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Fotis P. (Greece)

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Sovran
Sovran
Price: £10.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful, 30 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Sovran (Audio CD)
Sovran marks the return of Draconian after four years and it is the first release with the new vocalist Heike Langhans. Since Lisa Johansson was a big part of Draconian's sound and one of the most emotional and expressive vocalists in the scene (thank you for everything Lisa!), let me reassure you from the start that luckily the transition to the new era feels very smooth and will not disappoint anyone. Heike sounds like a worthy successor and her voice fits perfectly to the music. Not only she possesses a very beautiful and sweet tone (sometimes reminiscent of Sharon Den Adel) but she also manages to capture the deep emotions that Draconian's music and lyrics call for. She convincingly conveys melancholy, sadness and despair (but also brightness) and makes a good pair with Anders who as always offers an impressive performance. In fact, the vocal lines throughout the album are hauntingly beautiful and memorable and the interplay between the two singers is great. All songs are very well-written and the performance of the band is remarkable and very tight. It is actually the great work of the guitarists Johan and Daniel that elevate the music to such a high level. From heavy doom riffs, to sweet harmonies or gothic-metal oriented leads, the outcome is fantastic. They provide the basis for great compositions. No song is less than six minutes (apart from the bonus track) and yet all of them feel much shorter due to their undeniable quality, the emotions they evoke and the surprises they include (there are some really astonishing parts in there).
Overall, this is a stunning effort from Draconian and a perfect companion for autumn and for the long winter that lies ahead. What are you waiting for?

Note: The balladesque "Rivers Between Us" features a guest appearance from Daniel Änghede (Crippled Black Phoenix) whose clean vocals add even more diversity to the album.


Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Digibook)
Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Digibook)
Price: £9.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A celebration of music, a celebration of life!, 30 Mar. 2015
Nightwish have always been the cream of the crop in the symphonic metal world. This has to do with their consistently impressive outputs which possess great quality, reflect a unique identity and have also led to an increasing commercial success through the years. Hence, every other band belonging to the same genre is judged in relation to them (either by fans or by the music press). Of course they deserve it as they have worked very hard and have always managed to create beautiful music which can be symphonic/bombastic, heavy, grand/epic, cinematic, dreamy/soft and so on (not to mention the deep and poetic lyrics). Despite the volatile periods they have experienced with the change of their female singers, the inspiration is always there and the very essence of the band is unaltered (cheers Tuomas). It seems that this will not change with "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" (EFMB) which features two new permanent members, the new (and third) vocalist Floor Jansen and Troy Donockley (Uillean pipes, low whistles). Also, the well respected Kai Hahto from the amazing Wintersun is temporary filling in for drummer Jukka Nevalainen (please, do yourselves a favour and buy "Time I"...).
In order to answer as many questions as possible, I will summarise the new album as follows:

Vocals: Everyone knows that Floor is a highly gifted vocalist with unlimited potential from the days of After Forever (e.g., check "Decipher" if you haven't done so). She can use an operatic voice, a sweet voice, a powerful rock voice and she can even growl! The important thing is that she can perform greatly also in a live setting both in terms of her vocals and her stage presence. The latest live DVD from Nightwish can prove this: she interpreted songs both from the Tarja and the Anette days with great success and confidence. In that respect, she is a huge asset for Nightwish. She has the skills and the experience. Indeed, her talents really shine on EFMB and her vocal lines are really impressive. Despite the expectation of many people for Nightwish to bring back the operatic vocals in full force however, this is not the case on EFMB. Of course they appear on some instances and when they do, they are superb. The overall approach focuses more on the lower sweet vocals of Floor or on her powerful voice. But when you listen to the record you will realise that she has used so many different approaches that will leave you speechless. It is just that the band felt that the operatic approach is not required as much here. On the other hand, Marco is utilised less in this record but when he appears the impact is immense! Of course he also backs up some refrains or melodies throughout. The album also features a few spoken parts from the evolutionary biologist and writer Richard Dawkins.

Music: This record focuses more on the band effort but without sacrificing the huge and epic orchestral sounds from the London Orchestra and the metro voices (again, Pip Williams has offered wonderful orchestral arrangements). This element is just not so pronounced as in "Imaginaerum" for example. Additionally, you will get a feeling that all periods of Nightwish are echoed in the new album.
The opener "Shudder Before the Beautiful" is really a strong contender for a new live favourite as it offers heavy riffing, a superb vocal performance from Floor, a very catchy chorus, bombastic orchestral sounds/choirs and even a keyboard and a guitar solo like in the old days. It opens with a brief spoken part from Dawkins.
The second song "Weak Fantasy" is a heavy tune with strong vocals and with Marco complementing Floor with his energetic side! It builds up in a very cool way.
"Elan", the first single of the album, was received with some criticism last month but I believe it was a very good choice for a single. It is very catchy, mid-tempo and relatively simple. The sweet voice of Floor overall and the chorus are really addictive in this one. Also, it features very nice pipes from Troy who gives this extra Celtic element.
"Yours is an Empty Hope" that follows is probably the heaviest song on the album and definitely a very impressive one. Heavy guitars in the vein of Dark Chest of Wonders/Master Passion Greed, bombastic orchestral arrangements/choirs and really strong vocals from Floor and Marco. Overall it is heavy and very memorable as well (and you will love the middle part before the final attack!).
"Our Decades in the Sun" is the ballad of the album in a way and Floor shines in this emotional track. Nice build up as well.
"My Walden" is the Celtic/folk track of EFMB in the spirit of "Last of The Wilds" or "I Want My Tears Back". Very catchy and melodic, great vocals, chorus, and impressive work from Troy's pipes (who even sings a bit at the beginning). The ending is also cool. Looking forward to hearing it live.
"Endless Forms Most Beautiful" is a bit faster paced, with heavy rhythmic guitars, catchy chorus (almost AOR) and a hint of operatic Floor in the beginning.
"Edema Ruh" is a very melodic and radio-friendly track which gives Floor the opportunity to showcase a softer approach where she again impresses.
"Alpenglow" is a great track with an infectious melody and refrain. Great vocal lines, keyboards, guitars, orchestra...It will be stuck in your head upon some listens.
The tenth track "The Eyes of Sharbat Gula" is a beautiful and dreamy instrumental inspired by the famous picture of the Afghan girl (cover of the June 1985 issue of National Geographic).
Finally, the epic album closer "The Greatest Show on Earth" is probably the most ambitious song from Nightwish. It clocks at 23:58 minutes so as you can understand you have to experience it! It certainly does not fall short of expectations. Nightwish throw here everything they have in their arsenal. It starts with a great piano theme from Tuomas and slowly builds up with: clear operatic vocals from Floor, bombastic arrangements, huge orchestra and choirs, heavy guitars, cool pipes, amazing vocal lines (back and forth with Marco), mood changes, sounds from the animal kingdom and some spoken parts from Dawkins (not as many as in the "Song of Myself", don't worry!). This is really an outstanding track, a celebration of music and a celebration of life (see lyrics)!

Overall, EFMB should be appreciated for what it is. A great album with plenty of rare and high quality music that will keep you company for many years to come. If it is better or worse than "Oceanborn" or "Once", should not be a major concern. We need artists with vision and great aspirations in this time and age and they need our support. Once again, thank you Nightwish!


Shadows Of The Dying Sun
Shadows Of The Dying Sun

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another beautiful journey..., 28 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So Insomnium's 6th album is finally here. Actually, this is not just another album but rather a beautiful journey full of emotions that will offer you a great companion either when travelling or when you are at home. 'Shadows Of The Dying Sun' is with no doubt another great addition to Insomnium's back catalogue. The band has been steadily growing through the years and since day one the music always maintained an amazing quality in every aspect. The previous album 'One For Sorrow' was a masterpiece in my opinion but thankfully Insomnium have managed to produce another album which is on par in terms of quality (if not better).

I will refrain from providing a detailed description of each song (you can find plenty detailed reviews on the web) but I would like to stress that the music of the whole album is just beautiful. All new songs are excellent and the atmosphere these Finns create is just amazing - this is pure art! The production is top-notch as well and enhances the value of this studio offering.

As you would expect, melancholy meets aggression in a perfect balance; The guitar work from the founding member Ville Friman and the new member Markus Vanhala (also in Omnium Gatherum) is great throughout: there are really good riffs, sweet melodies, acoustic passages, and beautiful solos - keyboards are also used effectively. This time there are more parts with clean vocals (courtesy of Ville Friman) which add to the atmosphere and successfully support a nice melody. For instance, this approach is more prominent in the song 'Lose to Night' which has an excellent and really infectious chorus. Of course the harsh vocals have always been excellent and very expressive in Insomnium and Niilo Sevänen (vocals/bass) has once more done an excellent job - definitely one of the best guys in the scene and really fitting in his dual role. A special mention should be made to the drummer Markus Hirvonen whose playing is the backbone of each song and adopts an even more technical approach in this album (you will even hear some blast beats!). Finally, to complete the perfect puzzle, the lyrics are very deep and dark as always and complement the music perfectly.

Insomnium is not a typical band in the melodic death metal scene and as long as they manage to create this unique and eloquent atmosphere which combines melancholy and heaviness, they will always deserve to be in the top of their league. From the bottom of my heart, kiitos for the new album guys! Hopefully, see you on tour!

PS1 I would suggest the limited 2CD digipack edition with the extra tracks (1 new song plus 3 tracks which originally appeared on the 'Ephemeral' e.p. (or if you can pay something extra the Casket edition which can be ordered from the band's website and includes the digipack, a t-shirt, a textile flag, a signed post card and a patch).

PS2 Check also: Dark Tranquillity, Before the Dawn, Omnium Gatherum, Amorphis, Wolfheart, Ghost Brigade, Swallow the Sun, Noumena, Amon Amarth, Bel'akor, Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Black Sun Aeon, Dawn of Solace.


Imaginaerum
Imaginaerum
Price: £9.50

47 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you have imagin(a)ed and possibly more..., 5 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Imaginaerum (Audio CD)
Imaginaerum is the highly anticipated seventh studio album from Nightwish and the second with singer Anette Olzon. So four years have passed since Dark Passion Play and of particular interest is the fact that this time the band returns with an album and a movie which will be released in 2012. The movie is based on the album and not the other way around. It sounds ambitious, doesn't it? But let's move on to the music part.

A first thing that can be noted is that this is definitely their most diverse effort to date. It feels like Tuomas tries to combine all his influences and link them in the best possible way. And without a doubt, he succeeds! Also, Anette sounds more confident and shows a lot of diversity herself. Of course every member is perfect in their role. No need to mention that, once again, the band works with the famous London Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir group Metro Voices. Both arranged and directed by Pip Williams, give the great extra element and lead to impressive results.

Nightwish never really had an intro in previous albums but the first song is exactly that. Completely sang by Marco in Finnish, `Taikatalvi' is a beautiful acoustic song which serves as a very good introduction to the journey that follows.

`Storytime' which follows is the first single of the album and this is an obvious choice. It is very uplifting, with a very catchy melody and chorus. However, it also includes a full orchestra and the symphonic element is not missing. A very good song indeed.

`Ghost river', is a very heavy and rhythmic song. It offers an intriguing duet between Anette and a powerful and darker Marco. The children's choir in the end blends perfectly and adds to the whole atmosphere.

`Slow, love, slow' is a very surprising song with a lounge-bar jazz feeling. It is different for Nightwish but has a unique atmosphere and builds up nicely allowing Anette to perform really well.

`I want my tears back' is a great song that will be stuck in your head. It is uplifting, with folk/Celtic influences (e.g., `Last of the wilds') and a fantastic duet between Marco and Anette. The Celtic pipe melodies are also fantastic. By the way, I liked her approach in the first verses: more towards an angelic Sharon den Adel type of vocals. And Marco is always the familiar loveable Marco!

`Scaretale' is a rollercoaster! The sound is very cinematic and blends the classic symphonic sound of Nightwish with a circus/rollercoaster atmosphere. Heavy riffing and a few crazy surprises are included.

`Arabesque' is a remarkable instrumental piece with Middle Eastern influences. This is a very soundtrack-like song, with the orchestra leading the way and blending perfectly with the choir and huge percussion parts.

`Turn loose the mermaids' is an amazing and beautiful acoustic (Celtic influenced) ballad. In this inspirational song Anette really shines. The violin solo in the end is also astonishing!

`Rest calm' is a mid-tempo, very heavy and atmospheric song. Once again there is great orchestration, choir and...Marco! Anette sounds very good also. The heavy couplet/soft refrain structure works well. I got hooked to the ending as well!

`The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove' is another beautiful ballad (written mainly by Marco) with great melody and one of the most successful duets between Marco and Anette.

And now let's talk about `Last ride of the day'...Wow! This is Nightwish in 4:32 min! One word: Epic! This is one of my favourites so far. Huge choirs, orchestra, heavy guitars and an amazing and uplifting chorus (Gary Moore's `Over the hills and far away' style). Both singers excel in this one!

And after this excitement, there is the `big' song of the album: The 13:37 min epic called `Song of Myself' inspired by the poet Walt Whitman. What can I say? An epic, symphonic and heavy masterpiece! Massive orchestra and choirs blend with very heavy guitars and double bass drums. Anette sounds great and very confident in this one. The band overall sounds very tight in this great song. The song concludes with about 6 minutes of spoken words (a heartfelt poem written by Tuomas) from various actors I guess. Sweet piano and a poignant atmosphere...

The album closes with `Imaginaerum' which is purely an orchestral piece comprised of parts from all songs.

There is no doubt that Nightwish is one of the best bands of our time and in this new era of their history they managed to maintain the old quality and produce another masterpiece. Thank you Mr Holopainen (&co). You are truly one of a kind!

P.S. The double digipack edition includes the instrumental versions of all songs and a poster.


The Beginning Of Time (limited edition)
The Beginning Of Time (limited edition)
Price: £26.97

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consistent and on top of their game!, 30 May 2011
Two years after the brilliant release of "Skyforger", Amorphis is finally back with a new album. And what an album this is! I don't want to sound like a fan-boy but the beauty and quality of the music that these guys create is undeniable.

Although a logical step and in the same spirit of "Skyforger", "The Beginning of Times" is by no chance a repetition as it has a lot of new things to offer. Tomi Joutsen sounds as confident as ever and performs with great emotion and power. The growls appear a bit more often on this album and sometimes you get the feeling of "Skyforger" intersecting with the bands' back catalogue (the album "Elegy" could be an example). Also, for the first time we get a more extensive use of female vocals (backing up a nice melody or a refrain, perfectly complementing Tomi's vocals).

All songs are very memorable, heavy and melodic, catchy but deep. As always, there are excellent intros, heavy riffs, amazing melodies and great solos (with the distinct sweet sound of Esa Holopainen), beautiful piano parts, acoustic guitars, etc. It is certainly a majestic album which marks a new beginning for the band!

Overall, I would say that the album is slightly heavier compared to "Skyforger" without lacking the catchiness, the quality and the inspiration. There are thousands of good bands out there but very few have their own distinctive sound and personality. This is what makes Amorphis an amazing band and not just an ordinary good band. Definitely in my top 3 of 2011!

PS1 Of course the digipack version includes a nice bonus track (13 tracks overall!)
PS2 How did they do it again?


Surtur Rising
Surtur Rising
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: £11.71

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amon Amarth keeps rising!, 28 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Surtur Rising (Audio CD)
Well...any album that has "War of the Gods" as an opener is simply destined to be a masterpiece! From now on, I can imagine their concerts opening with this new instant classic! From the very first second the beast is unleashed: a great riff leads to a thundering double-bass attack and an in-your face approach. The bridge of the song is followed by an amazing epic melody and refrain; and if this is not enough, you also get a great middle part with more great riffs until the final solo (which is just spot on)! Sheer brilliance! Memorable, compact, and very effective! Amon Amarth just shouts we are still here, strong as ever, inspired and inspiring and we deliver the goods! "Töck's Taunt - Loke's Treachery Part II" that follows is a heavy and more mid-tempo song with a melancholic atmosphere. "Destroyer of the Universe" is a track which justifies its title. Fast, heavy, and aggressive (again there is great riffing throughout). "Slaves of Fear" is another great song with a very good riff and overall progression (nice melodies, refrain, solo etc.). The same goes for "Live without Regrets".

These guys have really perfected their composition skills. They have found their own formula and stick to it. Without repeating themselves, they always come up with 2-3 amazing riffs, an epic and brilliant melody, put them together and end up with a perfect song each time! I will not mention every member individually because each one is the unique element which comprises a perfect team. Technical, effective and massively talented!

"The Last Stand of Frej" starts at a slow pace and with a very nice melody which you can sing along. It includes an `Amon Amarth meets Sabbath' part, it has a very melodic solo and it ends with a great riff and guitar work. "For Victory or Death" is another favourite of mine. This song will be great in a live atmosphere! The memorable melody at the start is soon followed by a thundering attack: an amazing riff, a double bass fast-paced blast, great drumming and again a nice chorus. You just want to sing along loud and bang your head to this song! Did I mention the solo which is a perfect fit? "Wrath of the Norsemen" is a more mid-tempo song which is really heavy (Amon Amarth meets Sabbath and Metallica)! Of course the sheer epicness is again present and accompanied by some straight heavy metal solos.

"A Beast am I" is a monstrous song indeed. This is one of the fastest and most furious songs Amon Amarth has ever written. A war-like fast-drum beat, together with great and aggressive riffing, unleash the beast one more time! I am sure this one will create chaos in their concerts! I guess this is why the last part of the song is in essence an acoustic interlude with really nice melodic guitars on top: to restore order and balance if things got out of control! The last song "Doom over Dead Man" starts off in a much slower and melodic way. The surprise of this song is the inclusion of strings which accompany the band in an experiment which I think works beautifully. As the song builds up you get a really good guitar work and all the elements you would expect from Amon Amarth.

I cannot say if this album is better than the previous two masterpieces from the band (it is early for that although I have listened to it tens of times already) but it is certainly at the same level and definitely one of the most prominent candidates for the metal album of 2011! These Vikings are hard working, inspired, and consistent and they deserve every success they can get! The main question is how they will continue at this level from now on...

Finally, as always is the case with Amon Amarth releases, you can find various editions for the album. I would suggest getting the nicely presented hard digi-book version which includes a bonus DVD. The DVD offers the live concerts of the first 4 albums which Amon Amarth played in 2008 (the 4 re-issues of these albums include the corresponding audio versions). If you go for the more expensive option, there is a box set with includes an action figure of Surtur, the aforementioned DVD and two bonus tracks: "Balls to the Wall" (Accept cover) and "War Machine" (Kiss cover). Only for i-tunes, there is a cover from System of a Down (Aerials).


Design Your Universe
Design Your Universe

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claiming the throne of symphonic metal (again)!, 15 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Design Your Universe (Audio CD)
After the previous masterpiece under the title "The Divine Conspiracy" I was really anxious (and sceptic) about what Epica could offer next. Don't forget that Epica's main composer, Mark Jansen, has been sharing his vision and writing abilities since the glorious days of After Forever (R.I.P.) (remember Prison of Desire & Decipher anyone?). However, there is no need to worry! Mark Jansen & Co are a reliable and massively talented band and have a lot more to offer. This new brilliant album just proves that and shows how hard the band has been constantly working through the years. Honestly, "Design Your Universe" has so many things one can enjoy!

The album is epic and bombastic with amazing melodies, huge choirs, impressively tight rhythm section and on top of that it is complemented by the heavenly voice of Simone Simons (if anyone still has doubts just listen to her voice shining in the superb ballad "Tides of Time"). Even the grunts are generally better in this album. Also, I am sure that having two ex-God Dethroned members in guitars and drums has given much more flexibility in the writing process and added more value to the technical proficiency of the band's music. This explains the existence of more solos, progressive elements and many thundering double-bass parts that make you want to start learning drums yourself (yes, AriŽn van Weesenbeek is that good!). I mean there are riffs and crushing songs that even the mighty Amon Amarth will wish they had written. For instance, you can hear that in one of my personal favourites "Martyr of the Free Word" (and oh my god, what a heavenly Gregorian chant comes in out of the blue in 2:45!!). "Our Destiny" is another great song with catchy melodies and blends Simone`s vocals with the choir so nicely in the end! The big epic song of the album is called "Kingdom of Heaven" and clocks at 13:35 (no comment on that!). Songs like "Unleashed" (for which they made a video), "Burn to a Cinder" or "Deconstruct" bring to mind After Forever at their best. Interestingly, in "White Waters" we can enjoy a nice duet between Tony Kakko (from Sonata Arctica) and Simone. The (over 9 minutes) title track closes the album with massive symphonic sounds and great choirs. If this is not enough for you, the limited edition offers a bonus track and of course a very nice packaging.

Overall, Epica's new album is an adventurous journey for the listener: grand, epic, cinematic, highly symphonic, emotional and very heavy. Only a few symphonic metal bands (I don't really approve the term female-fronted) can claim that they have these attributes and maintain the high quality in their compositions combined with the strong vocals which this genre requires (for whom the bell tolls?). Once again, well done Epica!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2009 6:31 PM GMT


Skyforger (Ltd)
Skyforger (Ltd)
Price: £19.21

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Amorphis, what did you expect?, 18 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Skyforger (Ltd) (Audio CD)
In my opinion, this is the best metal album of 2009 so far. Amorphis have created another masterpiece full of beauty and amazing melodies. The whole album is highly enjoyable, catchy and very profound at the same time. Tomi Joutsen`s vocal performance is superb and fits the music and poetic lyrics perfectly: mostly focused on the clean territory, it is very melodic, deep and emotional in every song. On the other hand, when he decides to growl he sounds very powerful. Of course nothing would matter if the music itself wasn't that good! Amorphis create really unique and wonderful music, distinguishing themselves from the rest. The album offers various moods; there are great guitar melodies, keyboards, progressive elements, folk elements, gothic overtones, heavy riffs and a solid rhythm section. Your collection will be much richer if you add Skyforger to it!

Note: there has been a small problem with the initial copies of the digipack version but their company seems to have sorted it by now.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2010 7:36 PM GMT


Turning Season Within
Turning Season Within
Price: £11.11

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of Gothic-Doom Metal, 4 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Turning Season Within (Audio CD)
Draconian is one of those bands that can never disappoint you.They really believe in what they are doing and their music comes from the heart.It is full of emotions and fits the deep and poetic lyrics perfectly. You will enjoy beautiful melodies,heavy riffs and dreamy keyboards.Lisa sings like an angel, Anders growls with passion and the narrative parts add to the whole atmosphere.I don`t know if they will ever hit the charts but until then, the ones who know can enjoy art in its purest form!Highly recommended!


Unreal
Unreal

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Fans of Finnish Atmospheric-Gothic Metal, 3 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Unreal (Audio CD)
End Of You do not try to reinvent the wheel but Unreal is a really well played album and very enjoyable to listen to.If you like bands like Entwine, To/Die/For, Charon and Him, this album is for you!


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