Filmed at Wacken Open Air Festival in front of 85,000 fans, Nightwish brings us hands down the most complete and well-crafted live release of 2013. Directed by Ville Lipiäinen, this is one hell of a release that brings to life the band’s amazing live chemistry and unrivaled showmanship. Filled with all of the band’s hit songs, this release will impress any fan of the band and will surely convince anybody that is skeptical about Floor Jansen’s place in the band.
Opening with two of our favorite songs of the band “Dark Chest of Wonders” and “I Wish I Had an Angel”, Floor will immediately blow all the non-believers away with her commanding presence and ownership of these classic Nightwish songs. With the backdrop of 85,000 people at Wacken, this release really brings the viewer into the meat of things and gives the vibrant experience of being at the festival minus the mud, standing for hours, and sweaty Metalheads bumping into you.
Released as a deluxe hardcover book with 2 DVDs or 2 Blu-rays and 3 CDs, “Retrospect” marks the band’s 10 year anniversary with an amazing performance with more than 70 musicians on stage with the Reményi Ede Chamber Orchestra and the Choir of Miskolc National Theatre. This release features a massive 180+ minutes of material, perfect for any diehard fan of the band.
Since the first disc, the band takes the stage with a commanding presence led by Simone Simmons and Mark Jansen. The choir arrangements are amazing and all the band’s hits are delivered with perfect execution. With an impressive stage and a fired up crowd since the first minute, this live release perfectly captures the experience of watching Epica live and the incredible intensity of all band members.
Marking the band’s tenth year anniversary, today we have Leave’s Eyes latest release “Symphonies of the Night”. As anybody can expect, this 54 minute release is filled with lush atmospheric arrangements, angelic vocals, and a healthy dose of heavy guitars. The band reached far back into their origins and delivers a very effective mixture of elements from all their albums in a very cohesive and epic way. With a central theme about heroines through history, the band is at the top of their game and shows no signs of stalling or being content with their previous achievements.
The album opens with the haunting “Hell to the Heaves”, a track fueled by Liv’s extraordinary vocals and their contrast with Alexander Krull’s grunts. The music is quite reminiscent of their previous album “Meredead”, but with an edgier and even more aggressive take. The first instant hit comes under the name of “Fading Earth”, a track with very powerful guitar leads and a super catchy chorus section. For those of you that prefer the folkier side of the band circa “Vinland Saga”, “Galswintha” and “Nightshade” will satisfy your cravings.
Being huge fans of the band’s earlier material from their “Enter” and “The Dance” days, we constantly grew apart from their Pop-ish music over the last few years. While they have some great songs here and there, most of their ‘mainstream’ recent music has not impressed us much. Well, with the EP “Paradise (What About Us?)” we are quite surprised that the band returns to some of their earlier foundations (“Mother Earth”) and delivers quite an excellent short release.
The immediate standout is the EP’s title-track, featuring an amazing duet with none other than Tarja Turunen. In this high-intensity tune the band busts out the heavy distorted guitars and excellent atmospheric arrangements. Both Sharon and Tarja do an excellent job in this track making it quite dramatic and intense. The music is nowhere near as Pop-ish as bands like Amaranthe, making us quite enjoy this song. With the remaining tracks being demo versions, we still stand to see how much they change for the actual album, but for now we will focus on how good they are.
After a long year of fronting Nighwish, today we have Floor Jansen’s band ReVamp and their sophomore release “Wild Card”. Being the charismatic and unique vocalist she is, Floor manages to make this album very special and quite engaging from beginning to end. Coming back after being sick for a while, inspiration was drawn from this period of her life, thus making this release very emotional and personal.
Opening with the first part of the trilogy “The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown” – “On the Sideline”, ReVamp starts in very high spirits with powerful guitars and the incomparable vocal leads of Floor. There are some growls thrown here and there, giving the song that extra aggressive kick. The trilogy continues with the more modern sounding “Lymbic System”, a track that has some of that Groove Metal vibe mixed with the lush keyboards and well-crafted drums.
Three years after “What Lies Beneath”, iconic singer Tarja finally returns with another bombastic release titled “Colours in the Dark”. Ever since her departure from Nightwish, Tarja has constantly been delivering amazing releases filled with her characteristic vocal style and expertly crafted with world class musicians to produce some of the most exciting and lush Symphonic Rock/Metal releases of the last few years.
Opening with the engaging “Victim of Ritual”, we get an excellent balance between catchiness, operatic singing, and explosive musical arrangements. Surrounding herself with musicians of the caliber of Mike Terrana and Max Lilja (ex-Apocalytica), Tarja manages to create very elaborate songs that fit her vocal skills perfectly and allows them to shine to the max. This release is filled with very energetic tracks such as the melancholic “Lucid Dreamer” and the engaging “Never Enough”. Other songs take darker and more classical approach like the excellent “Mystique Voyage”.
Bigger, better, quicker, and more grandiose seems to be the objective of Fleshgod Apocalypse and their monumental release “Labyrinth”. Having blown people away with the combination of dramatic orchestrations and extreme technical abilities in “Agony”, the band is ready to deliver an even more impressive and monumental release with this album.
The album kicks off with dramatic operatic vocal arrangements and over the top orchestrations on “Kingborn”. This single opening makes the last Dimmu Borgir album sound like a bunch of kids playing with Protools. In this track the band also delivers their signature Technical Death Metal with hyper fast riffs and killer drumming. “Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon)” eases into the picture with a more standard approach featuring killer growls mixed into the rich sound of the band. Don’t be fooled since there are also plenty of memorable melodic passages mixed in between all the brutal sections and lush arrangements.
Morten Veland and company have returned with a very powerful and engaging Sirenia release under the name of “Perils of the Deep Blue”. In this release we see the band going a bit back in time and bringing back some of the elements that made “Nine Destinies and a Downfall” one of their best releases six years ago. Featuring 11 tracks of majestic Symphonic/Gothic Metal, the band is seriously gunning for Epica’s crown in this genre.
After the lush and dramatic mood-setting opener “Ducere Me In Lucem”, the band really comes alive with the super catchy “Seven Windows Weep”. In this track we get lush choir arrangements to accompany Ailyn’s hypnotic vocals. With over the top orchestrations, this track and “My Destiny Coming To Pass” really set a very dynamic and overpowering atmosphere. The band also focuses on staying heavy, featuring powerful riffs and aggressive growls.
Featuring a great ensemble of talented musicians, today we have Märchenbilder and their very impressive debut release “Flickering Truth”. Formed by James Slainmann (guitars and keyboards) and Julie Belanger Roy (violin, vocals, and viola), the band has since recruited drummer Yanic Bercier (Gone in April, ex-Quo Vadis) as permanent members before the release of this excellent debut. Playing a very bombastic and symphonic Gothic Metal, this band is ready to make their mark on this very crowded and highly competitive genre.
Immediately after a very dramatic prelude, the song “Märchenbilder” unleashes the goods with haunting female vocals surrounded by excellent orchestrations and a very dramatic and classical vibe. The use of the violin greatly adds to the overall atmosphere of the music, reminding us of the work of Pete Johansen of Tristania and The Sins of Thy Beloved fame. The band’s versatility is show in engaging tracks like “Tel'aran'rhiod” and “Awaken”, were the band combines dramatic string instruments with plenty of different vocal styles.
After gaining quite a boost on outside of Taiwan popularity with “Takasago Army”, Chthonic returns with another very intense and equally interesting release. With “Bú-Tik” the band continues with their very thematic lyrical context and their majestic music that mixes Melodic/Symphonic Black/Death Metal elements with lush arrangements and authentic instrumentation. Proving that their last album was not a fluke, “Bú-Tik” continues with their musical intensity, and delivers ten tracks of top-notch quality.
The album opens with the very dramatic “Arising Armament”, a lush instrumental intro with a very tense vibe. The band’s musical magic continues with the powerful “Supreme Pain for the Tyrant”, a very aggressive yet atmospheric and catchy track. The vocals of Freddy Lim are impressive, and add that extra level of intensity to the music. “Sail into the Sunset’s Fire” keeps things rolling with blistering drumming and excellent riffing, a highly underrated skill from the band if you ask us. Featuring some excellent solos, this track is one of the best of the album.