Nightwish & Olzen through…

 From Nightwish official website http://nightwish.com/en/

Press statement

Another chapter of the Nightwish story has ended today. Nightwish and Anette Olzon have decided to part company, in mutual understanding, for the good of all parties involved.

In recent times it has become increasingly obvious that the direction and the needs of the band were in conflict, and this has led to a division from which we cannot recover.

Nightwish has no intention of cancelling any upcoming shows, and as a result we have decided to bring in a substitute vocalist starting in Seattle 1.10.2012. Her name is Floor Jansen from The Netherlands (ex-After Forever, ReVamp), and she has graciously stepped in to help us complete the Imaginaerum world tour.We are all strongly committed to this journey, this vehicle of spirit, and we are sure that this will lead to a brighter future for everyone.

We forever remain excited about the adventures to come, and we are extremely proud of the two beautiful albums and the wonderful shows we shared together.

– NIGHTWISH & Anette Olzon

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Nightwish – Imaginaerum

 Four years is a long time between albums unless your name is Def Leppard and you have a drummer that was in a bad car wreck costing him an arm so that he had to relearn how to play his drums with only one hand. Now there is Nightwish to add to the list.
     Don’t get me wrong, Imagenaerum is a fantastic release that shows the versatility of Toumas Holopainen‘s songwriting abilities and he wears his influences on his sleeve rather than underlying within the music’s background.
     Like many Nightwish fans, I too pine for the days of Oceanborn, inasmuch that I wish there was just more metal to the album in the form of guitar leads, runs, and fills… But damnit, that the songs on Imaginaerum are very good and guitarist Emppu Vuorinen admits that after the extended touring that came with the release of Dark Passion Play he was so burnt-out with playing his instrument that he did not touch it for any reason for months, hence, there is good reason that lead guitar work is minimal in the extreme on Imaginaerum.

     The video for Storytime introduced what the album would sound like and yes, it is evolved from Dark Passion Play. There is a darkness to the songs but because of how the album reads it is more in the vein of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas / Corpse Bride than the standard Gothic melancholy. There is a reason for the darkness and it can be playful itself. That it comes off like a children’s movie should not surprise any fans of the band.

     So what is painstakingly different about Imaginaerum from Dark Passion Play? What makes the album shine and stand out? Tarja fans close your eyes. Anette Olzon makes this album work. If you don’t believe me give it a few spins.
     Anette‘s voice and how she uses it per song, sometimes squealing like, sometimes normal (or abnormal), sometimes with mock accent, Anette is the stand out performer.
     I don’t know that the songs were written more geared toward Anette’s voice but her voice fits comfortably to the songs. There is a song where, at first listen, it sounds like Marco Hietala singing but it turns out to be Anette. Huh? Who knew? Maybe that the turmoil of the early days of Nightwish is finished and that Anette‘s trial by fire (so to speak) is also over with, she has found her niche in the band and for those that still don’t believe, again, give this album a few listens and you too will decide that she has a very versatile, bluesy, soulful vocal range that goes well with Nightwish‘s music. 
 A kind of concept album much like Iron Maiden‘s Somewhere In Time was, every song dealt with the same subject: Time. Imagenaerum’s concept is loose and not storylike either yet you can tell that the songs tie together to form an entire. That the songs also stand well on their own (you don’t have to listen to the album from start to finish to get the meaning) is different than say Avantasia‘s Metal Opera‘s where coming into the album in the very middle can leave you wondering what the hell it means.

Track listing for Imaginaerum:
01: Taikatalvi
02: Storytime
03: Ghost River
04: Slow, Love, Slow
05: I Want My Tears Back
06: Scaretale
07: Arabesque
08: Turn Loose The Meramaids
09: Rest Calm
10: The Crow, The Owl, And The Dove
11: Last Ride Of The Day
12: Song Of Myself
13: Imagenaerum

     Pine for the days of Oceanborn, yes, yes, yes, we all do. The blog for the Oceanborn album has always been the most popular article on my site here and I do wish for a complete PowerMetal release from Nightwish again but this album is just so cool and there will be a movie that ties into it too, double down on the cool factor, aye?
     Like Within Temptation‘s Black Symphony, where does Nightwish go after this? WT went to a more hard rock sounding album, but c’mon, how could they top the performance of Black Symphony but by not trying to. As well, Imaginaerum is a pinnacle that could be easily repeated because it is so infectious. And just how much more symphony does ToumasMetal have within it? He is definitely a Maestro in this modern world of ours that leads us all back to childhood remembrances and makes us lonely for the days of childish innocence where everything was a wonder and nothing was short of amazing.
     As with every Nightwish release, I simply enjoy it and the pathways it takes me down. Imaginaerum put a smile on my face and this band, sans certain orginal members, still makes magic.

Kamelot – Karma

      As The Fourth Legacy, Kamelot’s fifth studio release – Karma, continued the trek into a realm of music that sounded majestic; from the symphonic sounds and music, to the lyrics; Karma is loaded with positive energy even when trying hard to not be.

     The album leadoff, Regalis Apertura, written by co-producer, Miro, and played by him using the keyboard, sums the album up before even hearing the whole album. It begins like a Hollywood epic blockbuster before moving into a sound you could imagine hearing in a castle bazar while a juggler walks backwards in front of you trying their damnedest to entertain you out of a few coins. Towards the end the sound gets darker before trailing of into stark oblivion. Yes, the album is like this. What is amazing is Miro did all this in less than two minutes. 

     I don’t know whether to deem this release introspective or speculative because the lyrics can seem dark and moody with Kahn‘s voice, yet they can also seem uplifting as well. It is a very tempered album and one can hope that Sascha Paeth was trying for this and it is not just a brilliant mistake. If it is a sound stumbled upon, the band and producers kept it for the release after Karma, Epica.
     Musically, Karma is a Metal/PowerMetal release with odd, almost unnoticable changing guitar rhythm (just listen to the playing!) and double bass kicking drums that gallop. Yes, there is some Iron Maiden influence here, however, Thomas Youngblood is the type of guitarist who plays for the sake of his music and does not tend to over or underdo his leads and fills – they are a part of the song and not the only thing you have been waiting to hear.
     Speaking of odd rhythm, the song Karma sounds as if a less accomplished vocalist would have considered it a nightmare to figure out the best way to perform it.

     Kamelot, the band, sounds sterile in the studio. Live, the songs shine bright with slightly different interpretations than what is given from the studio. I don’t mean the studion cuts are less than those performed by the band on stage, I have wondered though, if the band works the songs even after recording them to get the exact sound they were truly striving for.
     Unknown as this album may be, one listen to Karma will tell you why the band still plays a few of the songs live to this day. Forever is crowd-pleaser that audiences love to sing to. Karma (the song) is favored by the band and the short, but sweet, jazz vocal style in the middle comes across well. Elizabeth (about Countess Bathory) played live shows just how well Roy Khan can sing in whatever genre you can think of.  

Track listing for Karma:
01: Regalis Apertura
02: Forever
03: Wings Of Despair
04: The Spell
05: Don’t You Cry
06: Karma
07: The Light I Shine On You
08: Temples Of Gold
09: Across The Highlands
10: Elizabeth I: Mirror, Mirror
11: Elizabeth II: Requiem For The Innocent
12: Elizabeth III: Fall From Grace
13: Ne Pleure Pas*
14: Once And Future King**

     You know, I can’t think of any one song on Karma that I like less than the other. There are two mellow songs and Kahn’s vocal delivery on both is exquisite. Yeah… Karma is a very great album indeed.

* Is the song Don’t You Cry sang in the French language. It is on the U.S. release of Karma.

** Japanese bonus track.

Most of Kamelots bonus tracks can be found on the compilation Myth’s And Legends Of Kamelot.

\m/

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – The Christmas Trilogy / The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve

     As mentioned in the last Post for Savatage – Dead Winter Dead, the band, under the guidance of producer Paul O’Neill morphed into Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I say morphed because they didn’t change their name, Savatage released other albums later on, and TSO was not only Savatage although they remain the entities key players:
     Paul O’Neill – Producer/Composer/Lyricist
     Jon Oliva – Composer/Vocals
     Al Pitrelli – Composer/Guitar/Musical Director
     Johnny Lee Middleton – Bassist
     Chris Caffery – Guitars
     Jeff Plate – Drums

     Trans-Siberian Orchestra took off before their was even a Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Maybe it was denial by the general public but they just did not want to accept that the cool heavy rock sounding Christmas song was played by a band named Savatage. Regardless of names, the public loved the song: Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) and mainstream radio added it into their holiday play lists.

 
     Christmas Eve & Other Stories is the debut release from TSO.
     The album was a bestseller soley based on the song Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) and it received very positive reviews for its innovation and approach to Christmas holiday music.
    Not only were TSO writing new Christmas songs, they were reimagining old ones for instrumental pieces.

     The album begins with a storyline that you have to read (you don’t need to if you don’t want to follow the story the songs are telling and just want to relax and enjoy the music). I don’t want to get into the back story as it is long but you can find all the stories from the Christmas trilogy and the bands other releases here: http://trans-siberian.com/.
     Of course Christmas Eve in the title refers to that song but what is important is “& Other Stories” as many of the songs from beginning bring the listener to the importance of the the last story (the story within the story).
     Lets start.
     An angel is told by God to go down to the Earth on Christmas Eve to find out what good people have done in the name of the day; Christmas.
     yes, the angel discovers alot of music and holiday cheer but he also finds sadness and despair but even within those emotions he feels the dreams and hopes of the human spirit.
     Along his travels, the angel feels a prayer from a father whose child (daughter) is not home this holiday season. The story never says why she is not home, why she is wandering the streets of New York City; only that the father does not know what has driven a divide between he and his daughter.
     Through celestial manipulation, the angel brings the only person nearby the girl to help her. He is also a workaholic who cares about nothing but his business and profits. The girl gets home to her father who rejoices that she is home.
     Realize that this is a condensed retelling of the story of The Pordigal Son without all the sinful details but it also speaks of the human condition and if it seems a bit far-fetched; it really isn’t. I know. 
     The stories end with the angel returning to Heaven and giving what he found to God. Within the last song, after the angel is back, Kyrie plays. A fitting end to an innovative album.

Tacklisting for Christmas Eve & Other Stories:
01: An Angel Came Down
02: O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night (instrumental)
03: A Star To Follow
04: First Snow (instrumental)
05: The Silent Nutcracker (instrumental)
06: A Mad Russians Christmas (instrumental)
07: The Prince Of Peace
08: Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (instrumental)
09: Good King Joy
10: Ornament
11: The First Noel (instrumental)
12: Old City Bar
13: Promises To Keep
14: This Christmas Day
15: An Angel Returned
       Post Script
16: O Holy Night
17: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman
        On Special Releases
18: Whoville Medley (Perfect Christmas Night/Grinch)

      Trans-Siberian Orchestra‘s second release, The Christmas Attic, again tells the story of an angel sent to earth, but this time he is to leave one thing that will benefit mankind.

     It’s never that simple with TSO. They relish in stories within stories within…

     This one differs in that a young girl is on the brink of losing childhood innocence. Seems that other children at school have instilled doubt in her about whether Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) is real or not.
     She cannot ask her parents as she has been told they are part of the entire Christmas conspiracy. So, like any child, she decides to wait up for Santa to make his appearance in the one room closest to the roof where he lands his sleigh – the attic.

     While in the attic, the angel gets her to notice an old storage chest and the magic is released.
     It doesn’t really hold magic but it does hold something just as powerful; mementos and memories that with the right amount of childhood innocence and imagination become magical.

     As with the first album, this release too has its sad moments. Although there is not as many instrumental pieces as the first release; it is the sadness in some of the stories that makes this album so poignant.

     Trans-Siberian Orchestra can be accused of Aesopian storytelling. Every album focuses on moralistic points (even their non-Christmas themed releases). Forgiveness, hope, that it is never too late, innocence over jaded viewpoints, and cherishing life no matter what kind of life you have. This release gives homage to the innocence of children. Not very Metal? They’re doing what they want and that is very Metal.

     The Christmas Attic garnered another huge hit for TSOChristmas Canon. It is Pachelbel‘s Canon in Dmajor redone with a children’s choir for vocals. It is also the third bestselling digital Christmas song. Another version done with guitars, sans children’s choir, appears on a late release. I know a lot of people who, having heard TSO‘s version on The Christmas Attic, have used for their wedding song.

     All being said, The Christmas Attic is, like its predecessor, Christmas Eve & Other Stories, a mostly light and airy release. It is a Christmas album.

track listing for The Christmas Attic:
01: The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve
02: Boughs Of Holly (instrumental)
03: The World That She Sees
04: The World That He Sees*
05: Midnight, Christmas Eve (instrumental)
06: The March Of The Kings/Hark, The Herald Angels Sing (instrumental)
07: The Three Kings And I (What Really Happened)
08: Christmas Canon
09: Joy/ Angel’s We Have Heard On High
10: Find Our Way Home
11: Appalachian Snowfall (instrumental)
12: The Music Box
13: The Snow Came Down
14: Christmas In The Air
15: Dream Child (A Christmas Dream)
16: An Angel’s Share
17: Music Box Blues

     I remember reading a review for The Christmas Attic in which the author wrote that there is nothing new on the release, nothing different from Christmas Eve & Other Stories. I wonder how much of the music the writer actually listened to? Yes, the music is along the lines of Christmas Eve & Other Stories, but songs like The Music Box, Dream Child, An Angel’s Share, Christmas Canon, Music Box Blues, The Three Kings And I… There was no songs like them on the first release.

* released only on later versions of the album.

     For all those who pined for a more serious release. A more symphonic release (as if the other two releases were not symphonic enough), this is it.
     I will note that it is, at times, melancholy, but very introspective.

     As the story continues…

     Again the angel is sent to Earth on a quest by God. This trip he has to bring him the name of the person that best continues the work of his son on Earth.
     Aside from the daunting task, the angel can only use his power of flight twice. Once to descend and again to return to Heaven.

     Okay, this album has its light and airy moments but for the most part it is dealing with heavy issues. Emotions permeate many of the songs, and many can be deemed on the Gothic side.
     First off, take the cover. See the guitar in the snow globe? Homage to Criss Oliva, original guitarist for Savatage, brother to Jon Oliva, whose life was ended by a drunk driver? Maybe. It is who I thought of upon first seeing the cover.
     And then there is the music.
     From the start there is a melancholic feel to it. Like the second album, The Christmas Attic, this release, too, deals with ghosts and spirits, though more depth is used, in turn making the songs longer, a bit more progressive, less Rock sounding and more Metal.
     Don’t let the mood stop you from listening to this release. Christmas, and holidays in general, are not only times of happiness. There are many people who suffer through them with memories of once good times but now, because life gives you what it gives you and rarely what you want and plan for, holidays mean remembering what is now lost or gone in their life, or their failures.
     But like TSO does, they take you to those memories and let you know that it is never too late in your life to turn things around.

     The instumentals on this album are ridiculously excellent. Unlike the first two releases, the instrumental faire here is based on classic music from the Classical and Baroque periods.
     The story inside the story is extremely sad and at times can make you angry at how selfish human beings can be. But again, it is a retelling of another story,  A Christmas Carol, a story of a stained and tarnished life and the redemption of the spirit. Does it happen? Can a selfish, egotistical, holier-than-thou- SOB change? I don’t know, but TSO makes you believe that with the right amount of magic and timing, because timing is everything, a person can change who and how they are in a night.

     This album clocks in at over 66 minutes of music. Some songs are short and can lead the listener to wonder why they even included them at all, but in the end they have their place. They are not intro’s. Nor are they interlude’s. Imagine what New York City may be like at Christmas and you can imagine hearing a brass band or bells chiming a tune in the distance. Ambience.

Track Listing for The Lost Christmas Eve:
01: Faith Noel (instrumental)
02: The Lost Christmas Eve
03: Christmas Dreams
04: Wizards In Winter (instrumental)
05: Remember
06: Anno Domine
07: Christams Concerto (instrumental)
08: Queen Of The Winter Night (instrumental)
09: Christmas Nights In Blue
10: Christmas Jazz (instrumental)
11: Christmas Jam
12: Siberian Sleigh Ride (instrumental)
13: What Is Christmas?
14: For The Sake Of Our Brother
15: The Wisdom Of Snow (instrumental)
16: Wish Liszt (Toy Shop Madness) (instrumental)
17: Back To Reason, Part 2
18: Christmas Bells, Carousels, & Time (instrumental)
19: What Child Is This?
20: O’ Come All Ye Faithful (instrumental)
21: Christmas Canon Rock
22: Different Wings
23: Midnight Clear

 
 

 
     This is not a live performance DVD. Neither does it tell the stories from either of the first two albums, Christmas Eve & Other Stories and The Christmas Attic. It is a stand alone story written especially for this DVD release that uses songs from both the first two CD releases.

     The story is about a young girl who runs away from home, to get out of the cold she breaks into an old theater. As is Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s way, the theater is filled with mementos and memories, ghosts and spirits who, with the help of an elderly caretaker, work to turn the girl’s life around.

     The DVD is short and may leave you wondering why they made it other than that they could, but it also shows the timelessness of the songs and that they can inspire in many different scenerios.
     Of note, the elderly caretaker is played by the late Ossie Davis, who, for some odd reason, you can imagine him hanging out in an old run down theater…Creepy.
     Jewel and Michael Crawford make guest appearances.

Track Listing For The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve:
01: O’ Come All Ye Faithful/O’ Holy Night
02: Good King Joy
03: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
04: Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)
05: Christmas Canon
06: O’ Holy Night
07: Music Box Blues
08: Promises To Keep
09: This Christmas Day
10: First Snow

     I don’t believe that at the time of this release TSO had even toured yet. Yeah, I think they had only played one live show by this time.
     Having seen Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform live a few times, I can say that they put on one hell of a show. If you get the chance to see them, please remember this, it is a Christmas holiday event geared toward families. I went with my young son, Blade, and the guy sitting nearby us was inhebriated, stank like a brewery, kept spilling his alcohol, and cursed as if he was at a local dive-bar. What an ass!

     Well, that’s it.  

METAL!
\m/

Savatage – Dead Winter Dead

     Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have heard it all, theory after misinformed theory about what band started SymphonicMetal. Wikipedia, whoever uploaded that information, you’re full of shit! Facebook, ditto! I just love how people are eager to espouse misinformation because they have heard Nightwish or Therion.

     Back in 1987, Savatage, a band from Tampa, Florida, along with a visionary producer named Paul O’Neill recorded an album titled: Hall Of The Mountain King and SymphonicMetal was birthed, another bastard child of Metal. It was not entirely an original idea as SymphonicRock had been done (not Tommy by The Who either). But Savatage wasn’t just adding symphonic elements for texture, the elements were an integral part of the songs.

     Dead Winter Dead is the second album by Savatage after the death of Chris Oliva in a car collision with a drunk driver and the first to feature Al Pitrelli on guitars. Zach Stephens is still on vocals but there are appearances by original vocalist and founder Jon Oliva.
    
Is this an Opera? Mmm…Maybe, in a way. Not like Avantasia: The Metal Opera I & II are.
     Dead Winter Dead tells the story of war torn Sarajevo from various viewpoints; a gargoyle, an elderly cellist, an arms dealer, regular everyday neighbors, and a male and female soldier from opposing sides.
     The story begins at the collapse of the Soviet Union, when many countries found themselves no longer under ruling by Russia. 
    
AND A WIND CAME ACROSS EUROPE
THAT WOULD TWIST AND TURN OUR FATE
FOR AS WELL AS BRINGING FREEDOM
IT HAD LET LOOSE MEN OF HATE

NOW THESE MEN WERE FEW IN NUMBER
AND THE PEOPLE THREW THEM OUT
BUT IN THE MIND OF EACH MAN’S NEIGHBOR
THEY HAD PLANTED SEEDS OF DOUBT”

     Speculation it may be but there is truth to it as well.
     Though the above are not lyrics; it is the story from Dead Winter Dead written in verse form much like the SymphonicMetal band that Savatage would morph into after this album.

     What makes Dead Winter Dead stand out from many of the bands previous releases is the emotion conveyed throughout the entire album. All parts come together beautifully and you can find yourself lost in Bosnia’s turmoil; feeling the emotions conveyed through the music. Yes, it really is that damn good.

     If you have never heard or heard of Savatage, give Dead Winter Dead the chance it deserves. After all, the album contains the one song that started Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
     The musicianship and storyline/lyrics are above caliber and if you follow Savatage throughout their entire career – from a Metal band to PowerMetal, to ProgMetal, to SymphonicMetal until TSO you can understand how they could become Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Track listing for Dead Winter Dead:
01: Overture
02: Sarajevo
03: This Is The Time (1990)
04: I Am
05: Starlight
06: Doesn’t Matter Anyway
07: This Isn’t What We Meant
08: Mozart And Madness
09: Memory
10: Dead Winter Dead
11: One Child
12: Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)
13: Not What You See

     I say little about this album because it one of my favorite SymphonicMetal albums and because it is damn near 3:00AM and I just got off work and did a two hour workout at the gym.

     I have not been online for a bit (see above about work) plus my connection blows major ass. And, I have been walking and daydreaming. Such is what I do when left to my own device.

Kamelot – Epica

     As of late, I have been way too busy, but summer is winding down here in the Rocky Mountains (why is it still in the upper nineties?) so blogging will become more active.
     One good thing about being busy is background noise. I have been listening to alot of Anthrax, Sepultura, Kamelot, Hammerfall, Blind Guardian, Rhapsody Of Fire… Old shit, new shit – Metal!

     Studio albums from Kamelot tend to have an overproduced feel to them. Most times, while listening to them, I knitpick the sound and wonder why it does not move me like their live recordings. The music is not bad, it is just not live and Kamelot is a live band.
     Bands put out an album and then tour to support it, but, it is almost as if Kamelot put out an album to support their upcoming tour. Whatever it may be, Kamelot is one hell of a band to see live and many of my favorite songs by the band are not those that they perform while on stage.

     Epica is the beginning of something while being the end of another. I do think the title is heavily self-prophesying for the band.

     Epica is the beginning of the band’s retelling of Goethe’s Faust. The main character, Ariel, is on a quest to find the meaning of it all. He leaves his beloved, Helena, and travels in search for an answer. Ariel eventually becomes disillusioned when his search becomes long and fruitless.
     Enter Mephisto, AKA – the devil, who tempts Ariel with dreams of power. Needless to say, Ariel eventually accepts.
     Helena, whom Ariel left behind, has been searching for Ariel and eventually the two run into each other. They spend time together but Ariel‘s old drive to find the meaning to everything resurfaces and he again leaves Helena. Distraught that her love has once again left her, Helena takes her own life by drowning herslf in a river.
     Ariel is driven even after he learns of Helena‘s suicide and the death of their unborn child (neither knew she was pregnant).
     Mephisto continues to chide Ariel and push him on despite the high price he has paid for his obsession. Meanwhile Helena‘s soul sings to him of love but Ariel believes himself to be damned and cries out against God as being the cause of his troubles.
     That’s the story in a nutshell.

     There is another beginning here though. A band by the name of Sahara Dust was in a studio recording their debut album and had been listening to Kamelot’s Epica. Inspired by the music they asked Kamelot if they could use the name Epica as their band name. Hence, Epica was born.

     Epica, musically, is close to the bands previous releases, Siége Perilous, The Fourth Legacy, and Karma. It has a very majestic PowerMetal sound though the lyrics deal with a dark and melencholic story. There are a few more mellow songs to carry the changing mood of the story but much of the album has a speedier pace.
     Vocally, Roy Kahn is, as always, damn good. Again, the studio performance of Roy and the band just does not compare to what they do live. No one could ever accuse this band of lip-syncing.

     As for Epica being the end of something, it was. On their release after Epica, The Black Halo (which completes the retelling of Goethe’s Faust), Kamelot took a darker approach to writing their music. Some have accused them of becoming more Gothic in sound. The music has remained along the PowerMetal vein but it has become moodier. The change in musical direction has not lessened their ability to write excellent songs as, sometimes, a change in musical style could just mean they tune their instruments differently or their personal lives have a bit of strife in them and it is carrying over to the music – something musicians tend to allow to happen.

Track Listing For Epica*:
01: Prologue
02: Center Of The Universe
03: Farewell
04: Interlude I – Opiate Soul
05: The Edge Of Paradise
06: Wander
07: Interlude II – Omen
08: Descent Of The Archangel
09: Interlude III – At The Banquet
10: A Feast For The Vain
11: On The Coldest Winter Night
12: Lost & Damned
13: Helena’s Theme
14: Interlude IV – Dawn
15: The Mourning After (Carry On)
16: III Ways To Epica

     Epica is a solid PowerMetal release from a band that is so much better and talented than many out there. What is funny is the theme of the album would so go over with many people in the world today; struggles with questions about God, Life, feelings of aimlessness, letdown… If only more people were aware of this band regularly.

* Limited Edition version contains the song Snow while the Japanese version contains the song Like The Shadows

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