All 20 entries tagged Metal

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July 31, 2006

Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory

It took me a long time to warm to Dream Theater, their use of crazy time signatures and unusual scales and keys means that it takes a while to train your ears to understand the music. Dream Theater is best classified as progressive metal being that they're highly technical and heavier than the well–known prog bands of old – Pink Floyd and Genesis to name a couple.

At first listen, you'd assume Dream Theater is just about mindless shredding at ridiculous speeds to show off technical skill. This impression is enforced by the aforementioned use of difficult scales. But you slowly come to realise that the heavier and faster parts brilliantly complement the slower parts and work well to set the mood.

Metropolis Pt 2 is an album sequel to a single song on the band's Images and Words album, and is simply fantastic. You have to read the lyrics to really understand what's going on as the singer plays the roles of a number of characters. The album follows the story of "Nicholas" who is haunted by the memories of "Victoria" and his attempts to find out why. The first track begins with Nicholas undergoing hypnosis and the rest of the album slowly reveals the truth, the real twist only comes in the last 2 minutes of the last track (itself being 12 minutes long and one of the best on the album).

I'd argue that this is one of the greatest albums ever, the concept is well executed, the skill of the band as a whole is arguably unsurpassed. John Petrucci's guitar and Jordan Rudess' keyboards are in a league of their own, Petrucci himself proving with some particularly emotional solos that he's more than a guitar–playing machine.

There are a few songs on this album that do have immediate appeal, "The Spirit Carries On" is a beautiful spiritual ballad that makes excellent use of a gospel choir as well as contributing to the story of the album.

Unless you already like progressive music, it's almost certain you won't like this album at first, but give it time and see if it warms on you.


February 22, 2006

Sabaton = Pretty Darn Metal

Music front cover
Title:
Primo Victoria
Artist:
Sabaton
ASIN:
B00077CYIW
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

To be honest, I only bother reviewing the albums I actually like so that's why they always get good scores. Reviewing bad albums would be more professional I guess but it would require enduring them for longer than I need to.

Anywho, first heard of Sabaton a few weeks ago when I found out they were supporting DragonForce. Downloaded the song "Primo Victoria" from their site and concluded that it was pretty darn awesome. Rousing power metal about World War 2. Consists of deep growly vocals (which I normally don't rate that highly) that manage to be significantly more tuneful and melodic than the average mainstream band (to be honest i'm loving the fact that metal has become more accessible to fans of pop music than indieschmindie is). The vocals are supported by your typical layered power metal guitars and occasionally keyboards with thunderous rhythm. Guitar solos are tasteful and relatively short so don't detract from the largely vocal-driven music.

The majority of the album is about war but it's in the same kind of vein as the typical power metal theme of journeys across mountains and slaying demons and being generally heroic. The title track is clearly one of the strongest but the rest are pretty good too, other highlights include "Purple Hearts" and "Wolfpack". However, the true highlight of the album is the final track titled "Metal Heart". Here's the description of the song from the album booklet:

In 2004 a Swedish heavy metal band called "Sabaton" stole the history of metal and refused to return it.
The allied metal bands of the world sought to recapture the content of their lyrics but to no avail.
Sabaton was way too sneaky and hid it in the coppermines deep below the metal capital of the world, Falun.

Basically, this song steals lyrics from various well-known metal songs and fuses them together into possibly the best song on the album. Cheeky. Songs I spotted include "Paranoid", "Crazy Train", "Breaking The Law", "Fear Of The Dark" – i'm sure there are many others.

This album is what power metal is about. Cheesy, Powerful, Melodic, Rousing, Arrogant and Brilliant.

PS. If you've ever played the Metal Slug games, this album should be the soundtrack.


November 25, 2005

Replica X, Hostile and Power Quest

Tonight I tagged along to Birmingham with Replica X and their bandsoc posse to see them support Power Quest. I've only actually seen Replica X play live a few times and had some Power Quest samples on my computer so thought it was probably worth checking them out.

The venue wasn't large, there weren't really many people there at all, and with Replica X up first they drew the smallest crowd. I think everyone was suprised at just how good this uni band sounded, i've heard them before and was suprised, they sound tighter and more confident each time I see them.

Hostile were the other supporting band, i'm not too hot on my metal classifications but they sounded fairly death metalish, but fear not – they seemed to be really cool people too, not the homicidal maniacs some people associate metal with. I wasn't too keen on their sound, they had great mastery of their instruments but didn't produce enough in the way of melody for my tastes. Their main guitarist seems to position his hands in a similar way to how I do when I play so maybe i'm not doing things completely wrong afterall – always good to know.

Power Quest were last being the headline act and put on an energetic and enthusiastic show but they felt lacking, they didn't play the only song i'd heard before so I couldn't tell if it was just a poor live performance (the mixing seemed a bit too in favour of the guitarist rather than the singer or keyboardist) but it was fairly disappointing.

Whilst attempting to be objective as possible, Replica X were probably the best-sounding band of the night and hopefully they'll stick together long enough to really make a name for themselves.


November 09, 2005

Andy's Top 10 Songs In No Particular Order #8 – Last Drop Falls

Nothing is over until the Last Drop Falls

Running out of numbers here, picking a top 10 is really hard, there will be so many incredible songs that get missed out.

Sonata Arctica - Last Drop Falls
Apparantly this one was done live a lot before Reckoning Night was released (and caused Shamandalie to become the new angst-ballad of choice). It would have been awesome to see this song live, maybe I'll still get to one day, but for now i'll have to settle for the live recording on Songs of Silence. Not going to bother explaining the song, the meaning isn't particularly hidden behind hundreds of metaphors, but it's a fairly beautiful fusion of soft verses and a heavy chorus.

Lyrics

When i'm looking in your eyes
Everything seems to fade away
After all these years we had, do I know you now?
Have I trusted blindly in your love, too many times?

You said "hey, my love, I'm sorry but we can't go on 'cause
I'm in love with someone else"
Tell me, what do you want me to say
When you treat me this way

Oh I love you, maybe
And I hope it goes away
Oh, how I want you daily
I know it's gonna stay

You are so self-satisfied
Always ready for a ride
Double crossing, lousy cheat, love you anyway
You have warm and tender devils soul, you are so low

I can hear you say: "I'm sorry, should we still go on,
I'm not in love with that someone else"
Tell me, what do you want me to say
When you treat me this way

Oh I love you, maybe?
And I hope it goes away
Oh, how I want you daily

Tell me now that…
I have found the whore in you
Why can't I tell you "no"
Time will show, the last word is for me
If you fail to see the problem we have, one room full of walls
Jar of love isn't dry until the last drop falls

The moment I will step aside, you're ready for another ride
Walking in the cool night air without underwear
You have red light burning in your soul, I've seen the glow

In every dream I have I say "I'm not in love with you"
But every day I say I do
You have messed with my head so many times
Forced me to love you

Now that…
I have found the whore in you
Why can't I tell you "no"
Time will show, the last word is for me
If you fail to see the problem we have, one room full of walls
I will try until the last drop falls…


September 22, 2005

Andy's Top 10 Songs In No Particular Order #7 – Valley Of The Damned

Huzzah! Part 7! This is the song that everyone knows the band by, mainly because it's so utterly insanely amazing

DragonForce - Valley Of The Damned
If you haven't heard this song before, you haven't heard one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time, fact. From the word go this song screams epic with a brilliant opening riff that has you immediately air-guitaring. It's good that this is effectively the opening track on their debut album because it makes you realise that despite the gloomy song title this band is anything but gloomy. They are fast, cheesy, fun, powerful and above all incredibly melodic. Very few bands can pull off 3 minutes of guitar shredding that actually sounds good. The vocal harmonies after the shred-fest are pretty damned awesome too. Listen to it. Love it.

Lyrics

On a cold dark winter night hidden by the stormy light
A battle rages for the right for what will become
In the valley of the damned a warrior with sword in hand
Travels fast across the land for freedom he rides

And the sign from the master on high screams aloud and across hear the cry
For the kingdom of fire and ice and the power to be alive
Be strong ride on, carry on through the war
Come along carry on, living for ever more

On the wings of death by the hands of doom
By the darkest light from the darkest moon
Crossing silent seas over mountains high
For we stand as one tonight

On the black wind forever we ride on together
Destroying your evil with freedom our guide
When the master will storm us
He'll stand high before us
Our hearts filled with splendour
Our swords will shine over the light

In the valley of the damned
Days breaks with golden strand
Over pastures green it glows
To where night returns

In the shadows faces appear
Warriors wearing full metal gear
All join together one and all
Before the glorious light

Rise up, gather around
Come and hear what is said
Use your senses open your mind
Don't you ever forget

On the wings of life, by the hands of hope
By the brightest light from the brightest sun
Crossing silent seas over mountains high
To the valley of the damned

On the black wind forever we ride on together
Destroying your evil with freedom our guide
When the master will storm us
He'll stand high before us
Our hearts filled with splendour
Our swords will shine over the light

On the black wind forever we ride on together
Destroying your evil with freedom our guide
When the master will storm us
He'll stand high before us
Our hearts filled with splendour
Our swords will shine over the light

The black wind forever we ride on together
Destroying your evil with freedom our guide
When the master will storm us
He'll stand high before us
Our hearts filled with splendour
Our swords will shine over the light

The black…


September 16, 2005

Stratovarius returns

Music front cover
Title:
Stratovarius: Limited Edition
Artist:
Stratovarius
ASIN:
B0009Y8N06
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Stratovarius are credited with making Finnish metal popular, it's likely that without them the likes of Sonata Arctica and Nightwish wouldn't be the same. Over the last couple of years the band basically imploded with the singer (Timo Kotipelto) being kicked out of the band by the guitarist (Timo Tolkki), them getting a new female singer, then Timo Tolkki had some severe depression things and the band looked dead. Then magic happened with Timo and Timo making up and now the band which also features an amazing keyboard player (Jens Johansson – this guy is incredible) is back together and have produced a self-titled album.

Woosh.

The album loosely follows the story of the band over the past couple of years (the track order is a big clue) and appears to show a new direction for the band. The sound is now fuller and better produced and the new direction makes it possible to compete with Sonata Arctica and Nightwish who have overtaken them in popularity.

This isn't an album where every song is a masterpiece, but they all fit together and there are a few songs that rate amongst their best (Fight!!! The Land Of Ice And Snow, United) and if this is a true indication of their musical direction they might be in for a big comeback. There's a good mix of heavy, weird, mellow and uplifting tracks so there should be something that appeals to most people.


September 10, 2005

Awesome Power Ballads You Probably Haven't Heard

I love power ballads, I also love heavy metal, how conflicting, oh well… here are some power ballads you probably haven't heard:

Alice Cooper – Hell Is Living Without You
At Vance – Lost In Your Love
Edguy – Forever
Edguy – Roses To No One
Europe – I'll Cry For You (Acoustic Version)
Europe – Open Your Heart
Iced Earth – Blessed Are You
Nightwish – Ever Dream
Sonata Arctica – Last Drop Falls
Sonata Arctica – Letter to Dana
Sonata Arctica – My Selene
Sonata Arctica – Shamandalie
Sonata Arctica – Shy
Sonata Arctica – Tallulah
Sonata Arctica – The Misery
Stratovarius – Coming Home


September 05, 2005

Andy's Top 10 Songs In No Particular Order #6 – Dawn Over A New World

The legendary top 10 list returns for it's 6th part, winnar'd. This probably isn't the best song by the band, but it's one I can listen to on repeat all day and still love it.

DragonForce - Dawn Over A New World

This band is so gloriously cheesy, we're not talking Top B cheesy here, we're talking outrageously over-the-top and fantastical lyrics. Coupled with the fact that their two lead guitarists can play guitar better than you (given a couple more years I might be able to nail one of their solos, well this one isn't too bad – I can play most of it). This song is pretty Bon Jovi-esque, but mainly in the guitar playing, this is to be expected as one of the guitarists lists Richie Sambora as an influence. If this song was about love it would be one of the all-time great power ballads, but it's not about love, it's about gloriously cheesy stuff. I love this song, like all the truly great songs it has a key change for the final choruses.

Lyrics

In the darkness of the night in the shadows of the dawn
It's turning black no looking back the sands of time are sown
When the day will slowly end and the sun has turned to grey
Will we feel the power of freedom with the dawn of a new day?

Over mountains paved with gold to the valleys of the slain
Our quest will lead us onwards to the journey of the brave
When the time has come to stand for the power we believe
We will ring the sound of victory for one and all to see

Sometimes in your darkest dreams you will feel the haunting prayer
Silent tears of your hidden fears come to haunt you once again
Fight on for the memories of the everlasting dreams
Their pain in the silent lands on wings of glory free

We can go on forever with the darkness so far away
And the warriors who live forever fight on to the end

Across the highest mountains and through the endless seas
Our journey ever onwards fight until we all be free
Through the darkness shining the neverending light
On through the days of glory rise towards the fight

And one day we will find a way towards this distant golden age
The cries of war will sound the day
We stand before the dawn of a new world

On through the raging thunder across the seven seas
Cold winter skies are falling on the battles we have seen

We can go on forever with the darkness so far away
And the warriors who live forever fight on to the end

Across the highest mountains and through the endless seas
Our journey ever onwards fight until we all be free
Through the darkness shining the neverending light
On through the days of glory rise towards the fight

And one day we will find a way towards this distant golden age
The cries of war will sound the day
We stand before the dawn of a new world
We stand before the dawn of a new world…


July 25, 2005

ohmygodohmygodohmygod

Thirteenth Day was incredible

Season's End – My train was late so I missed them, but apparantly they weren't very good

Intense – Quite heavy but grew on me due to some cool choruses

Dragonland – Fast and pretty good, but they have a fairly muddy sound, talented musicians though. The singer can hit some incredibly high notes.

Epica – Basically they're kinda like Nightwish, so they have a very hot female singer and a good orchestral sound. Were very good though.

Finntroll – These guys are heavy, wasn't sure if i'd like them, but then it just got crazy bouncy fun, they're some weird bouncy polka heavy metal… thing. Great fun. The lead singer does look kind of like a troll.

Norther – Everyone was saying how good they were, but they just sounded like Children of Bodom but without the melody and catchy riffs. Didn't like them at all.

Sonata Arctica – Absolutely amazing, they just seemed to be enjoying themselves so much and they had the crowd going from the start. The singer didn't back out of singing the high notes on the song he notoriously hates singing live, sounded better than on their live album. Here's the uber-amazing setlist (order may be inaccurate):

  • Misplaced
  • Blinded No More
  • (Some song that isn't on any of their albums that I didn't recognise)
  • Victoria's Secret
  • Broken
  • My Land (the song with the notorious high notes)
  • Black Sheep
  • Don't Say A Word
  • Replica
  • 8th Commandment
  • Shamandalie
  • The Cage (awesome song to finish on)

Only bad thing was that their set was cut short because the roadies took ages to set things up.


June 06, 2005

Andy's Top 10 Songs In No Particular Order #5 – The Misery

Been a while, easy choice though.

Sonata Arctica - The Misery

Rarely has one song made me decide to buy an entire album, this song did though. It's a ballad (not a power ballad, just a ballad) and Sonata Arctica do ballads very well. The vocals are soft and melodic and considering the song isn't based on any particular events in the band members' lives (or so i'm led to believe) it also sound exceptionally emotional. The instrumental melody is mostly simple arpeggiated chord shapes on guitar, this isn't a technical song at all. There is a simple lead guitar line towards the end that is well-placed and fits the song perfectly. Beautiful song.

Lyrics

I write the lines you want me to, with the words I dare to use of all
the ones that you have taught me, along the years

You cast a perfect shadow on the paper, fade away with sunlight, I fear
the way you know me, love can leave a stain…

You steal my only hope and make me stay awake another night,I wish you
bear with me, stay near me
When the Autumn leaves have fallen
Solitude, my pain, the last thing left of me…

If you fall IŽll catch, if you love IŽll love, and so it goes, my dear,
donŽt be scared,
youŽll be safe,this I swear. If you only love me back

Seven lonely lies written on DeadwinterŽs night, open the only book with
the only poem I can read
In blood I sign my name and seal the midnight with a tear, burn the
paper, every line for them I cried…

If you fall IŽll catch, if you love IŽll love, and so it goes, my dear,
donŽt be scared,
youŽll be safe, this I swear. If you only love me back

I am the Playwrite and you are my Crown, make me cry for your love, like
youŽve done many times, so I know
I canŽt write these storylines without you, Lady pain, make me strong,
canŽt we be together without them forever…

The words I write can only hurt you, sorry for the rain, thank you, my
only one, you gave me this pain
I leave you gently on the floor, take one step towards the door,
whereŽs the letter never written, goodnight now…

If you fall IŽll catch, if you love IŽll love, and so it goes, my dear,
donŽt be scared,
youŽll be safe, this I swear. If you only love me back

If you fall IŽll catch, if you love IŽll love, and so it goes, my dear,
donŽt be scared,
youŽll be safe, this I swear. If you only love me back


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