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Apr 14, 2014
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Tuomas Holopainen – “The Life and Times of Scrooge” (2014)

Label: Nuclear Blast

Review by Tony Cannella

On his debut solo album, Nightwish keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen has created a concept album based around the graphic novel “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck”! According to Mr. Holopainen this project was 14 years in the making and written during his downtime from Nightwish.

Granted Scrooge McDuck may not be a very metal topic to tackle, but “The Life and Times…” isn’t really a metal album… so there! “…Scrooge” features 10-songs and almost an hour worth of symphonic, classically influenced music with folk and cinematic influences as well – with the album artwork done by the book’s author Don Rosa. There are several guest musicians, including four singers: Alan Reid, Johanna Kurkela, Johanna Iivanainen & Tony Kakko. Continue reading »

Jan 9, 2013
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AraPacis – “Netherworld” (2012)

Label : Ravenheart Music

Review by Tony Cannella

The Montreal, Canada based progressive, gothic metal band AraPacis were formed in 2003. In 2006 they released their debut “So Many Leapers” and followed that up in 2009 with “Consequences of Dreams”. On their first two albums they made it clear that they have a wide range of influences. AraPacis returns with their third album. So without further adieu, let’s enter the “Netherworld”.

“End of the Line” kicks things off with an infectious and melodic guitar riff. Lead vocalist Lizzie Fyre alternates between a clean singing voice and an extreme style. She does that just about as well as anyone, it is not a technique that is overused, she only does this on a couple of songs. “Horror Show” is a straight-forward song, based around a simplistic heavy metal riff and the high vocals of Lizzie Fyre. “Lord of the Clouds” is next and it is reminiscent of Swedish doom metallers Candlemass. It’s definitely got a slow, heavy and doomy vibe to it, except for the thrashy part near the end. At 7-minutes, this is the longest song and my favorite. Other highlights: “Unbirth”, the great ballad “Beautifully Blind” and the closing instrumental “Dark Days Ahead”. For the most part, “Netherworld” maintains a good hard rock and metal pace, while also veering off into Gothic, Doom and Progressive territories at times.

I’m not sure where this will stack up compared to their previous material, but “Netherworld” does maintain a level of consistency that their die-hard fan base should love. AraPacis are fast becoming one of the best bands out of the Canadian metal scene. Continue reading »

May 2, 2012
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Heather Findlay – “The Pheonix Suite” EP (2011)

Label : Black Sand Records

Review by Stina & Mark Hateley

In their more than fifteen years of existence, Mostly Autumn have gained a reputation as one of the most influential British prog bands of the new era – partly because of their spellbinding soundscapes, and partly because of the figure of frontwoman Heather Findlay, who parted ways with the band in 2011. “The Phoenix Suite”, the debut solo recording of Heather, is the first 5 track EP in a series of 4, and, alongside Heather herself and guitarist Chris Johnson, it features performances from Dave Kilminster on guitars, Steve Vantsis on bass and Alex Cromarty on drums. Much as the title seems to imply, it marks a new beginning in her career – which means that, of course, those expecting something reminiscent of what Mostly Autumn became known for, would be disappointed. As it’s normal for an artist deciding to embark on a solo career, Heather is clearly striving for colouring outside the lines required by her work in Mostly Autumn, and trying to sail through uncharted seas – or better still, fly towards new horizons. Much of the EP sheds her prog roots in favor of a more up-to-date and probably more mundane palette described as ‘dark’, ‘quirky’, ‘rocky’ and ‘bohemienne’: what Heather is doing at this time of her career on “The Phoenix Suite” is laying down an elegant, but accessible brand of Rock that is sure to please fans of her as a singer but will probably leave fans of Mostly Autumn quite perplexed. That’s not to say that she doesn’t have potential as a solo performer – but it’s rarely realized here, rendering this small collection of songs, for the most part, inert if easily listenable. “The Phoenix Suite” seems to find Heather pursuing a personal vernacular she’d yet to define: here’s hope the next episodes in the EP serie will see her closer to her musical personality.

Rating – 65/100

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Apr 30, 2012
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Folkodia – “Forgotten Lore” (2011)

Label : Stygian Crypt Productions

Review by Tony Cannella

The Viking Folk Metal band Folkodia is a conglomeration of several different projects all coming together to form Folkodia. The band was formed in 2007 and the current line-up features 12 members from 8 different countries. On their 3rd album “Forgotten Lore”, Folkodia has released an album of acoustic versions of some songs that originally appeared on their first two albums. The vibe behind “Forgotten Lore” is more Folk than Metal, in fact there is no metal to be found anywhere on “Forgotten Lore”, it is just straight up acoustic Folk music with songs about Vikings and Elves. “Forgotten Lore” starts off strong with “Ancient Forest of Elves”. This is my favorite song and right away the listener is treated to the interplay between the male and female vocals that dominates the album. The male vocalist has a deep voice and the female vocalists also offer a lot to the songs. The mournful “Bound For Vahalla” is next and quickly became another highlight. Other highlights that makes up the 47-minute disc include: “Winter Night” (strong vocal performances all around on this one), “The Fierce Kiss of Death”, “Thus A Viking Dies” and “The Immortals of Thul”. Having never heard Folkodia before, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and the uniqueness presented on “Forgotten Lore”. Sure, it may not be Metal but it offers a pretty cool change of pace from the normal Folk Metal fare. 

Rating – 84/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Ancient Forest of Elves
  2. Bound for Valhalla
  3. The Capitulation of Vercingetorex
  4. The Fierce Kiss of Death
  5. Honored Are the Fallen
  6. Winter Night
  7. Thus A Viking Dies
  8. The Immortals of Thul
  9. Sword in Hand
  10. The Lone Warrior
  11. The Capitulation of Vercingerorex II

 

Line Up

  • Metfolvik (Ruslanas) – Vocals, Tin whistle
  • Hildr Valkyrie – Vocals
  • Elio D’Alessandro – Vocals
  • Anais – Vocals
  • Simon Müller – Guitars, Acoustic guitars, Bass, Flute, Tin whistle
  • Loki – Drum programming, Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
  • Münggu Beyeler – Deger pipe, Ewi flute, Vocals
  • Eleanor Lucas – Violin
  • Saga – Guitar, Bass, Vocals
  • Matthew Bell – Guitars, Acoustic guitars, Mandolin, Nylon string guitars, Lute, Bass
  • Mara Davis – Flute
  • Blackheart Nostarion – Cello
  • Rhode Rachel – Vocals, Jaw Harp, Tin Whistle, Bass
  • Billy Knockenhauer – Guitar

 

Links

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Apr 10, 2012
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Eerie Sounds Section : Blackmore’s Night – “Autumn Sky” (2010)

Label : Spinefarm Records/Universal

Review by Tony Cannella

Ritchie Blackmore, Candice Night and their merry band of minstrels have been spreading the gospel for fine renaissance music since 1997. Who ever thought it would last this long? I sure as heck didn’t but the fact remains that Blackmore’s Night has quietly and steadily built up a strong back catalogue of material that continues with their latest offering “Autumn Sky”. Musically “Autumn Sky” is not really much of a departure from what Blackmore’s Night has been known for. The tandem of Ritchie and Candice Night continues to explore their fascination with Renaissance era music and sounds. Candice Night, in particular has been a huge, integral part of Blackmore’s Night’s sound and evolution – both with her voice and her lyrics. Songs like “Highland”, “Vagabond”, “Journeyman”, “Celluloid Heroes” and “Strawberry Girl” are all strong indeed and continue the tradition that began in 1997 with “Shadow of the Moon”. Of course Ritchie Blackmore is far removed from his days as a guitar virtuoso in such legendary bands as Deep Purple and Rainbow and is fully entrenched in the Renaissance thing. Candice and Ritchie are obviously doing something they enjoy and that comes out loud and clear on “Autumn Sky”.

Rating – 84/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Highland
  2. Vagabond (Make a Princess of Me)
  3. Journeyman
  4. Believe In Me
  5. Sake of the Song
  6. Song and Dance, Pt. 2
  7. Celluloid
  8. Heroes
  9. Keeper of the Flame
  10. Night at Eggersberg
  11. Strawberry Girl
  12. All the Fun of the Fayre
  13. Darkness
  14. Dance of the Darkness
  15. Health to the Company
  16. Barbara Allen 

 

Line Up

  • Candice Night – Vocals, Chanter, Cornamuse, Shawm, Rauschpfeife & Tambourine
  • Ritchie Blackmore – Guitar, Mandolin, Domra & Hurdy Gurdy
  • Bard David of Larchmont – Keyboards
  • Gypsy Rose – Violin
  • Earl Grey of Chamay – Bass, Mandolin and Rhythm Guitar 
  • Squire Malcolm of Lumley – Drums, Percussions

 

Links

MySpace * FacebookSite

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