Nightwish / Decades

Decades

Nightwish is a symphonic metal band from KiteeFinland. The band was formed in 1996 by lead songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen, and former lead singer Tarja Turunen. The band soon picked up drummer Jukka Nevalainen, and then bassist Sami Vänskä after the release of their debut album, Angels Fall First (1997). In 2001, Vänskä was replaced by Marco Hietala, who also took over the male vocalist role previously filled by Holopainen or guest singers.

Although Nightwish have been prominent in their home country since Angels Fall First, they did not achieve worldwide fame until the release of the albums Oceanborn (1998), Wishmaster (2000) and Century Child (2002). Their 2004 album, Once, has sold more than one million copies and was the band’s breakthrough in the United States. Their biggest US hit single, “Wish I Had an Angel” (2004), received MTV airplay and was included on three US film soundtracks to promote their North American tour. The band produced three more singles and two music videos for Once, as well as a re-recording of “Sleeping Sun” for the “Best of Nightwish” compilation album, Highest Hopes (2005), before Turunen’s dismissal in October 2005. Her last performance with Nightwish was during a concert recorded for the live album/DVD End of an Era. After the concert, the other members informed Turunen with an open letter that she was no longer a member of Nightwish.

In May 2007, Nightwish announced Anette Olzon as Turunen’s replacement. That September, the band released their sixth album, Dark Passion Play, which has sold almost 2 million copies. The album’s lead single, “Amaranth“, became one of Nightwish’s most successful in Europe. The supporting tour, one of the band’s largest, started on October 6, 2007 and ended on September 19, 2009. The band released an EP/live album, Made in Hong Kong (And in Various Other Places), in March 2009 as a CD/DVD, and their seventh studio album, Imaginaerum, was released globally on various days in late 2011/early 2012.

On October 1, 2012, Nightwish announced that they had parted ways with Olzon and would be finishing the tour with ReVamp and former After Forever vocalist Floor JansenIn October 2013, Nightwish made Jansen and longtime session uillean pipes player Troy Donockley permanent members of the band, and they were featured in the acclaimed album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, released on March 27, 2015.

Nightwish is the third-best-selling band and musical entity in Finland with certified sales of nearly 900,000 certifiedcopies. The group is also the most successful Finnish band worldwide, selling more than 9 million records and receiving more than 60 gold and platinum awards, having released five Number 1 albums and thirteen Number 1 singles.

Decades is the seventh compilation album from Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, and contains remastered versions of the original material. It was released on March 9, 2018, which is the same day that they began touring for the Decades: World Tour.

The Analysis—-

The Greatest Show On Earth—-Wow….what can you really say about this epic piece of music? Please note that this ‘song’ clocks in at a whopping 24 minutes in length and plays like a modern day symphony piece. This has complete movements and moods….as the music takes you through a complete set of emotions. The strings and the urgent pace of the underlying music is just fantastic. The song truly plays like a movie soundtrack to me. The vocal that finally erupts at about 6 minutes is not as you would expect if you are a follower of the band…although it does clear and becomes much more clear and epic as it continues. The song…once you get to the meat of the damn thing is addictive as hell. The nice mix between the clean and the rougher vocals keeps your attention. This is epic-ally brilliant.

Elan—-With a brilliant and immediately recognizable intro, the flute that begins the entire thing is just perfect. There is a wonderful mix of metal and beauty all mixed in here together. You would never think such a thing would work…but it does…and brilliantly well. The vocal wraps around your head…while the music gives you a huge energetic boost. This is masterful.

My Walden—-With a huge almost pop inspired intro, the guitars sing in an upward arc that sucks your brain in from the first note. The music settle to allow for the vocal….and then comes right back at you as the chorus smacks your forehead and settles in for a day or so. This recipe works so well…..Tarja was brilliant…..and continues to be so.
Storytime—-Airy and wonderfully constructed, the keyboard ushers in guitars and drums that take the song to a faster and bit heavier sound. The music stays strong despite the entrance of the ‘pretty’ vocal…..the song still comes across as muscular and driving. The voice just soars with a melody of the chorus that is instantly devoured. the strings are incredible…perfectly mixed with huge guitars to create a curtain that you have never seen hanging before…..just brilliant.
I Want My Tears Back—-With Tuomas offering the entrance vocal, the music has a slight bagpipe sound to it that is accessible and addictive. Sometimes the vocal is almost too pretty…..suffering at time like Kate Bush did on some of her recordings. The chorus is huge…full of muscular crashes and guitars and more vocals from Tuomas. This is brilliant when they combine the voices…something I wish they did more often in the early days.
Amaranth—-What can I say about this track that I have not already said. It has had a long life…and still stands the test of time for me. The vocal is so strong and well delivered…matched perfectly with the aggression of the guitars. The combination that this band managed to develop is just remarkable. This is a track that will always be a favorite of mine…especially when the vocal switch happens and the tracks takes on an even more meal direction…this is magical.
The Poet And The Pendulum—-Seeming to meld from the previous track, this is epic in scope and length…..at over 13 minutes long. The track is layered and full of movements that lull you into a dreamy state as you find it easy to become one with the song. This is remarkably well done. I love the swells of the strings…the urgency of the music….the epic soundtrack feel to the symphonic feel. This is brilliance on a piece of plastic to enjoy forever. I love this band.
Nemo—-Another instantly recognizable tracks that will live for a very long time. The voice is like no other…delivered with beauty and practice….the ability to wrap itself around aggression but still remain beautiful is simply amazing. Even though there is all this stuff happening in the backdrop of the song….the voice literally rides on top of everything and remains true…crystal clear and full of beauty. What a band!
Wish I Had An Angel—-Perhaps the most ‘famous’ Nightwish song, this never gets old or sounds aged. I literally love this track to death. This was my introduction to the band and I have never stopped collecting them since then This strikes a chord with me. It combines beauty and power magically well….and still plays like it is brand new to me. A perfect blend of vocals with Tuomas adding in a rougher edge to the song….allows it to become huge. This is brilliant.
Ghost Love Score—-Brilliant in scope…a nice jaunty and masterful intro full of bright strings and swells……matched by a muscular guitar delivery creates a perfect storm. The song takes a nice turn…becoming a bit more metal before falling away for the almost too sweet vocal. But the chorus…a band effort….escalates the song to new highs again. This is fabulous.
Slaying The Dreamer—-Much more Metal right at the onset, this is big and a bit boisterous for this entity. The vocal is even lacking that pretty edge…sounding a bit more aggressive and driving. This is fantastic….the moods come and go…..but you never lose the urgency of the song. This is really nice…I love the great guitars. Tuomas makes this a great freakin track
End Of All Hope—-Beginning like a huge epic symphony movement of voices and sounds, the guitars enter and turn the track into a literal masterpiece. Again, sometimes the voice is almost too pretty for the huge and muscular delivery from the band…but somehow, they always manage to settle things out in the aftermath and deliver a masterpiece of a song. This is a well oiled machine that never seems to fail.
10th Man Down—-Creaking ship sounds and atmosphere take you right into the heart of the song. The music builds slowly…giving you a sense of anticipation….and the entire thing becomes the rhythmic Metal kind of thing. I don’t really care for the vocal here….but it is passable. The chorus vocal is almost drowned out by the aggressive music…perhaps a production misstep…..but still great none the less.
The Kingsslayer —-A nice return to the epic and huge Nightwish sound, the guitars are literally blazing on this joint. There is an urgency and speed to the music that is perfect for me. Even the vocal comes at you as if in an emergency situation. This is a huge song….delivered with perfection and emotion that keeps you on the edge of your seat with energy. Wonderful.
Dead Boy’s Poem—-I hate to say it…but I have to…..there is nothing about this track that inspires or moves me. I’m not really even sure why it is on here…this is not a shining moment for the band…in mu opinion….I remain unmoved.
Gethsemane—-Blazing back with this keyboard heavy track, there is a perfect combination between the keys and the guitars….with the vocal soaring over your head. Again…there is a nice urgency and muscularity to the song….it is full of driving riffs and excellent drums. a perfect storm once again blows from the homeland.
Devil & The Deep Dark Ocean—-Large in sound and filled with driving drums that are just incredible. The male vocal that begins the entire thing is in such sharp contrast that it puts me off a bit. I’m really not into the evil sound of the vocal…it puts me off a bit…sounds more like German Industrial than my beloved band.
Sacrament Of Wilderness—-Here we have a ice return to the more familiar……upfront keyboards and incredible drums…..a huge guitar line that drives the song to new heights…..a vocal that literally soars above your head….it all comes together to create an epic composition….and there I go….in love once again.
Sleeping Sun—-Beautifully constructed and moody, I love this. The vocal is so well delivered…filling you with epic emotions. there is a nice double tracking on the voice that gives the song an even more full bodied sound. This is really nice…..the swells of music suck you into a daze that allows you to daydream and catch every single word at the same time.
Elevenpath—-Beginning a bit dark and mysterious, the song becomes epic with huge guitars and barely a string or oboe to be heard. The vocal…delivered in a deeper tone is really nice…this plays like some huge fairy tale that takes place in the deep forest……oh those foreigners….lol.
The Carpenter—-This takes a bit to get used to…but settles into your brain with remarkable ease. The blend of voices add a new dimension to the song….the low male vocal sounds like an Alternative band from the 90’s…the the chorus hits and everything opens up….this is perfect.
Nightwish [Demo]—-For a demo, it is apparent the vision of the band and of Toumas was clear….because of course he is the true leader of the band without any doubt. the stripped down feel is very nice and leaves me only wanting even more new materail from the band. This has been an epic journey for me….I remain…truly in love with this band.
*****out of 5

Ministry / AmeriKKKant

AmeriKKKant

Ministry is an American industrial metal band, founded in 1981 by Al Jourgensen in Chicago, Illinois. Originally a synth-pop outfit, Ministry shifted its style to become one of the pioneers of industrial metal in the mid-to-late 1980s. The band’s lineup has gone through many changes throughout its history, with Jourgensen remaining the only constant as the band’s main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. Notable musicians who have contributed to the band’s studio or live activities include Paul BarkerMartin AtkinsBill RieflinChris ConnellyNivek OgreMike ScacciaRey WashamPaul RavenTommy VictorJason ChristopherTony CamposMonte PittmanBurton C. Bell and DJ Swamp.

Ministry found mainstream success in the late 1980s and early 1990s with three of their studio albums: The Land of Rape and Honey(1988), The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989) and Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992), with the former of the two certified gold and the latter certified platinum by the RIAA. The 1996 follow-up album, Filth Pig, was also critically acclaimed but did not repeat the success of its predecessors; the album did, however, earn Ministry its highest chart position on the Billboard 200, peaking at number nineteen. The band has been nominated for six Grammy Awards, and performed at several notable music festivals, including participating in the second annual Lollapalooza tour in 1992 and co-headlining Big Day Out in 1995.

Ministry was dissolved in 2008 after 27 years of recording and performing, and Jourgensen had since stated that they would never reunite. However, the band announced a reunion in August 2011, and has released three more studio albums since then: Relapse(2012), From Beer to Eternity (2013) and AmeriKKKant (2018).

AmeriKKKant is the fourteenth studio album by industrial metal band Ministry, which was released on March 9, 2018. It is their first release on Nuclear Blast, and marked the longest gap between studio albums in the group’s entire career; at five years, following From Beer to Eternity (2013). AmeriKKKant is also the first Ministry album without guitarist Mike Scaccia since The Last Sucker (2007); Scaccia died in 2012 but appeared posthumously on From Beer to Eternity.

The Analysis—-

I Know Words—-Would you expect anything less than a Trump sample to open this release…of course not. Al remains as outspoken and political as ever. This is a clear poke at the disaster presidency that America finds itself involved in. This is a bit sparse as far as instrumentation goes…..perhaps setting the mood for the onslaught to come. The vocal samples are wonderfully done and intermixed to form full radical sentences….Brilliant!

Twilight Zone—-With even more trump vocal samples, the music is a bit beefier here and filled with a bit more urgency. While noisy and erratic, this still lacks a bit of power for me. Al finally makes a vocal appearance….sounding less maniacal and a bit pushed to the back of the mix. This does have that nice genuine Industrial sound of days gone by…all in all…not to bad. The point is being made!

Victims Of A Clown—-Melding from the previous track seamlessly, this begins a bit sedate and with strains of Circus music…get the message? Clocking in at over 8 minutes, this takes a very long time to get started. Once the bass heavy music kicks in, the song takes a really nice shape. The lack of urgency on this release is very noticeable though….it used to be Al would rant solid for an entire hour on a release…this just seems a bit uninspired. The ‘chorus’ is nice and muscular….and tings get a bit damn noisy for a bit….like the old days.

Tv 5/4 Chan—-This brief 40 second interlude is a barrage of gunshots, TV sound bites and serves to usher in….

We’re Tired Of It—-This is more like what I have been waiting for on this release….a huge barrage of urgency….aggression and released energy set to a blistering pace. The vocal is louder and more up front….everything smacks you right in the face. The growls and yells are classic…I really needed this.

Wargasm—-Layered once again with sound bite samples and almost undistinguished vocals, the track clears up a bit to allow for the vocal. Burton C. Bell adds vocals to the chorus ala Fear Factory style…giving the album at this point a much needed breath of fresh air. This is a favorite of mine..if just for the clear and concise chorus vocal alone.

Antifa—-Powerful and featuring a driving bass line, this is another favorite track of mine. This again, takes me back to the glory days of the band when they were kings of the Industrial 90’s. This is thick…dense and has a pulsating programmed line that really comes alive in the second bar….driving the song to a new height. This is really nice. A brilliant track…though the vocals still seem really buried underneath everything.

Game Over—-After the previous track, this comes across as a ghost of a song at the onset. There is a nice melody line that travels through the song and makes it a bit more accessible. Of course, the song is full of soundbites from various generals…..and of course THE DONALD…..the layers of music that float over the melody line is pretty unique…..I don’t hate this.

AmeriKKKa—-Ending this release with a track that begins sounding more like a metal song, there are some nice elements along the way. I wish Al had more presence of mind to move his vocals up in these tracks…it sounds like he phoned in everything instead of actually participated. I like the slow, plodding sabbath style bass line…..it gives the track a doom filled atmosphere that appeals to me.

*** 1/2 out of 5

 

Editors / Violence

Violence

Editors are an English rock band, formed in 2002 in Birmingham. Previously known as PilotThe Pride and Snowfield, the band currently consists of Tom Smith (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Russell Leetch (bass guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals), Ed Lay (drums, percussion, backing vocals), Justin Lockey (lead guitar), and Elliott Williams (keys, synthesizers, guitars, and backing vocals).

Editors have so far released two platinum studio albums, and six in total, with several million combined sales. Their debut album The Back Room was released in 2005. It contained the hits “Munich” and “Blood” and the following year received a Mercury Prize nomination.

Their follow-up album An End Has a Start went to number 1 in the UK Album Chart in June 2007 and earned the band a Brit Awards nomination for best British Band. It also spawned another Top 10 hit single, “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors“. The band’s third album, In This Light and on This Evening, was released in October 2009 and went straight to number 1 in the UK Album Chart. The band released their fourth studio album, The Weight of Your Love, in July 2013, followed by self-produced In Dream in October 2015.

Alongside their critical acclaim and strong success in the charts, Editors have consistently enjoyed sold-out tours and numerous headlining festival slots. Their brand of dark indie rock is commonly compared to the sound of bands such as Echo & the BunnymenJoy DivisionInterpolThe Chameleons and U2.

Violence is the sixth studio album from British recording group Editors. It was released on 9 March 2018 by PIAS Recordings.

The Analysis—-

Cold—-Full of atmosphere, the music wraps around the vocal remarkably well. This sounds so much like Ian McCullough, I had to double check the release title! The song becomes a bit more full bodied…but the underlying density stays puts and leaves you feeling sad and elated at the same moment. This is incredible.

Hallelujah [So Low]—-Shedding the more familiar sound of the previous track, this has a nice electronic edge to it that gives a full bodied and electric feel to the song. The noise becomes incredible during the second bar…a huge barrage of sound that threatens your headphones…then settles and returns again. A nice unexpected surprise here.

 

Violence—-A slight ambiance to the intro….the vocal is a nice mix of Ian and Bono…..perfectly in sync with the music and the instrumental mood. Delivering some sharp burst of noise here and there, the quality of the song still remains intact. This is dark…but not as dark as Editors of yesteryear. I still manage to fully embrace every release from these blokes though.

Darkness At The Door—-Again, there is a level of layered noise…but a jangly U2 style music that still remains accessible to long time fans. The vocal seems pushed to the back of the song…I would have preferred it much more i the front of the mix. I don’t dislike this release……but it seems a bit uninspired to me standing next to previous releases.

Nothingness—-A bit more sedate and still, the vocal again brings Ian to my mind and makes me really miss Echo And The Bunnymen. This has a really nice sound to it….perhaps my favorite track thus far…it is full of angst….hurt and melancholy…as well as a powerful accessible instrumentation. I really like this.

Magazine—-Atmospheric and a bit odd at the onset, I keep waiting for the song to truly develop…..as the chorus opens up…it does. The song becomes larger and more accessible….full of a rhythmic line that sucks me in. The vocal…still a bit removed from the front of the song still manages to be powerful. This is nice.

No Sound But The Wind—-Now this…..this takes me back to the beginning sounds of the band when they first began. This is remarkably stark and naked….stripped down and allowing the emotional music and vocal to form the song without a bunch of extra additives. This is just brilliant…a true masterpiece of a song.

Counting Spooks—-Layered and delivered exquisitely, this is again….a song that puts me right where I wanted to be when hearing this release. This is incredible…reminding me of when this band first hit my ears. This is brilliant….I love the consistent sound…all of that earlier noise was not necessary.

Belong—-An odd….drip drip drip of an intro, the beginning of the song is naked and stripped bare of effects and consistent instrumentation. The vocal is deeper and darker….strings wrap around it and show promise of the dark epic qualities of the track. This is classic sounding Editors…I love the naked and vulnerable sound of the whole thing. As the song develops….it becomes a bit noisier and a bit convoluted…but over all this is fantastic. A huge sad affair.

**** out of 5

Judas Priest / Firepower

Firepower

Firepower is the 18th studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. It is the first studio album since 1988’s Ram It Down to be produced by Tom Allom, and the first one with Andy Sneap as co-producer. Music videos were made for “Lightning Strike” and “Spectre”.

The Analysis—-

Firepower—-A pure classic introduction here, carrying the trademark Priest sound in every single note. The guitars are blistering and the drums sound better than I have heard in years. What can be said about Halford and his vocal…this is a 66 yr. old man who defies age and ability. I have not heard him sound this powerful since Painkiller….this is just brilliant!

Lightning Strikes—-With another powerful intro, the band is off and running with a rhythmic driving guitar line that makes the track sound monstrous. The trademark vocal…full of screeching overdubs is just incredible. Faulkner has added a new life and dimension to the band and it is all over tracks like these. Halford always amazes…..there is nothing weak about this….not one note is out of place.

 

Evil Never Dies—-With a more classic 80’s sound to the intro, Priest refuses to deliver even one weak track on this release. Halford delivers a vocal that seems a bit more comfortable as it begins….but develops into a slight demonic scream. The twin guitar sound is huge and boisterous. This is just classic in every sense of the word. There is even a slight bluesy feel to the track….really nice.

Never The Heroes—-A staccato and almost airy intro slowly introduces a wall of guitar sound that is dense and complicated.  The drums are so present on this release…..and Halford, despite his powerful vocal…allows every member of the band to shine in their own right. The chorus is a huge addictive thing that is built for huge arena shows and a sing a long from the crowd. Fantastic!

Necromancer—-Bolstered by the huge wall of guitar sound, the band is playing blistering fast and so incredibly tight. This has a nice slight evil twist to it….made even more intense by the fantastic double tracking that Halford manages to produce in the studio. This is just classic in every sense of the word. Priest has not sounded this good in years.

Children Of The Sun—-A higher tuned guitar intro and a slow plodding pace at the onset you are set up for the Nostradamus type vocal from Halford that is delivered here. The amazing thing…you can catch every single word that Halford passes along to you. The chorus finds either band participation or a perfectly back tracked vocal that makes the song even larger. This has moodiness…power…melancholy and aggression. Perfect.

Guardians—-A nice surprise as a gentle piano/keyboard ushers in the song….filled with an airy atmosphere that is layered with moodiness and beauty. The guitars…in the backdrop soar with beauty and the drums usher in….

Rising From The Ruins—-Still carrying some of the moodiness from the guardian interlude, this again reminds me of something from Nostradamus….An album that I literally adore. I love when Halford sings in that dramatic quasi-theatrical style. This is powerful….musically dense…vocally sonic.

Flame Thrower—-Returning to full on blistering Metal that is slight in blues…full of powerful guitar chords and led behind the scenes by incredible drumming. Halford sounds incredible…singing in an acceptable lower range that is still full of power and vitality. The ability of this band to still deliver after all of these years is literally amazing. I am stunned by this release!

Spectre—-Somewhat of an odd intro, quickly falls away to the classic powerhouse sound of the Priest machine. The guitars…down-tuned a bit…are just a literal wall of powerful sound. Halford enunciates every single word in a classic well delivered vocal style. I love everything about this. Atmospheric in a sense…full of power in another.

Traitors Gate—-Slowing things down…allowing for a bit of a respite…excellent song placement….the song quickly sheds it’s mellow sound and becomes a huge devouring serpent head that wants to snap your neck. The guitars are blistering…full of sharp blasts that just swallow you up. The drums gallop as fast as the vocal lines from Halford. The chorus, addictive as hell will live in your head for days. just remarkable.

No Surrender—-What can I say…..this finds a perfect place on this release…delivering a modern yet somehow classic Priest sound. This is as sing a long as anything Priest has ever released. The crowds will go wild for this track….the remarkable melody line is unforgettable and wraps around the front of your brain. Halford hits some exquisite notes that will live forever.

Lone Wolf—-Dense and thick at the very onset, this becomes a huge guitar swaying bluesy affair that is classic. Halford delivers line after line of lyrics that are understandable and crystal clear. This is remarkable…the quality as the release continues just seems to get better and better. This is terrific.

Sea Of Red—-Ending this release…far to soon, the Priest machine gives us a thoughtful track that just leaves you wanting more and more. Halford delivers a mournful vocal that leaves you sad and full of a melancholy. The theatrical quality of his vocal….it is just incredible. The chorus of the song is HUGE and will play live so very well. This should be single material…it will play well on any Modern-Rock radio station. The Priest is BACK!!!!

***** out of 5