03:22 – 03:34). The beginning and end (not the video version) seem to connect it to the other songs of the album, which gives me further hope of a connected album in the likes of other symphonic metal masterpieces such as Kamelot’s Epica. The song also feature some really cool steel drums, which are rarely used well (or at all) in metal music. It also features Anette Olzon’s voice much more smoothly with the music than on some of the Dark Passion Play tracks.

Nightwish’ new album Imaginaerum will be released November 30, 2011, and can be pre-ordered in their shop.

Nightwish reveals information on upcoming album and film: ”Imaginarium”

Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish today revealed the title and concept of their upcoming seventh album Imaginarium. As the super fan I am, I am ofcourse incredibly psyched, and I’ve collected all information I’ve gathered on the subject.

Imaginarium is the seventh studio album by Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, set to be released in 2012. The album is a concept album telling the story of an old songwriter with a very vivid imagination, and who believes he is a young boy still. The album is produced alongside a movie with the same name, directed by Stobe Harju, who previously directed Nightwish’ ”The Islander” music video.

Composer and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen describes the plot: ”The protagonist of the film is a songwriter with an otherworldly imagination. He is an old man who still thinks he`s a young boy. While asleep he travels into his distant past where his dreams of old come back to him mixed to the young boy`s world of fantasy and music.”

The album has been described as following a natural development from Dark Passion Play, inspired greatly by film scores. Alike Dark Passion Play as well as Once and Century Child it features a live orchestra, again orchestrated by Pip Williams. The orchestrations have been described as ”beautiful, twisted, tribal and cinematic”, but will not be featured on every track as it was on Dark Passion Play. Bassist Marco Hietala has empathised that the album is heavier than the predecessor, and composer Tuomas Holopainen has called one song ”a funeral march”, greatly inspired by the doom metal of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.

Holopainen has cited three major influences on the album – director Tim Burton, author Neil Gaiman and painter Salvador Dali. Musical influences include Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Ennio Morricone, Christy Moore, Van Halen and Pantera, and one song especially (called a ”funeral march”) is inspired by doom metal giants Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. Another looks to be the longest Nightwish song yet, being close to 20 minutes and especially influenced by poet Walt Withman. One acoustic piece is also called ”a Moomin Valley Christmas carol”. One song, referenced to as ”the Nukkumatti song” (nukkumatti being finnish for sandman) is described as ”a pounding, twisted and chorusless ghost train ride is sure to bring a smile to your face. At least it has done so to everyone who has heard it. Danny Elfman goes humppa”, and another is described as ”something completely different from anything we`ve ever done. All of us need to find new ways to play our instruments and use vocals for that piece. A terrificly challenging and mind-expanding song.”

The above is almost identical to the current Wikipedia page for the album, but no, I have not stolen it. As you can see by the history I wrote it, and I allow them to use and modify it, not the other way around.

Music releases of 2011

Within Temptation's "The Unforgiving", coming on March 25.

I entered 2011 thinking most music releases came in 2009 and 2010, and this would be a pretty calm year. I’m slowly realising I was damned wrong.

Symphonic metal act Within Temptation will release their first album since 2007, the experimental ”The Unforgiving” on March 25. The album is released alongside a comic book series written by Steven O’Connell, and six pages of the prequel is already out on Within Temptation’s website.

In March also, Swedish thrash metal act The Haunted will release ”Unseen”, the follow-up to 2009’s ”Versus”. The song ”No Ghost” from the album has already been performed and filmed live and can be seen on YouTube already. Generally well received, I take it as an awesome return to the more experimental ”The Dead Eye” era.

Sons of Seasons' second album "Magnisphyricon", coming on April 1.

In March also, German power metal project Avantasia plan to release their first live CD/DVD, The Flying Opera, filmed during their 2008 The Scarecrow tour.

On April 1, the German symphonic progressive metallers Sons of Seasons, the project of Kamelot keyboardist Oliver Palotai, will release their second album Magnisphyricon. Judging by the cover and tracklist alone, it looks like an incredibly promising album, and hopefully with a better production than their debut Gods of Vermin.

In the third or fourth quarter of the year, symphonic power metal giants Nightwish will hopefully release their seventh studio album, the follow-up to 2007’s Dark Passion Play. I have high hopes for this, believing Anette Olzon has grown into her role as the new lead singer, and developed her voice to better suite the music.

After founding member Mike Portnoy’s sudden leave in the past autumn, Dream Theater‘s remaining members are working on an upcoming album, the successor to 2009’s incredible Black Clouds and Silver Linings, presumably with a new drummer they have yet to reveal to the public. I have no idea whether the album will be released in 2011 or not, but as I understand it they have at least entered the recording process, and so the album should be released in late 2011 or early 2012.

Avantasia – Angel of Babylon (2010)

I have troubles not being too harsh when discussing Avantasia‘s Angel of Babylon. As it was, Tobias Sammet decided that the material he had gathered for the latest Avantasia album was too much, and he split it into two CDs released simultaneously – The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon. But as it seems, I can’t help but think that Angel of Babylon was the dump station of everything not good enough for ”the real album”. An additional CD for the special edition, filled with bonus tracks, some extremely good ones.

Okay. The introducing track ”Stargazers” is extremely good, as is the following ”Angel of Babylon”, but they are still just average Avantasia songs on the whole, and every other song on The Wicked Symphony beats them both by a longshot. ”Death is Just a Feeling” is a good song, yes, but it doesn’t fit at all with the rest of the album, and neither does the Cloudy Yang-epitomic symphonic metal track ”Symphony of Life” (which for the record is the only song in Avantasia history being written by Sasha Paeth and not Tobias Sammet). My feeling of both of these songs increases my belief that this is an extra CD with bonus tracks, some of which were skipped simply because they’re not that good (”Rat Race”, ”Your Love is Evil”) and some that didn’t fit the rest of the album enough (”Death”, ”Symphony”). And other songs – ”Rat Race” and ”Alone I Remember” – have garage rock introduction that makes them sound like jokes in the midst of epic power metal.

But the album isn’t all bad. The ballad ”Blowing Out the Flame” sound incredibly cheesy on first listen but sound extremely good after a while, similarly to The Scarecrow‘s ”What Kind of Love”. The last power song ”Promised Land” is one of the best shorter songs Avantasia has ever produced (but I find trouble counting it, seeing as it’s a re-recording of the b-side from the Lost in Space Part II EP). Journey to Arcadia is probably my favorite Avantasia song throughout history, or at least it’s up there in the top alongside ”The Seven Angels”, ”The Scarecrow”, ”Blizzard on a Broken Mirror” and ”Runaway Train”.

Sons of Seasons to release new album in April

German symphonic metal act Sons of Seasons, who debuted in 2009 with Gods of Vermin, has now announced the release of their second album Magnisphyricon on April 1, 2011.

Simone Simons of Epica reportedly lends her voice to the track Sanctuary.

Tracklist:

1. Magnisphyricon: Temperance
2. Bubonic Waltz
3. Soul Symmetry
4. Sanctuary
5. Casus Belli I: Guilt’s Mirror
6. Magnisphyricon: Adjustement
7. Into the Void
8. A Nightbird’s Gospel
9. Tales of Greed
10. Lilith
11. Casus Belli II: Necrologue to the Unborn
12. Magnisphyricon: The Aeon
13. 1413
14. Yesteryears

Within Temptation – Faster (single, 2011)

I was hoping the new Within Temptation album would lead them into a heavier direction, or at least a development of the symphonic metal of The Heart of Everything, but it seems like I was incredibly wrong. Judging by the early comments by the band, I assumed the new album The Unforgiving, to be released on March 25, was to be in a cleaner hard rock style. With the new single Faster, however, they seem to go more in the styles of a classic techno pop approach. Oh no.

I will not judge the entire album from this, no, but it does make me a wee bit disappointed already. I really loved The Heart of Everything as well as all their earlier albums, and I would hate to see such a band fall into ruins.

I am still really excited about the album, which is created alongside a graphic novel with the same name. The prequel is out already online, and it looks quite cool. The idea overall is great, and I’m excited to see how the story goes and how the lyrics goes into the overall story (I have always been a sucker for good concept albums).

I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and all that, but… well, the incredibly moronic Faster cover only increases my possible dislike for the song.

Amberian Dawn – End of Eden review

This review was first published on the official Amberian Dawn forum on October 21, 2010.

So I just downloaded the new Amberian Dawn album End of Eden (yes, I have preordered it, but it hasn’t come yet so I hope the band won’t mind me not waiting any longer), and I’m about to get my very first listen… And so I got the idea to record my primary listen experience in this thread, updating it as the album goes along. I’m currently just about to get a cup of coffee before finally pressing the play button on Talisman… so, wish me luck, and please comment!

Remember that this is my first listen, so don’t blame me all that much if I have the ”wrong” opinion all from the start. Some of the best albums out there (Kamelot’s ”Poetry For the Poisoned”, Epica’s ”Design Your Universe”, My Dying Bride’s ”34.788 %… Complete”, Tiamat’s ”Wildhoney”) are growers I didn’t like one bit on first listen.

Observe that I really don’t pay any attention to the lyrics on first listen, but I focus on the music (not to mention that they’re hard to distinguish in Heidi’s operatic vocals, and I don’t have them before me).

Let’s go.

1. Talisman (3:41)

Kicks off with an awesome intro – not really blast-off at all as on previous albums but slow and ghostly keyboards. It then moves into a nice verse and a chorus I really didn’t feel much from on first listen, but it grows on me on the second chorus. This track has some awesome guitar-keyboard play, especially the solo/instrumental before the last chorus, and it has an awesome neo-classical feel to it, as do the keyboard orchestrations in the chorus and the end of the track.

2. Come Now Follow (3:47)

An intro with piano-guitar work reminding me of Nightwish’ ”Gethsemane” (from 1998’s Oceanborn) with atmospheric vocals by Heidi. Moves into a really cool chorus that reminds a little of ”He Sleeps in a Grove” (in a good way). I’m a little disappointed with the solo leading directly into third chorus with no real bridge, as well as the outro not being longer – it builds up to an awesome riff there.

3. Arctica (4:59)

Ofcourse I’ve heard this track a million times before, seeing as it was released almost two months prior to the album, as its lead single. It has some awesome instrumental sections and Heidi sounds wonderful in the chorus. A great track with a wonderfully arctic feel – and I suppose that’s what they’re going for.

One third in…

Seeing as there’s little to comment on Arctica I’m taking a little break to talk on my thoughts so far. I’m actually a little disappointed to see that both Talisman and Come Now Follow are real ”hits” with nothing extremely interesting to bring. Sure, every album needs a few pure rock songs, but I still feel too many AD tracks miss that little extra spark, that awesome solo or wonderful bridge – instead, most solos are pretty ”ordinary” and most tracks have no bridge whatsoever. Arctica do have a wonderful instrumental section before the last chorus though, and so almost makes up for the lack of this in the previous two tracks. Those I look the most forward to next are Ghostly Echoes, Virvatulen Laulu.

4. Ghostly Echoes (5:43)

This song has a really awesome 40-second intro of partly those ghostly echoes promised, and partly some extraordinary heavy metal riffing. Moves into a nice verse moving into an epic chorus, very much relying on background keyboard moves and some up front guitar riffing. Reminds me of Incubus in its strange atmosphere. This would have made for a great music video, I feel two minutes in out of almost six…

This was one of the songs I was really looking forward to, partly for its length (I’m a sucker for epics) and partly for its title. Three minutes in I’m already satisfied, and now it’s moving into a cool post-chorus instrumental, followed by a ripping guitar solo followed by some face-melting keyboard battling and background choral movements (ghostly echoes!) – this… is… awesomeness. A vocal movement follows leading up to the final chorus. This track is somewhat gothy, with its slow, heavy guitars and its background keyboards and choirs, and what sounds like church organ by the end. In short, an awesome track.

5. Sampo (3:12)

Kicks off with a nice but not extraordinary intro, and leads into a pleasant vocal-lead chorus – probably the perfect semi-joyful, melodic track after a heavier one like Ghostly Echoes. I notice the use of background choir in both this one and Ghostly Echoes and realise I really enjoy it. …at 2:02 I stand in shock before the awesome instrumental – my complaint on lack of bridges, forget about it! This is great, and that for a song that’s just a little beyond three minutes in length… wow! Nice idea with such a sudden and great instrumental. I’m using ”great” a little too much, huh?

7. Field of Serpents (3:39)

There’s something awesome about this album and its varying atmospheres. This one starts out like the big escape theme in a Hollywood thriller, and goes on through a stressful verse into a scream-out chorus, with varying crazy keyboard and ripping guitar riffs. I can’t imagine anything but running through a Field of Serpents in this awesome chorus. The bass-drums increase works perfectly and brings on just the right feel.

Moving into a nice instrumental section (proved wrong again, what is this?! :D) I realise this is one of the tracks with keyboard battle. Awesome!

Two thirds in…

As the last keyboard notes of Field of Serpents echo out I take another break for commenting on my thoughts so far. In the last one I were complaining about the lack of surprise and the lack of bridges, that the two new tracks so far had been nice ”hits” but weren’t really that original. That definititely changed now, with the awesome epic Ghostly Echoes and the speedy-as-hell-what-is-going-on Field of Serpents, as well as the next ”hit” Sampo which turned out to have quite a wonderful instrumental bridge.

The next three tracks all seem very exciting. City of Destruction (I recalled it to be ”corruption”, I have to do a quick Google search) has a very interesting name indeed, and I recall it to be the second one with a feature from Jens Johansson? Virvatulen Laulu is the classical piece with an opera singer, and seeing as I am a sucker for both classical music and opera it doesn’t take that many geniuses to calculate that I probably will love it (not to mention that mr Seppälä has only done great classical compositions so far). War in Heaven is 7:24 and I guess it is in this one we’ll see a reappearance by our dear friend James Goodman, that’s appeared on both previous albums as well. Put that together with its wonderful title and well, I think I’m sold before it begins. edit: After a Google search I realise that the title was indeed ”City of Corruption”, not Destruction. Damned be that torrent file.

8. City of Corruption (4:19)

Starts off real epic and moves into an even more epic neo-classical movement before the vocals start after a minute. The vocal lines are really beautifully done, and already the verse is stuck in my mind. The chorus is purely enchanting as well, even though I had assumed this song to be a ”rocker” judging by its title. :)Amberian Dawn is definitely moving into a more neo-classical direction as previously hinted on tracks likeIncubus, and I definitely enjoy this.

The song moves into a keyboard battle that rocks my brains out – as I had recalled, this was the one. The guitar riff featured in the intro as well is really wonderful as well.

9. Virvatulen Laulu (3:45)

I immediately notice that while this song starts out really nice, it definitely doesn’t suite well straight after City of Corruption. That aside, it’s really pleasant, with nice voices by both Nieminen and Heidi, and some extraordinary orchestration in the background. A style that immediately reminds me of the old classics. Moves into a wonderful piano-keyboard outro. Tuomas is really doing a lot of work in this one! A track I won’t really think is coming live, but it would be awesome if it did. Though this one didn’t strike me to be that amazing first run, it wouldn’t surprise me to be a grower.

10. War in Heaven (7:24)

Pure epic right from the start, with nice choir and guitar-drum-bass work, and background keyboard notes. Heidi’s voice sounds wonderfully tormented (am I sadistic? yes I am) and moves into a beautiful chorus (?) with a wonderful rhythm I really need them to play live.

[2:16] Moving into a doomish guitar section with James Goodman’s beautiful screaming voice and some chaotic background keyboards… wow that’s hot. They should do more of this. [2:46] Back to Heidi’s calm, tormented verse. Slow drums and calm keyboards… moving into a chorus section again. ”God and his angel…”! Wonderful. Back to Goodman and the doom, moving into even cooler choral works and then slowing it down with some harpsichord moving into a scarily great keyboard-heavy instrumental leading into a guitar solo. [6:22] Goodman returns his part and repeats it with increasing drum action speeding up the tempo… background orchestration and keyboard sections returns and it all echoes out with a hauntingly epic harpsichord and church organ finishing it off… a perfect ending to this amazing album.

edit: I realised just now that 6. Blackbird wasn’t included among the files I downloaded… I fixed another download though, and I have to hurry now but I’ll comment on it later.

Kamelot – Poetry for the Poisoned review

Norwegian-American progressive power metal act Kamelot‘s 2010 album Poetry for the Poisoned is unlike anything they have ever released, and to some extent unlike anything anyone has ever released. It is an interesting joyride of traditional heavy metal hatered, emotions beyond music and and an experience hard to match nor describe, but let’s try.

The Great Pandemonium (4:23)

I was one of the few lucky ones to hear this one, Hunter’s Season and Thespian Drama on the spring 2010 Pandemonium Over Europe tour, and ofcourse I immediately found it to be a wonderful new track. The Great Pandemonium is interesting, being both one of Kamelot’s heaviest and catchiest songs, and that’s saying a lot. It brings on new inspirations and recalls old, bringing back growls from songs like March of Mephisto (fromThe Black Halo) and techno features that are getting more and more familiar on this album. The lyrics are top on this one, and it has a video that measure with some of the best ever produced.

If Tomorrow Came (3:56)

If Tomorrow Came is one of the album’s faster, catchier songs alongside Once Upon a Tale, but when acted out by Kamelot, even the catchiest song can’t turn away from metal. If Tomorrow Came is an in-your-face attack, a train of thought (getting there) that’s fast for the sake of being fast, and it works. It may not be a song that stays on the mind for long, but when it’s there it’s there, even for the mere moment

.

Dear Editor (1:19)

It’s not all too fair judging Dear Editor by itself as it is in fact an intro to The Zodiac, but I still will. For an intro, it is really interesting, managing to build up a heavier, spooky feel even after the race of If Tomorrow Came. The intro features the reading of a letter from the infamous Zodiac killer, which the next song is a long reference to, and not much more is needed. It works.

The Zodiac (4:01)

The Zodiac is clearly a new way Kamelot has never travelled before. Though its sinister, heavy feel is reminiscent of The Black Halo’s March of Mephisto, it is definitely not in the same vein. This is a portrait of a killer, and it is very well described. The notes travel between calm, ice-cold planning and sudden rage, before calming down again – the perfect idea of a homocidal psychopath.

Hunter’s Season (5:34)

Among the songs on the album, Hunter’s Season is probably the one which stays in the listeners’ mind best on first listen. It is both one of the speedier songs as well as one of the more emotional ones, immediately reminiscent of Finnish metal act Sonata Arctica‘s 2009 track The Last Amazing Grays. The song was written by guitarist Thomas Youngblood to the memory of his deseased mother, and the lyrics are some of Kamelot’s best.

House on a Hill (4:15)

Kamelot and ballads often go hand in hand, with golden tracks such as Sailorman’s Hymn, Abandoned and Wander, and House on a Hill is another one to add for future top lists. An emotional ballad with Epica’s Simone Simons, House on a Hill is a combination of beautiful music and wonderful lyrics. Though it is rather simplistic on first listen, allowing more casual listeners to enjoy it early, it is definitely a grower, alongside tracks such as the longer Poetry for the Poisoned. One complaint I have always had concerning Simons in Kamelot songs (such as The Haunting (Somewhere in Time) from ”The Black Halo”) is that she has never been given enough space, but her appearances on this album (this one as well as the title track) are much better, and the result is much better produced music.

Necropolis (4:18)

Necropolis is the first in a series of songs that felt extremely out of place on first listen, but this one especially is a real grower. A natural live track, it’s leading guitar alongside the technological editing of Khan’s voice hypnotises the listener, kidnapping along on a very interesting journey indeed.

My Train of Thoughts (4:07) & Seal of Woven Years (5:12)

My Train of Thoughts and Seal of Woven Years are the two of which I still have some extreme doubts. Both are really exciting songs, very different from anything Kamelot has ever done before, but they also pass by if you don’t pay attention. There is something about these two tracks that requires the listener to pay attention, maybe even just close his or her eyes and only listen to the music and lyrics and nothing else. But when you do, they are extremely interesting songs. And I don’t know if that is good or bad.

Poetry for the Poisoned I – IV

Let’s just take the splitting up thing first. This is the album’s big epic, and I should note immediately how I absolutely love it, but it is also divided into four tracks, for no apparant reason. It is seldom a good choice to divide a song up into sections, and one of the few times it is okay is when the songs can be played one by one and still enjoyed, but for example IV – Dissection can simply never be played on itself. Another reason would be if the tracks simply are so long it’s annoying (check Devil Doll‘s Dies Irae out). But on to the actual review.

The song starts out amazing with an atmospheric build in I – Incubus, and the lyrics are some of Kamelot’s finest works. The song however somehow works into a strange quotation on the being of the incubus, and while it doesn’t ruin it doesn’t help either – it could easily have been skipped or replaced and the song would have kept more of its atmosphere.

But most of the atmosphere is kept, and works wonderfully into II – So Long, with Simone Simons making another beautiful appearance. This is the other track that could be called a ballad on the album, and it works phenomenally. It is the longest part of the song, and it is perfect by that length, including a wonderful chorus, verses and a solo before moving into III – All is Over and IV – Dissection (I find great difficulty finding where one end and the other begin). These two have some phenomenal instrumental moments, as well as the beautiful Mozartian What if all is over? section. These parts definitely could have been longer, but they overall make it. While I at first listen thought the instrumental end of Dissection was anticlimactic, destroying what was built up in All is Over, but on additional listens it appears more and more aggressive and interesting, and while it stops quite suddenly it seems to be suiting this magnificent suite of tracks.

Once Upon a Time (3:46)

Someone described Once Upon a Time as ”if EdenEcho and Season’s End had a beautiful lovechild”, and it is true. Kamelot has always managed to find some light in the end of even the darkest story – on ”Epica” it’s Snow, on ”The Black Halo” Serenade and on ”Ghost Opera” EdenEcho – and I keep finding it harder and harder to match. But this one is a track with wonderful lyrics (I notice I keep praising the lyrics on this album), a catchy chorus and a shredding guitar solo. This is too much. This is the epitome of greatness. This is Kamelot.

Epica + Kells + ReVamp in Stockholm 26/9 2010 – concert review

Arriving at 16:00, three hours before the show, Stina and I considered ourselves pretty late, often waiting for at least four hours for most shows, but we also noticed the line being exceptionally short, with only five or so people before us (the gang just ahead of us had waited for two and a half additional hours, and the two before them were Dutch, presumably following the band around). As it turned out, the lines stayed pretty much the same, and when the show was just an hour away there were hardly fifty people in line, most of them die hard 21st century goth chics.

When the entrance open at 19:20 the line has grown somewhat, but hardly what I could have expected, and I and Stina easily make our way into the front line, the rest of the audience a mixture of symphmetalgoths and your traditional beer drinking vikings by the pub section (this is a club concert after all). As a club the audience is surely less enthusiastic and the special effects are less outstanding, but this also makes an intimate environment, perfect especially for the fans of less wellknown acts such asReVamp (and Kells I guess, but I didn’t see anyone coming for their sake).

Floor Jansen in ReVamp

ReVamp are the first to kick off, and they immediately fire the crowd up with their album intro Here’s My Hell, followed by a number of their faster tracks before the duet ballad Sweet Curse, in which lead singer Floor Jansen does both verses in comparison to the studio version (though backed up in the chorus). Still a very beautiful song, if not more beautiful, with Floor getting more part, especially as I’ve never been to fond of the almostLinkin Park-ish sound of the male verse. I’m also happy to see one of my favorites, Kill Me With Silence, and one of their biggest hits Million, with its Epica– and After Forever-like chorus that really got the crowd going before a both heavy and catchy finale with In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part: Disgraced and Head Up High. I’m sure ReVamp garnered a new section of Swedish fans as well as pleased a number of old fans. I, who never got the chance to see After Forever (Jansen’s ex band, founded by Epica leader Mark Jansen) and never having seen ReVamp before (this being their first Sweden show in existence) was certainly pleased, being met with an even more powerful sound than the album, and a band that surely had experience on stage. Jansen has an amazing spirit in her vocals, and it seems to me that she’s really been reborn with this new band.

One of the guitarists in Kells

Kells was second on stage, and they were the only band I didn’t come for. I had never heard of this French semi-symphonic metal band before the announcement of the concert, and I missed to check them out on forehand. And while I loved every moment of both ReVamp and Epica, I’m sad to say that most of Kells music seemed all too general and boring to me. The fact that they sung on French, a language I only barely understand, means less than the fact that most songs had very basic structures, that there were no interesting guitar riffs whatsoever, and that the singer sounded like a drugged-up daughter of Avril Lavigne and Amy Lee, and her very confusing dance, seeming like a strange rip-off of Sharon den Adel, destroyed the few really good moments. If the band is reading this and wants a pointer from a miserable music geek, the concept The heavier the better really works on this band. I was honestly surprised in one of the earlier songs (possibly Ailleurs) when the band fell into some crazed-out punk metal growl, and the lead singer’s vocals suddenly turned extremely promising, even reminiscent of the angrier sections of ReVamp tracks such as Kill Me With Silence. Why not turn into some female-fronted punk metal act (and I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way)?

Simone Simons of Epica performing Tides of Time

Epica, the main attraction, kicked off beautifully with their latest album intro Samadhi ~ Prelude ~ and Resign To Surrender ~ A New Age Dawns – Part IV ~, which immediately got people going. I have always said that this is the perfect intro to both an album and a concert, and I continue believing so – not only does Samadhi build up wonderful hinting and suspense that is wonderfully brought down by the immediate action of Resign to Surrender, but the latter goes really far – about two minutes if I don’t missrecall – before lead singer Simone Simons joins on stage. And while the rest of the band is awesome, Simons is for many the one big attraction (sorry, boys). The setlist is quite phenomenal, mixing old and new songs – the constant live favorite Sensorium and Epica’s answer to UnOpened; the exotic and catchy Martyr of the Free Word; the beautiful piano balladTides of Time; the more folk metal track Quietus. The (original) setlist end with two of the band’s longer tracks, The Obsessive Devotion from The Divine Conspiracy and the title track Design Your Universe ~ A New Age Dawns – Part VI ~ off their latest album – both of which are some of my favorite Epica tracks. The band leave the stage and I start to wonder whether there will be any encores (this is after all a club playing) when the keyboardist returns to congratulate us for being a wonderful audience (in a way that actually sounded honest in comparison to most when the band doesn’t know where they are and won’t remember tomorrow). The band comes up on stage and runs a trio of songs, including another one of my favorite, their first song everCry for the Moon and the all-time fan classic Consign to Oblivion (or, well, Consign to Stockholm as they called it).

I leave happy, and Stina keeps telling me the whole way home how she can’t believe the concert, immediately marking the spot for her favorite ever.

But there’s more…
Members of both ReVamp and Kells stayed for signing merchandise, and Epica offered some really awesome shirts I wish I could have bought. With my poor economy I decided upon buying a ReVamp poster and I had it signed by Floor Jansen herself (after I couldn’t speak a word and she had to ask if I wanted her to sign it – possibly more nervous than meeting both Kamelot and Sonata Arctica.

Setlist ReVamp
1. Here’s My Hell
2. In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part: All Goodbyes Are Said
3. Fast Forward
4. Sweet Curse
5. In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part: Disdain
6. Kill Me With Silence
7. Million
8. In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part: Disgraced
9. Head Up High

Setlist Kells
1. Réminiscences
2. Avant que tu
3. Ailleurs
4. Le Manége Déchanté
5. Mes Réves
6. Sans teint
7. L’Heure Que Le Temps
8. Korn
9. La sphère
10. Lueur

Setlist Epica
1. Samadhi ~ Prelude ~
2. Resign To Surrender ~ A New Age Dawns – Part IV ~
3. Sensorium
4. The Last Crusade
5. Unleashed
6. Martyr of the Free Word
7. Tides of Time
8. Quietus
9. The Obsessive Devotion
10. Design Your Universe ~ A New Age Dawns – Part VI ~
Encore 1. Cry for the Moon
Encore 2. Sancta Terra
Encore 3. Consign to Oblivion