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Gothic Metal Metal Music

[Metal/Prog] Ghost – Opus Eponymous (10th anniversary review)

This week marked the 10th anniversary release of “Opus Eponymous” from the Swedish band Ghost, which is fronted by Tobias Forge (aka Papa Emeritus). My listening to this album was in a retrospective as I was introduced to the band through their third album “Meliora” with “Cirice” four years ago. As of today, I still consider their first album as their best album. Maybe for the musical style of it, maybe from the overall atmosphere from it.
It is personally an awesome album to listen to on a regular basis. It is a 9 tracks album that is short (34 minutes shy) but nicely crafted with almost no filler. It is a festival for the hear, with this rough guitar reminding me of the early age of progressive rock, coupled with a primitive sound of a MOOG synthesizer (with primitive not being used as a pejorative connotation here, more like in the idea of the original), giving this late-70s/early-80s feels to it.
We start with “Deus Culpa” which is an church organ, which introduce us quickly to “Con Clavi Con Dio” which has this particular trance effect on me, almost psychedelic. A very good track. “Ritual”, the third track, help us to chill out while navigating through the lyrics.
Then comes the piece of resistance. My favorite track. “Elizabeth”, the fourth track. Completely devoted to tell the tale of Erzebeth Bathory, a Hungarian princess which holds on the most cruel woman from the middle-age, rivaling with Vlad “Dracul” in terms of her lust for blood, including the infamous legend (or myth) of her youth beauty perpetuated by bathing in the blood of murdered virgins. It is fast-paced, with a very complementation of the guitars and keyboards. Listening to “Elizabeth” from the original demo tape and the finished product is showing the refined product that was already there, only perfected by professional recording in a studio. We resume the trip into the darkness with “Stand by Him” and “Satan Prayer”, also very good. The seventh track, “Death Knell”, is my second track. Again, a track already present in the demo tape that was rearranged, with these Black Sabbath bells. The eight track “Prime Mover”, is another of these tracks present in their demo tape. It has this nervous and menacing guitar tones, giving this malveolent atmosphere.
“Genesis” is the closing instrumental track of the album. A bliss of primordial MOOG synthesizer coupled with excellent proggy/psychedelic rock riffs, transitioning into that synthesizer waves resulting in this absolute epic epilogue to the album, reminding me of the early days of the 80s.
If you have to get introduced to Ghost, I would certainly recommend to do it by starting with their first album, remaining at the pinnacle of my library from this band.

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Gothic Metal Metal Music Uncategorized

[Metal] Lacuna Coil – Black Anima (80%)

October was also the same month of the release of the latest album by Lacuna Coil “Black Anima”. At the helm, we have Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro as usual keeping the ship exploring and wandering over the years. It is a 14 tracks album (iTunes version, that is inclusive of three bonus tracks in the total I provided) spanning over 59 minutes of music.
We get into it with “Anima Mera”, a cryptic song that is pretty interesting and setting sort of the whole album. The second track, “Sword of Anger” is pretty okay but nothing really hooking much, as well as the third track “Reckless”. For some reason, I find this track pretty unattractive to my ears and even would sound like one of the weakest of the album. The band has a videoclip, so you can judge by yourself. The videoclip is indeed much better and is deeply inspired by Dario Argento’s “Suspiria”:

Fortunately things become interesting for me “Layers of Time”, the fourth track. Tha’ts the Lacuna Coil stuff I was looking for, that’s a song I really like that it became an earworm through these last two months. Again a videoclip to share, so enjoy the listening of that track:

The fifth track “Apocalypse”, is also a decent track and straight into the band direction. “Now and Never” reminds me a lot like “The House of Shame” of their previous album, so good stuff again from the band. “Under The Surface” is also pretty good overall. “Veneficium” is probably my second favorite track. It starts with Cristina starting a capella into a sort of chorale, following by Andreas lyrics, some of the heavy stuff that has something connecting the old fans to their old stuff, it has this wavy feeling that is so pleasant to my ears. “The End Is All I can See” is a bit strange but very fascinating to my ears. Another good track of the album.  “Save Me”, the 10th track, is pretty okay but in my opinion nothing too pretencious, something more like alternative metal. “Black Anima”, the last official track is another good one, with Cristina in my opinion being the best of her in this album, with hitting the highest notes she can.
What about the three bonus tracks? “Black Feathers”, the first of the three extra tracks, is a damn good one, I would like to have this one in the regular album in place of some weaker songs. Same for “Through The Flames”, very good one. “Black Dried Up Heart”, the last track (and the last of the bonus tracks) is also pretty decent and wished was part of the regular album tracklist.
As this album marks about 20 years of discography of the band, where does it stand? I would say still pretty well. The band went back to their heavyness a scale higher, they also embraced darkness at a higher level than their discography of their second decades. There are some good songs, and some weak songs. It is not the crush album, it takes some times to get into in and appreciate. It is overall a pretty good album and love to see the band after 20 years still being dynamic and produce some quality albums, where other bands crashed on the shores or simply let the wrenched sea become their graveyard. My only regret was missing on their North American tour that was not clearly advertised and that’s honestly disappointing. Lacuna Coil is one of these bands that performs well both in studio and live and wished I could finally see them live after this incessant game of cat and mouse.

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Gothic Metal Metal Music

[Metal/Gothic] Lacuna Coil – In A Reverie (20th anniversary album)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first album by the Italian gothic metal band Lacuna Coil “In A Reverie”. My introduction to Lacuna Coil occurred few years later than this album via their album “Unleashed Memories” that a friend lended me over, as I was deep into “The Gathering” back in that days (college years).
Until then, the Italian metal scene was pretty obscure for me, with the Italian music scene mostly represented by some pop artists such as Eros Ramazzotti or Laura Pausini that were spinning on the French airwaves, and in a more sarcastic manner their predominance of the Eurodance.
Lacuna Coil band line up changed a lot over the last 20 years with the exception of the core of the band: Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro. Both made me a very powerful singing duet that is until now pretty unique in the gothic metal scene: both sing clean, no “Beauty and The Beast” duet here. That what makes them unique, as well as their artistic style that has this unique “Lacuna Coil” flavor.
“In A Reverie” is a 9-track album covering about 43 minutes, with two distinct covers: the original cover in which both Cristina and Andrea are posing on their natural clothes, the second one (that I like more) printed for the re-issue of this album. Overall, the album is pretty homogenous, very consistent between tracks, so I will not talk much about it tracks by tracks but rather give my overall feelings in general.
However, there is one track that comes out of the ordinary, that really sounds my favorite. “To Myself I turned”. If you have heard their first EP named “Lacuna Coil”, the whole song is a revamped version of “Falling”, in a better and louder version. It was already a nugget in the EP and Lacuna Coil forged it into a song that is in my opinion the signature of the band.
The album is still spinning on my playlist, 20 years later still holds up decently. What I really liked about the songs were the melancholically lyrics that were just right for me, in a period of time that was emotionally and mentally tough, a period of transition between leaving your teenage years and growing up as an adult. Lacuna Coil was part of that transition and helped cope with emotions that I could not express, that I could not catharsize to other. Since that album, the band has been experiencing a constant change in their line-up, being experiencing various styles (mostly going into a more alternative/mainstream form of metal) but still remains a staple band, one of the few flagship of the Italian metal scene in my library.
Seeing them on tour is next in my bucket list, and I guess my best bet is to see them in Europe, as the band rarely comes abroad and tour in the US (or if they do, in a very few select dates).

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Female-fronted Metal Gothic Metal Metal Music Symphonic Metal Uncategorized

[Metal/Opera Metal] Lux in Tenebris – To a New Eternity (EP)

After deciding to put an end on Darkonelly project band few years ago, Marion-Lamita have been working hard behind the scene to produce something different. The announcement back then left me skeptical and somehow disappointed. We can say that  her new project Lux in Tenebris has been producing something interesting. After releasing some solo titles on Youtube (that left me in a limbo, neither being enthusiastic nor being pessimistic about), Lux in Tenebris has released its first EP titled “To A New Eternity” last Friday. Because it is an EP, I don’t give a score but I will anyway give my thoughts on it. The first thing that strikes is the contribution of Liv Kristine (ex-Theatre of Tragedy, ex-Leaves Eyes). Liv has been always been supportive of small bands, in particular during their freshman album. Delain, Hydra…..
This is an EP of 7 titles lasting about 35 minutes with two interludes. We start the EP with  “Divine Mankind” bringing us Marion’s soprano voice, that same haunting voice from Darkonelly. What I like about, in this time in which female-fronted metal symphonic metal is facing a huge glut of bands relying heavily on post-production, is the very particular moderate use of the keyboards. The music in this one is okay, sometimes a bit cheesy. Tony is in the growls on this one, a first time for him. Fairly good for a first-timer. The second one, “Chaos in Beauty” is sounding in my opinion more interesting, sometimes reminding me of Therion. Thats a good track you should listen.
The third track “Mystic Euphonia”, is my opinion the worst track of the album. I don’t know, it must be the beginning of the song that induce some aversive reaction. I don’t like it. At all. The first interlude “Temple of The Soul” has this kind of tribal vibe that is not bad. “Triangle of Light” is my opinion, the best of the EP. It has this pharaonic vibes by the beginning of the song, a very good mixture of the guitars and the synthesizers. It gives me “la palate” so it must be good. Quickly follows the second interlude “The Imperator’s Arrival”.  The last song “The Grand Design”, again featuring Liv Kristine.  It is quite good, decent work here and I would definitely recommend listening to the song.

After almost four years since the disbanding of Darkonelly project, this is the first significative piece of work (in the form of a EP) to emerge from Marion’s effort during her transition into Lux In Tenebris. Although the EP is overall quite pleasant to listen, at this stage I consider it as a fairly rough and raw diamond. Considering it is a project mostly driven by Marion at this point, it is a decent EP to give a try on. It shows some potential, but at this time it needs refining to achieve an optimal shape. It also tells you that having Liv on board is likely that their artistic potential is here. Lets let the sunrise shed some lights and allow the project to emerge from the darkness into light, when opera and metal shed through the darkness.

 

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Female-fronted Metal Gothic Metal Metal Music Uncategorized

[Metal/Gothic] Theatre of Tragedy – Aegis (20th Anniversary Release)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the second album by the Norwegian gothic metal band Theatre Of Tragedy. Listening to it reminds me how great the 90s was for the gothic metal scene and one of the most prolific period in which we have seen most of the metal divas entering the scene and in their trails new genre of metal in Europe and in particular from Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland).
Indeed, that period was the golden age for the second wave coming from Norway. This time a much different style and approach than the first wave made notoriously famous by the church burning and the intestine hatred between some black metal bands (You cannot go without mentioning the name of Varg Vikenes).
This second wave brought one of the most refined sounds to be heard in gothic metal by two Norwegian bands (Tristania and Theatre of Tragedy) supported by some of the most talented feminine voice in metal.
One of them is Liv Kristine, certainly one of the most hypnotizing voice in the “female-fronted metal bands” (I hate that word but I use it applied to the context of that period).
In this second album, named “Aegis”, Theatre of Tragedy learnt from their first album and perfected their sound and Liv her vocal performance. The result? A masterpiece of Gothic Metal. The album is a 10-track album spanning for about an hour.
We get aspired into it straight by the first title “Cassandra” wrapped by the mysterious atmosphere and the vocals of Liv. It is rapidly followed by “Lorelei”, that is more fast-paced than “Cassandra” but in perfect manner. “Angelique”, takes more into a melodic ballad that is reminiscent of a Lacuna Coil. A very relaxing track to listen. “Aoede”, the fourth track, is original and maybe very disorienting because at first we don’t know if they sing in Norwegian on this track until you read the lyrics and assume they wrote in Old English. Thats give the extra amount of mystery and stimulation. The fifth track, “Siren”, is certainly my favorite. By its composition, by its lyrics and by the voice of Liv Kristin. Definitely Liv is the Siren in this song, as we can only succumb to her voice and drown in the waves of melancholy and sadness. I would give any day a shoot to a “Theatre of Tragedy” to a “Leaves Eyes”. This is the kind of track that makes this album a must-have in your collection.
The rest of the album is also very good with tracks such as “Samantha”, “Venus”, “Poppaea”, giving an escape and some well refined gothic metal songs. “Bacchante” is probably my least favorite and its rightfully eclipsed by “Virago”, my second favorite of the album.
If you want to judge the quality of the album, submit it to the test of time and give it a listening session 20 years after the release. While in the 90s, some claimed the metal scene was deadbeat by grunge and alternative, it was only an appearance. It just needed to be searched, to be initiated by a friend or by a savvy record store to realize that underneath the visible, a whole new genre of metal was growing and morphing giving us some of the best sounds of the 90s. And Theatre of Tragedy was one of them.

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Female-fronted Metal Gothic Metal Metal Music Uncategorized

[Metal/Gothic] Lacuna Coil – Lacuna Coil EP (20th Anniversary)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the first EP of Lacuna Coil titled “Lacuna Coil”, released on April 7th 1998. Little knew that 20 years later, Lacuna Coil would have become a reference in the gothic metal scene and a flagship for representing the Italian metal around the globe. Lacuna Coil hit hard with their EP, with a unique vocal duo impersonated through Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia that as today remains the founding members still present in the band line-up.
The EP is a six-tracks totaling a 28 minutes of pure delight in terms of gothic metal. Looking back to it, I would say that the musical style is maybe more frugal than the current direction, in the sense the sound is raw from instruments with little arrangements. Otherwise it is some pure Lacuna Coil, especially when you got into the group via their second album “Unleashed Memories”. They got it right, straight from the first try with this EP.
You recognize great bands by being able to get back into their discography and find the same enjoyment in listening to their debut album or extended plays.

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Female-fronted Metal Gothic Metal Metal Music Progressive Metal Uncategorized

[Metal/Prog] Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart (90%)

oceansslumber-banishedheart-reviewbanner-centurymedia

Do you remember how you used to get into listening awesome bands by having a friend recommending you an album? Yep, that happened to me as Geo recently recommended to give a shout to Oceans of Slumber latest album “The Banished Heart”.
Oceans of Slumber is a prog metal band from Houston, Texas elegantly blending various genres in their artistic directions with nice flavors of gothic, symphonic, sludge, doom and blackgazing into their music, all supported by the very unique voice of Camille Gilbert.
With their third album (and the first album for me :)), we have here an awesome 11-tracks album spanning over 65 minutes of metallic musical escape, swirling you into an euphoric daze.
We get into the album with “Decay of Disregard”, nicely introduced by piano notes giving blend of gothic and doom-infused ambiences and nicely introduced us to Camille’s voice. If I have to pick something, it is certainly her voice that is very unique from usually what I am listening to (mezzo-soprano opera, growls). Camille’s melancholic voice (almost a blues type of voice) is certainly the stunning part when you get introduced to the band.
“Fleeting Vigilance” and “At Dawn” have “je ne sais quoi”, something remembering the old days of Anathema and Swallow the Sun.
“The Banished Heart” is probably my favorite. Why? I dont know, because of its strong infusion of doom and gothic elements inside the track, all wrapped into a flow of a piano solo. Simply serendipitous track to listen. Just listen to it!

“The Watcher”, fifth song of the album, serves us as an interlude relying heavily on the synthetic sounds giving this feeling of synth wave. “Etiolation” continues and sounds more like regular prog metal. Thats fine for me but not transcended either. In the opposite, the following track “A Path of Broken Stars” have this kind of melodic power metal reminiscant of some old Kamelot tunes. A damn good one to listen. “Howl of The Rougarou” starts with half an acoustic, followed by regular and melancholic tones.
“Her in the Distance” is another interlude, again all betting on the piano and a strong Gothic atmosphere. Oh yeah, this is how you can make me happy. “No Color, No Light” starts with something like straight from an old Anathema album (in other words some amazing Gothic vibes), with all the doom and the gloom with it that nicely blend with Camille’s melancholic voice. My second favorite track!. “Wayfaring Stranger” is the last track of the album. It is good, but maybe a bit too much “dubstep” for my ears.
Taken together, this is an amazing album to pick for this month. It will take out of your comfort zone into new musical venues and experimentation and blending with different subgenera in metal. I always criticize the US metal bands community for revolving around the same “death/grind/metalcore” circle, leading in my opinion a poorer diversity and complexity compared to Europe (notably, US metalheads often dismiss European metal bands for being too complex or not tough enough to their ears). That  often ignoring some shining nuggets outside of this range. Oceans of Slumbers is one of these nuggets that worth being discovered and supported, rivaling with some of the best band on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. For this reason, they get my “album of the month” sticker.

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Doom Metal Female-fronted Metal Gothic Metal Melodic Death Metal Metal Music Power Metal Uncategorized

[Metal] Happy Holidays! My 15 metal albums and EPs of 2017!

Happy Holidays everyone! As we are now engaged in the last week of 2017, it is a great time for me to go back through my library and pick my 12 albums of 2017. No particular rankings, most of the albums have been reviewed in my blog. I have set the EPs aside since they are not counted as album.

1. January: Xandria – Theater of Dimension

2017 started with a bang with Xandria releasing their latest album and the second album with Dianne Von Giersbergen as front vocals. The motto was “harder, faster, stronger, better”. Damn it was a good album to listen, Dianne being perfect as usual. Unfortunately, the rest of the year was less good for the band. The second leg of the US tour cancelled, Dianne thrown in the residue bin like an used ragdoll. Fortunately, that also means that Dianne is likely reviving Ex-Libris.

2. January: Au Champ Des Morts – Dans La Joie

It is not often that you find French metal bands getting under the spotlight (unless you are Gojira or Alcest), even less French metal bands that sing in French. This was a pure random encounter in my discography, during a Bandcamp campaign (damn Bandcamp is such a great place to discover bands). Mixing elements of black metal and doom, it is a delight to listen to the French lyrics. A must-have in your collection if you are also attracted to the dark side of the Force and needing to find a solace to old wounds.

3. February: FT-17 – Marcellin S’en Va En Guerre

Another Bandcamp pick. Aside from sciences, metal, Sci-Fi and video games, I have another great interest. History! In particular, I am very fixated on World War I: “la Der Des Ders”; “La Grande Guerre”; “La Guerre Des Poilus”. Don’t ask me how my brain clicked on that particular war, maybe because of that field trip during my middle school year at “Le Col Du Linge”, harboring trenches and a museum of this horrible war. The context of military history is not much new and those who know Sabaton know their power-metal hits narrating historical battles. This one is particular. This first album of the melodic death metal band FT-17 (named after one of the first type of French assault tank “Renault FT-17”) is particular as it follow the PFC Marcellin Trouve, writing to his notes his experience of the war, from the joyful draft and heading to the front line to the delusion of the war.

4. March: Midnight Sorrow – Pick A Tale

March was highlighted from the release of the first album by Midnight Sorrow, another French band but this time from my hometown and in the Symphonic Metal genre. I really liked their first EP “At First” and this album took some time to come in, but it was indeed for the better. Coming from their EP, you can hear the maturation of the band in both the musical arrangement (bolder, more confident) and also from Maureen’s voice (in which you can really hear her progress on her vocal abilities). I usually hate when the album is recycling old songs from the previous EP but the band went the extra mile and revisited their songs giving them a second breath with their more experienced sound. It was such a delight to hear that album.
https://youtu.be/syiCMalo44Q

5. May: Seven Kingdoms – Decennium

One thing that I found a bit boring on the US metal scene is the vast domination of the death metal scene and its derived genres (metalcore, deathcore, grindcore…). For some reasons, European favorite genres like Power, Symphonic or Doom are not that popular. So when you have a US metal band playing outside this “terra cognita” it is a welcome. When that same group slap you with a damn awesome album, it is even more welcome.
Hail to Seven Kingdoms, straight out of the Florida panhandle. Florida has a reputation of being the weirdos in the US but they are also home for two awesome US power metal bands: Kamelot and Seven Kingdoms. 72 minutes of a powerful joyride into the meadows of an enchanted land, riding over a robot unicorn, riding in the sunset of a binary star system, slashing an horde of orcs running over using your proton axe to slay the foolish and the foes. If Warhammer 40K should have a soundtrack, I would definitively pick Seven Kingdoms. Just listen to “Stargazer” and tell me you are not all pumped up.

6. May: Alwaid – The Machine & The Beast

Alwaid is another French Metal band that highlighted my album picks in 2017. This second album was quite a departure of their first album “Lacus Somnorium”, that was deeply anchored in atomspheric doom metal. This second is much louder, faster and heavier, more anchored into melodic death but yet with keeping their signature melodics. Again a very good pick and an extensive review of the album on my blog site.

7. June: Neverlight – Nova Red

Neverlight (from Colorado) is this kind of UFOs in my library, standing out by their inability to put them in my classical shelves. Labelled themselves as “dark progressive metal”. It offers a very unique prog metal songs, sharing some similarities with Amaranthe (if you are heavy in the keyboards) but yet very different as it has more darker tones and lyrics. You know what? Enough with the talk. A damn good prog metal album in my library and it pays off to wander into “terra incognito”, just give a try.

8. August: Seven Spires – Solveig

This was another pleasant surprise, as this band straight out of Boston (MA) came out from nowhere and got me hooked up with their title “The Paradox”, directly inspired by Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. The album per se was very good: engaging melodics, pumping you up with energy and willing you to summon a mosh pit in your cubicle. Playing in different registers, surfing from gothic metal songs like “The Siren/Encounter” to something more mainstream like “The Cabaret of Dreams” to some melodic power metal songs like “Choices” or “Distant Lights”. My favorites remains though “The Paradox” and “Burn”. I leave you with the Paradox official video so can make your choice.

9. September: Paradise Lost – Medusa

Having one of the Unholy Trinity bands release a new album is always welcomed. Paradise Lost “Medusa” is one of these welcome. Adopting a “back to the roots” in terms of the artistic direction of the album, splurging into death doom made this album very special and a hit amongst critiques. It got a very good review on my blog, you can find it.

10. September: Arch Enemy – Will To Power

After 3 years of waiting since “War Eternal”, Michael Amott finally broke the silence and brought on “Will To Power” right to celebrate the 20 years of the band. It was also the second album featuring Alissa White-Gluz. So it was a litmus test for many of the fans and the result was far from disappointing, also a long awaited moment since Jeff Loomis joined the band. It was a hit at first sight with in my opinion a better writing than “War Eternal”. It is brutal (with even some punk influence in the melodics) right from the first track “The Race”, followed by “The World Is Yours” flying into epic melodic power ballads with “The Eagle Flies Alone”. Following the release, the band started the US tour. It was magic! The best concert of 2017.

11. September: Septicflesh – Codex Omega

Septicflesh is a unique band mastering the blending of a classical orchestra with the black symphonic metal style giving you an auditory experience of some of the paintings of Bosch, very finely crafted orchestral arrangement, navigating the different layers of Hell through “Dante’s Inferno”. With Septicflesh, you are welcomed into the Hades Kingdom, navigating through the Styx with Spiro being your guide. A must have if you are attracted by the Dark Side. Considering Spiros and the band are coming nearby for a gig in March, I guess I will add it in the bucket list.

12. September: Clouds – Destin

Whatever I listen, I always come back to doom metal. Behind the darkness and the melancholic tones, I find solace and relief to my mind. There are words I cannot speak, there are feelings I cannot tell, there are wounds that I cannot heal. Doom metal provide me with this opportunity of a catharsis. In sorrow, i found my relief.
This is the case of Clouds “Destin”. Nicely composed, it helps open myself to my mind, let all my sadness, my pain and my sorrow exhale and breath. It allows a deep introspection that few releases can help me cope with these feelings. If you like doom, you MUST try this band.

13. October: Hallatar – No Stars Upon The Bridge

Hallatar is a side project involving various Finnish metal band members including Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis) at the vocals, Juha Raivio (Swallow The Sun) at the guitars and Gas Lipstick (ex-HIM) at the drums. This album is one of the best doom album of the year for different reasons.
Firstly, it is a an album dedicated to the memory of late Aleah Starbridge that left us orphan last year. Secondly, it is an requiem and eulogy album to Aleah, using her poems, giving us a last intimate moment to mourn. The result is simply fantastic and heavy loaded in pain and sorrow. I just hope that this album is closing our mourning on Aleah’s passing and not become an opportunity for anyone to make financial gains on her.

14. November: Evanescence – Synthesis

After a hiatus of over 5 years in terms of album, Amy Lee released “Synthesis” last November. It is per se not a new album, rather it is a an album providing a reorchestration of selected songs spanning through the previous three albums of the band. Some of the songs sound as good as the originals (e.g. “Lithium”), some are even better than original (e.g. “Never Go Back”) and some simply bomb the original (“Bring Me To Life”). It remembers how great Amy is on the vocals and on the piano, and really make us think if Amy decided to “Europeanize” her musical style by taking the best of Symphonic metal.

15. November: Beyond Forgiveness – The Great Wall

“The Great Wall” is the first full-album from the US gothic/symphonic metal band Beyond  Forgiveness (Colorado Springs, CO). I reviewed the album extensively earlier in November so I will comment that much.


The EPs and other albums that were good:
Aside from full-albums listed, there was also the release of “In This Moment We are Free – Cities” by VUUR. With Anneke Von Giersbergen fronting it, it was a great moment to listen in something much heavier than her band “A Gentle Storm”. The album was good, maybe too simple and reminded me a bit the good old times when she was with The Gathering. Maybe a bit too simplistic.
Epica also released an EP “The Solace System” that is a continuation from the “The Holographic Principle”. Again, it was awesome as usual from Epica. You can find more about in one of my previous blog posts.
Another interesting EP I got my hand to was “The Ascension” from Casket Robbery (Madison, WI) formed by Cory Scheider. You may not know Cory but if I am telling you that Cory was part of Luna Mortis, then it will all make sense. Cory put a bit away the melodic death tunes from Luna Mortis and brings in more the brutality into the melodic death. With Megan Orvold bringing the brutal vocals in the line of Angela Gussow (ex-Arch Enemy), you will wish to open a pit of hell inside your living room.

Finally, this year I also got introduced to sludge metal by attending a gig featuring two bands: Rozamov (Boston, MA) and The Ditch & The Delta (Salt Lake City, UT). If you are unfamiliar with sludge metal, it is a blend of doom metal with some Southern death and punk. It has this roughness and Southern flavor that my current doom library is missing. It worth the try. Here two videos are listed from the two bands: Rozamov – “Serpent Cult” and The Ditch & The Delta – “F*ck on Asphalt”

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Female-fronted Metal Gothic Metal Metal Music Uncategorized

[Metal/Gothic] Evanescence – Synthesis (85%)

ortexAfter several years of hiatus, Amy Lee and Evanescence broke their silence by releasing “Synthesis”, an album providing a re-orchestration of their previous songs. Amy dropped the guitars and the drums to let place to other instruments. Amy is already gifted by a beautiful voice and a talent to play piano. When Evanescence mixed her voice with her piano melodics, this is where my auditory and limbic system explode into a serendipity.
Evanescence played a sort of gateway for me to explore the symphonic metal genre (this is how I got introduced to Nightwish and Within Temptation) but never went fully symphonic. How does the album stands without metal riffs and drums?
It stands good, some songs are impressive by their intimacy and their simpleness, some are kind of a disappointment. Let’s go through together the 16-tracks spanning a bit more than 63 minutes.
We start with “Overture”, an instrumental opening track that introduce us to the piano and violin tones that are the trademark of the album. The first track is the cover of “Never Go Back” from their third album “Evanescence”. Listening to the piano opening sequence is just a thrill on the skin, giving me some goosebumps. This is an example of a successful cover by its ability to remove the heaviness of the original and still sounds so wonderful to the ears. The third track, “Hi-Lo”, was one track that was initially planned to be in “Evanescence” but was not retained. As is it is, it is such a beautiful and intimate song that makes you wonder how it would have sounded in its metal version.
In the opposite, “My Heart is Broken” (the 4th track) sounds much better in its original cover because it already provided such a wonderful blend of the metal, piano and Amy’s voice. The 5th and 6th tracks were sounding as good as the original cover are “Lacrymosa” (The Open Door), “The End of The Dream” (Evanescence).
“Unraveling”, the 7th track posing as an instrumental and melancholic piano solo interlude is sounding so beautiful by its own.
“Imaginary”, the 8th track, is one of the biggest disappointment. The original one, already present in their EP “Origin” was simply perfect as it was, a perfect blend of Amy musical and vocal performance with the heaviness. It was one of my favorite of “Fallen”. This cover just axed it and fail to give justice. What the heck Amy on that one?
“Secret Door” is as good as the original one. Both were instrumental in their conception, very light and sober so they are very comparable. Some of the finest compositions of the band and kind of make you wish they pursued into the direction of Within Temptation or Nightwish. “Lithium”, another of my favorite from “Fallen”, also received the good treatment even amplifying the beauty of the original version.
“Lost in Paradise”, the 12th track, is another failed attempt and liked the original more than the cover in this one. “Your Star”, contrasts and shows how a cover can give back some justice to a track often went unnoticed in the original album (The Open Door).
Track 14, “My Immortal” is the litmus test. I have listened to two versions of the track back in the days: the radio edit version that was heavy and one bootleg downloaded from P2P (Kazaa or eDonkey, I don’t remember) that had the instrumental segment purely on the piano. The cover one revives the bootleg ones, embellishing it and making it even better. Damn, I wished this track and “Bring Me to Life” were not appended to the cinematic turd called “Daredevil”.
“The In-Between” is a piano solo new song written for the album. Oh my! Such a delight of listening Amy playing the piano on this one and emphasize the grave notes giving this melancholic feel to the song. Nobody plays the piano in the metal scene than Amy.
“Imperfection”, the last track is the last “meh” on that album. Not a big fan of it, sounds like a mishmash of styles that makes in my opinion an undigestible thing to listen.Be a judge by yourself you can listen to it below.
https://youtu.be/7_XoKJP1XK4

Now I am really mad and disappointed i missed on the latest Evanescence tour (due to scheduling conflict) because after 15 years and the loss of Ben after “Fallen”, Evanescence still stand strong of its feet and really should explore some facets of the symphonic metal. A recent meet and greet between Amy and Simone Simons (Epica) could open up some collaboration, especially with some input from Mark.

 

 

Categories
Gothic Metal Metal Music Symphonic Metal

[Metal/Gothic] Beyond Forgiveness – The Great Wall (80%)

US metal bands playing Gothic Metal or Symphonic Metal are fairly rare birds, in contrast to Europe in which I found the market on the verge to precipitate. Beyond Forgiveness (Colorado Springs, CO) is one of these band that attracted me attention with their EP “The Ferryman’s Shore” and released a couple of weeks ago their first album “The Great Wall”.
How does it fare for a first album? It fares very well, navigating into the current of gothic, symphonic and folk metal keeping upmost of the musical composition “hand-crafted” (in others not over-relying on the keyboards and the studio processing). The result is very pleasant, maybe lacking some ambitious songs that hook you on, but a very nice escaping album that result me in calling the band some metal “troubadours” telling tales, fables and fiends straight out of the middle ages.
This is an album spanning over 10 tracks spanning over 58 minutes. The good point is all the stuff inside are all original materials, no rearrangement of existing materials from their previous EP and singles.
We get into it by the “End of Times”, their first track. It is setting the tones: some good classic metal tones, from the early days of gothic and symphonic metal. Personally, I like that especially considering that a lot of new comers playing the “symphonic” card abuse and overuse the keyboards and post-processing. We quickly transition into the second track and third tracks “The Great Wall” and “Sanctuary”. Good stuff so far. “Imprisoned” fare into more the symphonic metal than the previous track.
“Interlude”, an instrumental melodic ballad track gives the rest of the wandering bard, very nice interlude allowing to appreciate the guitar plays from Richard and Greg. This interlude track also announce a transition in the album, towards a more symphonic type of tone. Whereas “Moment of Truth” sounds more like the first half of the album, “Never Before” has this kind of old-style Nightwish style into it that is not bad. “Dream Before I sleep” is what I call an acoustic track with the voice of Talia accompanied mainly by a piano solo. Good. “I will fight Till The End” brings back the heaviness, just for this track as the last track “Every Breath” brings it more a folk feeling to the music.
Overall the album is quite good but I failed to find something to hook me on. Usually I have one or two “must-listen” song in an album but not this time. The album is very homogenous, maybe a bit too much. Something is still missing to make it a great, I don’t know something bold.
Nevertheless, it is a good starter, give a try and if you like your metal seasoned into some old school gothic and symphonic, give these guys a try, their album is available on Bandcamp and iTunes.