Classical Music Metal Music Symphonic Metal Uncategorized

[Metal/Symphonic] Therion – Beloved Antichrist (90%)

If you have been in the metal scene, the name of Therion should sound familiar to you. Therion is a kind of unique metal band, always in the avant-garde and always in a constant rethinking of their artistic direction, following their inspiration. They compose and perform albums that follow their interest without worrying to irate their hardcore fanbase. With Therion, each album is a discovery by its own unable to predict from the previous albums. And most of the time, they deliver an outstanding piece of work.
And again Therion strikes hard with their album “Beloved Antichrist”. A 3-CD album totaling over 3 hours and playing like an opera metal with an amazing vocal performance. This is an album I cannot review as I would because of its size (46 tracks and 3 hours) but also because of its almost perfection. You could have this album put into an opera performance and people would give you a hard time that this is a metal band behind this masterpiece. I will point my favorite tracks.
“Through Dust, Through Rain” (Track 3), “What Is Wrong?” (Track 16), “Forgive Me” (Track 35) oh my! Who’s the lead female vocalists behind these tracks? It is so beautiful.
“Never Again” (Track 5), “Night Reborn” (Track 20), “Curse of The Fallen” (Track 28), “Astral Sophia” (Track 31) some of the heavy tracks albums reminding me some of the previous Therion work. This is what Therion is so unique, reminding us their quintessence in blending metal and opera-quality vocals.
“The Solid Black Beyond”, “The Crowing of Splendour” (Track 7 and 8), “Pledging Loyalty” (Track 19), “To Where I Weep” (Track 30), “Rise To War” (Track 40). This is some classical composition, oh this is heaven to ears!
“Anthem” (Track 12), “Theme Of Antichrist” (Track 46), a perfect blending of classical opera with heavy metal melodics.
Without doubt, Therion overachieved themselves by producing the longest album (3CDs lasting over 3 hours), a pure marvel of opera metal with quality opera male and female vocals. Such a perfect musical arrangement you could imagine such album put in motion on a stage performance. Definitely if you have to pick an album for February, this was the one you had to pick!


Classical Music Female-fronted Metal Metal Music Symphonic Metal Uncategorized

[Symphonic Metal] Thy Shade – The Last Goodbye (85%)

November ended and I was felt something was missing. There were some good releases: Mercy Isle, Metallica, The Agonist……They were good but still i did not found something that would break the chart to gain the album of the month.
I guessed at the 11th hour came an unexpected album, thanks to “Femmes du Metal” for bringing me this album.
This is the first album of Thy Shade, a US Symphonic Metal band from Denver, Colorado. Having a US Symphonic Metal band is always welcome as they are some rare birds. But also having a Symphonic Metal band that dont fall in the trap of the over-production and over-processing is rare nowadays.
This is the strength of this album, indeed flowing in the same than the Vivaldi Metal project by brining back the Symphonic to its root: the classic with a touch of metal. This is why I give this album the title “Album of the Month” for November.
It is a 11-tracks, 45 minutes album nicely done for a first album.
It first starts with a “Prelude” that sets the done of the album: very simple musical arrangement with guitar riffs a la Yngwie Malmsteen. It starts with “Change”, straight into symphonic metal tone yet not too much loaded. Something simple but not fluffy, allowing us to discover Diana Shade, a soprano singer. Nothing exceptional but starting slowly and crescendo. It is followed by “The Last Goodbye” a melancholic song that raises the bar in a higher level and let us appreciate Diana vocal range, making one of my favorite song of the album.
“Fantasy” is one of the few tracks that brings on the power-melodic, sounding much more metal than the previous title. A nice one but there are better songs awaiting. The masterpiece is certainly Adagio, inspired by “Adagio in G Minor” from Tomaso Albinioni,  having this feeling of the very classic Yngwie Malmsteen “Icarus Dream” to it. Simply majestic and really bringing the symphonic to the symphonic metal. Diane is sublime in this song. Note also the participation of  a tenor, a rare fact that need to be underlined.

“Final Chapter” brings back the power-metal into it, that is pleasant and engaging. Things slowdown again with “O Divine Redeemer”, another track surfing on the melancholic tones and allowing us to fully enjoy Diana’s vocals. “Dies Irae” is one the heaviest and surprisingly one song that disappointed because I was expecting to hear “Dies Irae” from Mozart as a main inspiration?
Finally the album concludes with “Bring Back The Light” that sounds just right for the holidays season, followed by “Innegiamo” and “Pie Jesu” giving the classical with a touch of metal.
In times where the symphonic metal genre is becoming oversaturated with sound-alike bands that bet on over-arragnemnt and production, Thy Shade “The Last Goodbye” is like a bowl of fresh air that brings the classical to the symphonic metal. What makes the symphonic so great is the perfect alloy of the beauty of the classical music blended with the heavy and roughness of the metal. If the US was looking for her national Tarja, Diana is certainly the perfect fit for that position. Simply majestic!

Classical Music Metal Symphonic Metal Uncategorized

[Metal/Classic] Vivaldi Metal Project – The Four Seasons (80%)

Vivaldi, one of the master composer in classical music, one of the best Italian composer from the 18th century. If we have to cite a composition that everybody knows without even been to cite is certainly “the Four Seasons” that almost everyone knows by hearing the tunes.
If you have followed my blog for a while, you will have noticed my passion for both metal music and for the classical. For a long time, you either had to listen to metal or to listen to classical, as these two genres were considered non-soluble into each other. However some metal legends got their inspiration from classical music.
Take for instance Yngwie Malmsteen, the virtuoso of metal that came from a family of classical music and brillantly infused this classical music into metal. Or take for example Nightwish, maybe the first metal band to have Tarja Turjunen, a professional mezzo-soprano front that brought the opera lyric and the guitar riffs, bass shreds and drums into a beautiful blend and paved  the way to a whole genre in the metal scene named “Symphonic Metal”.
Today we are celebrating the 275th death anniversary of Vivaldi, just in time to review the album “The Four Seasons” released a week ago from a project named “The Vivaldi Metal Project”. This is a 14 track albums that get inspired by the original “Four Seasons” by Vivaldi. This project has been involving a lot of musicians from the metal genre, for instance Ailyn (ex-Sirenia) or Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire). One of the caveat (at least from the digital version I obtained from iTunes) is the lack of booklet that let us know the contribution of which artists into each track. You can guess the vocals behind some, but not all.

The album per se does follow the same order than the original “Four Seasons” (Spring/Summer/Fall and Winter),except the first track “Escape From Hell” that can be considered as prelude track. I will use the original sequence and name the tracks matching.

We start then with the “Illusion of Eternity” that starts not too heavy and progressively become heavier but very dynamic. This is followed by “Vita” that constitutes the second part of Spring, a very nice guitar solo that reminds me some work by Yngwie Malmsteen, followed by a male tenor voice and the heavy layer giving a nice blending to Vivaldi’s original composition. Finally, we conclude the Spring act with “Euphoria” that is not much heavy and very orchestral but I found flourishing well the original track from Vivaldi.

Summer is in my favorite act of Vivaldi’s composition in the Four Seasons, bringing this dynamic and fast tones that nicely matches to metal songs. This startz with “Sun of God”, a solo piano version followed by heavy guitars with a duel male and female front voices, I particularly liked the duet violin and guitar that marks the nice blending of the bold and the beautiful. “Immortal Soul”, sounds like a melodic metal ballad but maybe deviates more from the original track than other tracks, going into its own inspirations. “Thunderstorm” takes the end third part of the act, further emphasizing the original boldness with fast-paced guitars and keyboards, giving the frenzy of a summer thunderstorm, amplyfing the boldness and majesticness of the original composition.
Certainly the best part of the album, well arranged and orchestrated. If you had to pick tracks, this is the one to pick.

“The Age of Dreams” brings on the opening sequence of the third act, this is one of my least favorite track, as I found the blending not the best and maybe too much overplayed. “Alchemy” and “Stige” are somehow confusing in my ears because they give me the hardest time to place them track-to-track with the original composition.

Winter is brought nicely by “The Meaning of Life” starting with a nice guitar solo supported by bass and nicely incorporating the violin as interludes. “The Final Hour” feels like out of place. “Grande Madre” deviates a lot of the original piece but gives a nice metal track. Finally, we end with “Doomsday”, also deviating from the original score a lot, making the connection difficult with the original material.

Overall, I found it was a nice try but I felt something was missing, sometimes I felt it was too much arranged, giving this overprocessed feeling making it too much to appreciate. Something that Yngwie was indeed capable to finely coordinate in his masterpiece “Icarus’ Dream Suite” in which he fronted a whole philarmonic orchestra with his guitar. You cannot beat Yngwie in that game. If Beethoven has reincarnated in a modern musician, it would be certainly be Yngwie.

I found this album can show to a lay audience that metal and classical music are indeed sharing a lot of commonalities behind distinct appearances. If you want to give a try on how a classical music would sound in accessible metal, try this album. If you are indeed already a classical audiophile and seasoned metal, then Yngwie remains in my own opinion the gold standard.