Dear Norway (Kongeriket Norge, Kongeriket Noreg),

     Whatever Gods may listen, Norway, I have begged them to shine benevolently down upon your shores and bring calm and peace to your people.

     I know this is just another music blog but I felt I needed to say what is in my heart since the devastating events that took place a few days ago. 

     I am a huge fan of many Norwegian bands, vocalists, and just regular people I have met who were tourists in the U.S.
     Many of the people I know and am friends with happen to be of Norwegian descent too, and they espouse what an awsome place their ancestral homeland is.

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ReVamp

     When After Forever called it quits in 2009, after not having released any recordings since 2007, I knew that the members would resurface in other bands, it was eventual.

     ReVamp is comprised of vocalist, Floor Jansen (After Forever), keyboardist, Joost van den Broek (After Forever, Expedition Delta, Sphere Of Souls, Star One, and Sun Caged), guitarist, bassist, and notable  music producer Waldemar Sorychta (Grip, Inc., Voodoo Cult, Eyes Of Eden), and drummer, Koen Herfst.

     Having followed After Forever I also followed what the ex-band members were doing since closing the door on After Forever and moving on. I have Kiske/Somerville which Sander Gommans plays guitar on and I heard of ReVamp since Floor Jansen released the bands existance on her MySpace site. And Like Kiske/Somerville, my frequent music store, Budget CD’s, here in Missoula, ordered the CD for me without my having to ask them to because they knew I would interested in the band simply because I revel in all the old After Forever releases.
     I have had the CD since August of 2010 but have not reviewed it thus far because I wanted to get through After Forever releases before moving on to individual member releases. In the same way I did Nightwish and then started on Tarja‘s solo releases.
     Alas, a message on Poetry, Melodies, & Metal; left by a reader of the blog; that he hopes I review this album. And, that some of my posts are turning up ver-batim on other blogs around the world (thankfully giving the name of the blog and my internet call, zhadowlord, as the author), and, well, I really admire Floor Jansen‘s vocal ability, which, on this album shines.

     If you do not own this album then I will say that without listening to the music, by just opening the inlay card and looking through it, you can easily tell from the pictures alone that this is one eclectic album. Don’t worry about that though; After Forever changed their style with each release yet you loved them all. In ReVamp, Floor kind of does the same thing with each song.
     The album openers intro starts off sounding heavily influnced by Slayer (not as brutal) before toning down to a more SymphonicMetal sound and the singing starts – Floor sounds really close to Tarja Turunen in the beginning. You know, Floor has such excellent control of her voice that listening to this album, I could imagine her doing many different styles of music with no problem; be they classical or 1960’s hippie-folk music. You could not say that about many vocalists.

     The music, like Midnattsol‘s album Nordly‘s, reminds me of something I have heard but can’t quite put a finger on where I heard it before. Influences abound everywhere on this album. From Classical to Industrial without being kitch, ReVamp takes their influences and defines their own sound from the cacophony – it’s nice when musicians are confident and rounded enough to dare this; it has backfired on some who sound too close to another band.

Tracklisting for ReVamp:
01: Here’s My Hell*
02: Head Up High
03: Sweet Curse**
04: Million
05: In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part 1: All Goodbyes Are Said
06: Break
07: In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part 2: Disdain***
08: In Sickness ‘Till Death Do Us Part 3: Disgraced
09: Kill Me With Silence
10: Fast Forward
11: The Trial Of Monsters
12: Under My Skin
13: I Lost Myself
14: No Honey For The Damned

* George Oosthoek (ex-Orphanage) lends vocals and growls to this song.
** Russell Allen (Symphony X) sings with Floor here.
***Bjorn Strid (Soilwork) growls here.

     Overall, this is a good album with many different musical and vocal naunces. Assuming Floor is leading ReVamp; this band will only get tighter and explore different forms of music by incorporating into their own style, much like Floor‘s own sense of style and appearance.  

     Here is another review, but only of Sweet Silence, Russell Allen‘s duet with Floorhttp://songdynamics.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/sweet-curse-revamp/]Revamp–Sweet Curse

Anthrax – Among The Living

     Out of the “Big 4” bands, Anthrax seems the least popular. I mean, they haven’t sold the amount of albums that Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer have, they don’t sell out massive arenas around the world… But they are one of the most influential ThrashMetal bands, bar none.

     Among The Living was released in 1987 and Anthrax spawned a movement with it. Their mix of serious, socially conscious, and humerous lyrics with a form of ThrashMetal that was heavily dosed with the same attitude, sarcasm, and cynicism of many other New York bands and leaden with excessive amount of rhythm, bass, and louder than all get out drumming; Anthrax pulled no punches, told it like they saw it, and dominated even the stage of veteran rock band KISS whom Anthrax supported in an opening slot while touring in support of their E.P., I’m The Man.

     Just how influential was Anthrax? Ever been to a show and went into the MoshPit? Yeah, that’s Anthrax‘s influence there and it came about with this album, Among The Living. A classic release and must have for any who think they are true fans of Metal in all its forms.
     HeadBanging is a staple at live Metal shows and at ThrashMetal shows the crowd could and can get so unruly and pressed up against the stage that movement is immpossible but for pushing and swaying. Couple this movement with HeadBanging, crowd surfing, stage diving, and SlamDancing and it, from the stage, looks like a huge mess of bodies and flailing limbs. A huge mess of people Caught In A Mosh; although the song refers to anything that dissolves into complete and utter chaos, like when the best thought out plans go awry – it’s not pretty. Fellow ThrashMetal band, Exodus, refered to it as the ToxicWaltz, but the moniker did not roll off the tongue like MOSH does. Since the release of Among The Living, the crowd centered directly in front of the stage are Moshing and the area itself is known as the MoshPit.
     The other “Big 4” bands might have influenced other musicians but Anthrax‘s influence affected millions of Metal fans worldwide and that affect is still going strong three generations later.

     What makes Anthrax and their music different from the other “Big 4” is they are the only one not from the WestCoast. Centered on the EastCoast, their sound was influenced by early PunkRock and the music was very bass and rhythm guitar oriented, their productions were clear; you could here every instrument in the mix. Oh, they also had a vocalist who actually sang rather than screamed the lyrics.

      As of late, Anthrax has welcomed vocalist Joey Belladonna back into the fold after a very successful reunion tour with him and guitarist Dan Spitz (though Dan chose not to rejoin the band for a new album). I for one am anticipating the new release, titled Worship Music.

Track Listing for Among The Living:
01: Among The Living*
02: Caught In A Mosh
03: I Am The Law**
04: Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)***
05: A Skeleton In The Closet****
06: Indians
07: One World
08: A.D.I./Horror Of It All*****
09: Imitation Of Life

* Based on the Stephen King character Randall Flagg from his book The Stand.
** Based on the comic character Judge Dredd.
*** Based on deceased comedian John Belushi.
**** Based on Stephen King short story Summer Of Corruption: Apt Pupil from his book Different Seasons.
***** A.D.I. stands for Arabian Douchebag Intro. Dan Spitz is of Arabic heratige and it is his lead guitar playing that begins the song.

Avantasia – The Metal Opera Pt. II

     Out of the two Metal Opera releases by Avantasia, Part II starts off strong and continues throughout. I can understand the shakiness of the first album; you’re trying to get a story started and ideas are racing around your head, the excitement of the moment. Whereas Part I was built around story, Part II finds Avantasia more relaxed and knowing which direction they are trying to take this thing musically. In other words, the music becomes a central part to the vocals and lyrics.
     The inlay card of Part I had the story entire (well, almost). It reads like a first draft but again, the lyrics might be what a character is thinking or a part left out in the written story. Part II has no story written out for you. Instead it is just music and lyrics.

     Part II begins with the nearly fifteen minute long epic, The Seven Angels. If one needed to be introduced to Avantasia and/or Tobias Sammat, this is the song to do it with in my opinion. It has a bit of everything in it. Choir vocals, majestic symphonic sounds, booming drums, shredding guitar leads, melodic guitar leads (Timmo Tolki is off the fuckin’ chain), ambiant whispers, a piano solo (a bridge actually), eight seperate lead vocalists, and one hell of a catchy chorus.
     Like The Seven Angel’s, the music continues in a more PowerMetal vein with only three slower songs (Tobias seems to like to temper the PowerMetal with PowerBallads. He does this in Edguy‘s releases too).
     Tobias is joined on a couple songs by fellow Edguydian (I think I just made up a word!) Jens Ludwig, whose guitar lead on The Final Sacrifice is dirty and powerful and fits nicely with David Defeis‘ very Metal vocal delivery.

     The lineup is close to the same as on The Metal Opera Pt. I with a few exceptions:
Eric Singer – (Kiss, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper) drums on Into The Unknown
Tobias Sammat – (Edguy) Bass on Into The Unknown
Jens Ludwig (Edguy) Guitars on The Final Sacrifice and Memory
Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius, ex-Revolution Renaissance, Symfonia) lead guitar on The seven Angels (2nd lead break) and Into The Unknown 
Michael Kiske – (ex-Helloween, ex-Place Vendome, Unisonic
) is no longer known only as “Ernie” but uses his real name.

Track listing for The Metal Opera Pt. II:
01: The Seven Angels
02: No Return
03: The Looking Glass
04: In Quest For
05: The Final Sacrifice
06: Neverland
07: Anywhere
08: Chalice Of Agony
09: Memory
10: Into The Unknown

     Together the albums make up an epic, fantastical story that mixes fantasy with reality. Avantasia has released three albums since The Metal Opera‘s and all are great, but, vision-wise, the original releases are nothing short of musical magic.
     There have been two small tours by the band The Scarecrow World Tour (The Scarecrow trilogy) in 2008 and The Metal Opera Comes To Town Tour 2010, however, none of the releases have been done in their entirety.

     Right after this release, Edguy released Hellfire Club. The opening song on Hellfire Club, titled Mysteria, has lyrics that are reminiscent of Avantasia‘s Metal Opera storyline. The song has always seemed to me to have been written for Avantasia but some of the lyrics got in the way.