Friday, 17 November 2017

The Dark Element - "The Dark Element" (The Dark Element): The Dark Element album review


Cool cover art, reminds me of Layers of Fear


There are people that I can trust with my money all the time. My parents, my sister and Jani-motherfucking-Liimatainen. My favourite
guitarist never released a crappy album and when I heard he's going to make a pop music album I dug up my ABBA tshirt that I had when I was 0 years old. Well, ok, it's not entirely pop- some metal got aboard. With his new girlfriend Anette Olzon and some Cain's Offering members: "The other Jani" and one of the Jonas Brothers on board, Liimatainen shows us how well he can write and produce a Nightwish album. Let's dig in.

Titular The Dark Element starts with some industrial motive that soon blends with more pop synths and vocals follow shortly after. A typical hit song to open an album, where vocals are driving the melody, but don't dominate the sound- it's easy to distinguish each element of the music. Some metal purists will shit on the synthetic-sounding mixing on this album just like they did with Cain's Offering, but in my opinion it fits this kind of music like a glove.
Despite being a hit song the structure is surprisingly complex, and I can say it's one of the highlights for the whole album, but for now let's jump into track number 2.

My Sweet Mystery was featured as a music video and I'm glad to finally be able to hear the album version on a cd quality. Anette's vocals sound softer in this song and lack the power/volume to break through the first verse's background, which is audible when played on a surround system. Thankfully the chorus doesn't disappoint. Another hit song with mid-fast tempo and a juicy guitar solo.

Last Good Day is something new, as it wasn't previously featured on Youtube. Starting more aggressively actually goes softer and slower during the verse only to speed up during the chorus. The most interesting part are Anette's vocals here, not only dominating the melody but showing her range and lungs capacity This only makes me wanna hear Mr. Kotipelto in a duet with lovely Anette. Sudden stop of the song only makes me want to listen to it again, what a great surprise this track was.

Here's To You goes back to what we heard on Youtube as an album promo. Another mid-fast tempo, catchy hit song where Anette's vocals are well supported by the drums, bass and guitars. But on the album version I have a hard time hearing the guitar solo during the outro, somehow on Youtube it was more audible?

Someone You Used to Know is another new piece and the slow start is a nice break from all the previous hit songs, allowing us to appreciate Jani's lyrics and blackoustic guitar. Oh, and Anette's vocals, if for some reason You haven't already.

Dead To Me comes back to the usual tempo where Anette yells at her ex boyfriend in a "I don't care about You, You're dead to me so here's a whole song on the subject" fashion, Taylor Swift style. But again- fast, catchy, interesting, begs for relistening. Main guitar motive is funny, sounds like Jani's having some technical difficulties.

Halo is something new again, going slightly slower than usual but still in the same fashion, although it failed to make a bigger impact on me, maybe in time I'll see something more in it.

I Cannot Raise the Dead is thankfully not only new but also has a few surprises. Synths and background are beautifully done here, lyrics also beat Halo by a huge margin. The chorus with guitar mixing with synths works very well with vocals melody, drilling down your brain so You can hum whole day pissing off anyone you are near. Great guitar solo followed by a softer break that descends to near silence before going back to chorus makes it my favourite track on the whole album just after the first listen. Holy fuck.

The Ghost and the Reaper goes faster and was previously shown to us on a second music video (and I'm glad Frontiers invests in another music video with this project, I pray this works in their favor in the future). Previously my favourite track, 9 is fast paced, has a nice complex build, hard headbanging & sing-along potential during the bridge and also a lot of breaks to catch a breath and allow us to appreciate bass guitar some more.

Heaven of Your Heart starts slower again, with weird lyrics. Anette's trying her best to sing them, but I just cannot enjoy myself while listening to this mess. Don't get me wrong- I like to fuck with the melody with some well thought-out lyrics and I love when Devin Townsend is doing the opposite, fucking with the lyrics for melody's sake. But here the chorus is acceptable and the rest is a mess. Me no likey.

Only One Who Knows Me closes the album with a mid tempo softer track. "On your shore just like I did before" sounds like a bow to Cain's Offering's "Stormcrow" outro track "On the Shore" but maybe I'm looking into it too much. Just like Halo before this song lacks something to hook me up for good. The verses are fine but chorus doesn't work for me, even though the guitar riff on the outro sounds great and the solo closes the whole album perfectly with a Galneryus-like fade out.

side note- the more badass Jani looks the more pop music he makes

Well, this album definitely is a trip, reminds me greatly of the debut Babymetal album, where about 85% of the songs were hit songs and the album felt more like a "best of" compilation than a standalone album. Is it bad? No, for a debut album it's a perfectly valid idea to throw all the catchy melodies you have- some will stick, some won't. As Jani stated during the "making of" video- it's catchy, more poppy and simple than a Cain's Offering and he delivers what he stated perfectly, implementing a lot of ideas that are too soft for Cain's Offering, perhaps some Sydanpuu leftover ideas? He wanted to make something with female vocals and Anette sure gave her best with her performance- so many similar songs and she somehows can sing each one differently enough that we listeners are not bored. The other Jani and Jonas brother were also able to bring some good qualities to the album. Drum patterns are simple but enjoyable, there's a ton of fun transitions and the bass accompanies the melody very well, breaking on the foreground only when it's necessary. Almost every track has a instrumental pause, that allows the listener to catch a breath between all those hit songs and there are a few slower pieces to diversify the tempo on the album a bit.
Even though I didn't like each song on the record it spins very well and one can lose a track of time while listening to it.

 What I would like to hear once in a future (aside of Kotipelto-Olzon lovely vocal duet) is a longer track, with different moods and maybe a story to tell. But now only a quick summary before I jump back into listening to I Cannot Raise the Dead again.

Summary and points that totally matter:

Vocals:  10+/10 (Anette has a new fan in me)
Guitars: 10-/10 (surprised for the minus? More solos, damn it! This is supposed to be a debut album! Tons of solos are perfectly ok on debuts, stop being a mature musician, Jani!)
Bass:     9/10
Drums:  9/10

Additional bonuses:
+ Complex (as far as symphonic metal goes) songwriting, nice song structures
+ catchy as fuck
+ Cool lyrics, basically reading alone builds a melody in your head
+ great mixing
+ song placement on the album. Most artists don't give a fuck about that but I do

Final score: 107,5%. I want more already, Frontiers please invest in those 3 finns and a proud swedish woman :)


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Nordheim: RapThor album review


A typical personal intro story that doesn't mean shit for the review, so if You like being bored then read this shit, if not then skip for the main juice. Or just fuck this review, listen to the awesome music instead and do something better with Your life.
A decade ago I was a dedicated Finntroll fan, the first folk metal band I heard. After Ur Jordens Up I didn't really like the darker tone of the album and longed for less serious, more energetic folk metal.

Then the Trollfest came up, with drunk as fuck albums that didn't take anything seriously, with low quality production that fits extreme folk bands as much as it fits classic black metal stuff. And I loved it, they were instantly in my top 5 bands and I was their fan for 10 years before during Masters of Rock 2017 I parted ways with them. The last 2 Trollfest albums were definitely not for me, not  goofy enough, not extreme enough, not badly produced enough.

But just as Trollfest came to me as a messiah when Fintroll wasn't good enough for me this time Nordheim came up with their second album Refill, literally refilling my life with joy and raw, extreme pagan/folk music about drinking beer and fucking whores. The best part? These guys ain't even from Norway or Finland, these are Canadians. Canadians playing a better extreme folk metal than many other groups, the apocalypse is near!

This is their newest shit, RapThor, with an amazing cover art showing goblins and hoes drinking with guns while riding a dinosaur. We're in for a ride with this one.

Troll Riding a Raptor is straight to the point with the song title and the intro. Roll the dice and relax with the extreme tempo, brain bashing drums and classic "1997 Finntroll" guitars. I'm worried about other songs, because everything Nordheim is known for is already here, no healthy dosage just a supersize meal composed of alcohol, whores, goblins, guns and dinosaurs. What's left?
Shivering fear until the break od dawn
Cause the warrior's heart is as black as a moonless night
Ending on a such poetic note <3

Boobs and Bacon , YES! This is what I wanted to see after getting a taste from the album opener. Tempo doesn't slow down but the guitars leave some room for headbanging and the choir bridge gives some sing-along potential for future shows. Second song and I haven't heard even a bit of bass guitar, that means the wall of sound is so overwhelming or the production so raw that I'm going deaf, exactly what I wanted to hear from this band.
No need to be afraid
Fueled by bacon we can't die

Scroll of the Lightning Bolt sounds way more serious not only in the title but..
To kill a beast with claws bigger than a monster cock
ok, maybe not way more serious, but it's a slightly longer piece with more orchestrations, slower parts to catch a breath and an epic story about a group of adventurers facing a dragonlord, with their hopes put in a scroll of the lightning bolt. There's even a guitar solo in there somewhere and some choirs, so we're very close to power metal here, minus all the gay of course, this is music for manly men, rolling dices and talking about their elf warriors..Wait.

Black Witch Rises is next, starting slower but soon coming back into standard tempo, and here we abandon all the power metal stuff to focus on something more fitting the extreme tempo and growls- a horror story of the witch plans, cutting off limbs, spreading suffering and diseases to the world. A serious piece to show the world that Nordheim might be fun, but they are still capable of writing some darker and more serious stuff.
Thrills and chills to the sound of pain, none shall witness joy UNDER MY REIGN

I Wish You Were Beer on the other hand.. The title says it all. Nothing I can add to a hymn of folk metal. Reminded me of a conversation I had long ago.
- ... but  she doesn't like folk metal much.
- does she drink alcohol?
- no.
- then I'm not surprised.
Fighting naked while we pee, throwing bitches in the sea 
Cheering, laighing endlessly, that's a life for me

Strenght Became The Storm (love the error in a song title, these are rare) is similar to the Scroll of Lightning Bolt but sadly doesn't show anything new to the mix, it's mostly "more of the same", the lyrics also are a bit generic with a champion of light fighting a demon, I only like the ending part:
In the name of those who will fall
We drink to remember them all
Raise your horn and your sword
Among the stars they will hear our call

Blood's Shade is more interesting starting with a guitar solo, reminding me of the great Soulblood. The song definitely has a similar horror feel to the Black Witch Rises, but it's more powerful and has more tempo changes and guitar solos with a calm outro. Definitely the most melodic death-ish song on the album, serious in tone but interesting. Would be a great album outro, but we still have one more left.
Blood's shade now wakes up the past I long forgot
Blood's shade now devours and leaves the rest to rot

Dragonthorn is the longest on the album, but the major tempo and mood change in the middle doesn't make it feel as long. Serious again with one funny and stressed line:
A magical steel made by frozen flames
FROZEN FLAMES

it tells a story of a dragon and a hero fighting and so on. While the song isn't bad I was hoping for a story including the dinosaur riding goblins with guys, especially when the tone of the song changed. A missed opportunity.


And that's Nordheim's RapThor, Thor not included (sadly). It's a good album to listen to while drunk, but I expected way more goofyness from it. There is some of course, but it's more like "hey, boobs and bacon! Do we have Your attention? Ok, now listen to a story about dragons". Nordheim can do serious songs well but I love them the most in the less serious songs. 
I want more of this ^. I want Josephine next to Thor riding a dinosaur fighting a dragon with a blade made by frozen flames. FROZEN FLAMES. Is it a sin to want more?

But I'll give them that- the lyrics are good, the music is flawless old school pagan/folk extreme metal with great high pitched and low growls, cool guitar solos and no signs of bass guitar. Basically I have to love it by default. Also some melodic death metal added to the mix, always cool.

There is one thing that makes it ten thousand times better than the last Wintersun album- energy. This album makes you so pumped that You want to punch the wall or tear your neck while headbanging. And if you don't like extreme folk metal then this "noise" makes you angry, so also full of energy - point proven. In that regard these guys are Kalmah of the folk metal world.

Check this out if You like boobs, dinosaurs and dungeons and dragons and power metal just doesn't do it for You anymore.

Summary:

Vocals: 10/10
Guitars: 9/10
Bass: Josephine/10
Drums: 8/10
Keyboards: wait, there are keyboards in it?

Additional:
Wonderful cover art
Very cool lyrics
+ Boobs
+ Bacon
+ Dinosaurs
- Not enough boobs
- Not enough bacon (NEVER enough)
- Not enough dinosaurs
- Josephine ;__; Where is she?

Total score that totally matters: 93% 
Please add more stupid shit next time, it's the most fun

Friday, 21 July 2017

Fucking boring. Wintersun "Forest Seasons" review

better than the original artwork.


A new Wintersun album, band that started legendary and then fell into the dark slumber. Will this album be able to get them back to Melodic death metal world? Or just kill the whole thing before Time II will be finished?

Shitty, plastic artwork and the fact that unlike Time II we didn't hear about this album being made until late this year are worrying, it looks like something Jari did in his free time in his basement that they have to sell to Nuclear Blast so NB won't kick their asses out. But open-minded and with tiny bit of hope I sit down with best quality master wav files and good headphones, let's take a look.

Awaken From The Dark Slumber

It starts with some atmospherical intro with candy-like  Time 1 soft orchestrations

then drums hit it along with some really crappy black metal guitars with various synths in the background. It stays for a long time, too long for me and I like to watch or listen to some 10 hour version videos so it says a lot.
Vocals hit it with decent power and spelling, Jari got even better than on Time 1.
The background for vocals is much richer with guitars.
Considering how long and boring this song it's definitely black metal done wrong.

IT'S SO FUCKING BORING.

After a while it sounds like the background on equilibrium live shows with bad audio setting: plastic, loud and out of place.

And now more distorted black metal guitar, great.
And now a long, boring part where nothing interesting happens.

WHY SO LONG, WHY SO BORING? Were You ever bored on the first album?
Or Time 1? Yes Jari, play live a song where part 1 and 2 of the song are divided by boring instrumental part that last hours.
At least the vocals are good.

Overall not much happens, the guitars and drums are boring, Jari tries to tell the story and add some typical live sing along stuff and it doesn't really work, they come around 9th minute and the audience should already be asleep at this point.

Some of it reminds me of Winter's Gate, so if You somehow like this track please check out last Insomnium's album if You havent.

The song is Starchild with less fancy build, add the boring, stretched parts of Beautiful Death to it and copy paste instrumental parts to fill 12 minutes with it.

The vocals are great, lyrics are some pointless crap like on Sons of Winter and Stars, but there are no fancy drums or guitars or bass. It's all closer to black metal than ever before which I guess justifies why this music is so fucking long, boring and nothing memorable happens. The melody's pretty dull too.

The Forest That Weeps

"I am the worms in the dirt"
...You mean Wintersun fans?

Intro slightly more interesting than in the previous song but also stretched to the point of yawning.
Guitars still sound like black metal rhythm guitar with broken amplifier and a few strings missing
And vocals fail to appear in over 2 minutes.

After a verse of again good vocals the "epic riff" happens and still sounds fucking dull, just as on the video. Thankfully the choirs with Jari that follow are pretty good.
Lyrics are also a bit more interesting than before, maybe because the whole music has a much better melody than the previous track.
I wonder if Kai didn't asleep when recording drums, this sounds really boring. Maybe playing in Nightwish helps to cope with boring drum parts.

Uh oh, I thought that the song ended and it's around half. Boring instrumental part time!

At least after some repeating of some melody the guitars hit it hard and finally doesn't sound like shit.
But no solo happens, fuck solos. It's only Jari Maenpaa, one of previously best guitarists I knew.
And now you made me hate that guitars joined the instrumental part, because it's wide, it's stretched, it got boring after 30 seconds.
Some turisas-ish outro joins with badly mixed volume (way too loud than the rest) and good choirs that follow.

Why does it have to be that long? Sons of Winter and Stars were long, but they were packed with lyrics, memorable moments, walls of sound. This just doesn't work, the song is as long but has around 2 times less lyrics so it has to either repeat some parts to the point where the listener is bored or stretch out every element adding some extra seconds to parts that start good and interesting, but then get fucking boring.
Unlike the previous song this one has some more redeeming parts, it could be a good song if it was max 8 minutes long..
I bet there is nothing to discover here after multiple listens, on the first listen You can see the whole image and structure.

Eternal Darkness

Another stretched intro, this time less interesting with even more obnoxious black metal guitar
 (amps on fire, amps on fire, hurting ears with desire!)

I think Jukka is snoring or burping on the intro, not surprising

Enter the washing machine drums, later lyrics and some sounds in the background that are barely audible.
Remember when we all said that Time 1 needs more solos? Jari didn't, there are no solos so far and close to no riffs.
BORING AND STRETCHED, BORING AND STRETCHED. I'M DONE

Vocals: 10/10
Guitars: 2/10
Bass:   -1/10
Drums:   2/10

Additional score:
+ Choirs and vocal mixing is good
- style shift to boring as fuck black metal
- I didn't pay for it and I feel robbed, mostly of time
= I had low expectations from a rushed album like that but it's worse than I thought. I thought
a perfectionist like Jari wouldn't release something that fucking boring.
Wanna do atmospherical metal? Check out Swallow The Sun. Check out Insomnium. Wanna add some good black metal stuff to melodic death? Check out Whispered.
- overhyped beyond reason by both the band and the fans.

Total score: 25%. I wasn't able to finish listening it, I was bored beyond reason. Wintersun can always make me feel something new and unexpected and they didn't fail. It was the first time I got so bored while listening to something Jari made.

This review was crap, but You know what? Listening to low quality music doesn't make me wanna try hard and be a good reviewer.