Author Topic: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/  (Read 2736 times)

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Offline The Ancient Warrior

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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2012, 11:47:46 AM »
Actually, I think the song that made the night was either "Consign to Oblivion" or "The Phantom Agony." I'm not really that familiar with their typical live setlists, but I was hoping for more than just "Cry For the Moon" from the first two albums, or any song from "A New Age Dawns." Hearing "Sensorium" out of nowhere (and near the beginning of the set, when I still had most of my voice) was a wonderful surprise.  It just kept getting better with "Quietus" and "The Phantom Agony" was a really fun one with the unexpected disco lights and drums on the chorus. :lol:

So it's either "The Phantom Agony" or "Consign to Oblivion." I can't really decide which was better, but then again, having three out of the five awesome album-closers in the setlist was more than I could ever ask for.

As for System Divide, I understand I'm kind of in the minority.  The people I hung out with for part of the night didn't seem to like them all that much, either.  But one thing I really like is the variety that having Epica as the headliner lends itself to, because all four of the opening acts were at different points on the spectrum around Epica itself, so they can unite a lot of fans with different tastes.  It really worked to their advantage, too, because apparently their last concert in Worcester was in the Palladium's much smaller stage upstairs rather than the main one.
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Offline Asian Legends Fan

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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #31 on: December 05, 2012, 10:16:34 AM »
I don't know if you still listen to much Strato, TAW, but the details for their new album, Nemesis are out:

http://www.blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=183196

I'm not a fan of that artwork at all, but I will say that it definitely matches this new sound Stratovarius is presenting. They have been hinting at a stylistic shift to something slightly darker and edgier. This new sample and what I heard from their new drummer tracking for the album do captivate me, though. It's clearly very different from Elysium but certainly not in a bad way to me. I suppose that 11 tracks hints at no 20-minute epic like Elysium, though.
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Offline The Ancient Warrior

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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #32 on: December 05, 2012, 08:04:40 PM »
Well, to be fair, Elysium still only clocked in at about an hour.  So adding in two five-minute tracks but keeping around the same length otherwise is still possible... I'm probably reaching a bit on that one and they probably would've mentioned a superlong track if there is one, but it's possible. :P

But yeah, the cover at least seems to convey the sound change.  Maybe it'd be more of a modern epic or something, but I dunno. (Though I feel like the blatant fanservice with the nude angel was a bit much. :|) I'm hoping these changes won't be a turn for the worse, because Elysium is probably my favorite album by them at this point.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 08:05:15 PM by The Ancient Warrior »
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Offline Asian Legends Fan

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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #33 on: December 06, 2012, 01:59:16 AM »
Well, Elysium's my personal favorite too. :P At least one of the perfect points about that album seems to have been carried over to this new one from what I can hear: the production. I'm personally looking forward to hearing this "darker, heavier" Stratovarius in February, but maybe that's just because this clip is reminding me of "New World Shadows" by Omnium Gatherum, one of my current favorite songs - it's got that same electronic feel going on with the keyboards. Right now, the only downside I see to this new sound is that the guitars aren't the focus and are used more as percussive instruments as I can already hear in the "Unbreakable" sample.
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Offline The Ancient Warrior

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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #34 on: December 13, 2012, 03:43:49 AM »
So apparently Orphaned Land is going into the studio for another album.  According to Kobi, there won't be any grunts on it, but it's not a permanent change of direction, just one to fit this new music in particular.  Not much else to say about it at the moment, except yay for not having to wait until like 2017 :P
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Offline Asian Legends Fan

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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #35 on: December 13, 2012, 03:57:49 AM »
Jesus, I switched over to this window just after having looked at that post. :lol: I suppose one cause for concern is all-too-frequently made Orphaned Land-Opeth comparison; because for Opeth, losing growls in their most recent album meant a sudden (and unexpected for fans, I guess) switch from their progressive metal with some death growls formula to an intentional warm, fuzzy, 70's progressive rock record. Then again, Opeth also made an abrupt stylistic anomaly by eschewing growls and making an acoustic album (Damnation) in 2003, and the band's fans ended up hailing it as one of their best; so I can definitely see speculation on this new Orphaned Land record going both ways. :?

Either way, at the end of the day; it could suck or be a masterpiece with or without growls. Knowing Orphaned Land, I lean more towards "masterpiece" in my speculation. I could actually see something like Damnation being made - a softer, shorter offering, rather than another 80-minute album. EDIT: Although, now that I think about it, does that mean I might have to wait ANOTHER six years to finally hear Matan Shmuely on an Orphaned Land album? :o That guy is a beast on the drums, and admittedly I'd be disappointed if he didn't get to show off what he can do on this next one.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2012, 04:04:17 AM by Asian Legends Fan »
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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #36 on: December 17, 2012, 04:48:46 AM »


Looks like the full song has been released for Finnish radio and someone put it on YouTube. Not bad at all... :o I'm just going to say this is the darkest the band has ever sounded since Dreamspace and that the midsection beginning at about the 2:50 mark is pretty epic. It's kinda weird seeing something the band put out something like this after Elysium, but who's to say that's a bad thing until we hear the full thing?
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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #37 on: February 15, 2013, 04:30:17 AM »
Since I already ordered my copy anyway, I decided it couldn't heard to give Stratovarius' new album Nemesis which has already leaked in its entirety a little pre-listening before getting the physical copy and just get some of my thoughts about it out. My opinions can always change, but these are some first thoughts on the album.

First of all, Nemesis does not come close to beating Elysium as my favorite Stratovarius album and what in my opinion is their best work overall. Most of of the reviews I've seen of this album have critics hailing this as a really good one, some even going as far as "This is the best Strato album since Visions!" I really don't see it, honestly. Maybe it's just the perhaps all-to-common fallacy in this genre that heavier is automatically better. Nemesis is definitely the darkest and heaviest Stratovarius have ever sounded, even taking to account the earliest of their albums. But so what?

All right, the positives first: the new style of riffing definitely works, and I'm picking up on a lot of thirds harmonies (key to Iron Maiden and Swedish melodeath bands) which I love. Matias Kupiainen delivers many excellent riffs - one personal highlight for me is the crazy opening riff of "Halcyon Days" - but seems to hold back with the solos on quite a few of the songs here, which is something I thought I would note. I'm not usually one to whine about the lack of solos, but when you have a guitarist like Matias in the band; it seems like a waste of his talent. Other than "Halcyon Days," I'm also really enjoying the opener, "Abandon"; and the track that follows it, "Unbreakable." All three of those songs have incredibly infectious choruses and probably the best rhythms. The title track, "Nemesis" is also noteworthy.

I've also noticed the inclusion of a lot more electronic, perhaps also industrial, elements on the album. I think they work well at times (such as the verse of "Unbreakable") but at others seem strange and out-of-place (the midsection of "Halcyon Days"); personally, I think they work best on the title track. The guitars, keys, and vocals sound good (apart from maybe the vocal effects on "Stand My Ground") sonically; but the drums are really bothering me. The way they've been produced... this is a big step back from the way they sounded on Elysium, which I think is one of the best sounding albums I've heard. My biggest gripe is that the crash cymbals sound like they had a budget of $20 and got the completely cracked cymbals! As a drummer, I know exactly what a cracked cymbal sounds like (much shorter sound and very trashy) and I hear that sound every downbeat. I have no idea what's up with that, but it really bothers me. The drums are also too loud in the mix, which becomes evident in the softer sections.

Elysium was perfect in the sense that it was well-produced and covered the entire spectrum of Stratovarius - from the addictive, mid-tempo power metal anthems; to the Strato-typical slow, groovy, 6-7 minute track; to the ballads; to the quintessential lightning fast song; to the long, epic title track at the end of the album. Nemesis seems very homogenous in character compared to its predecessor, with most of the tracks here following the tempo set by "Unbreakable." The lightning quick song (okay, now I'm definitely starting to miss Jörg Michael) and long epic are both completely omitted from the formula here; and the closest thing you'll get to that slower, groovier track (like "Soul Of A Vagabond" or "Lifetime In A Moment") is "Castles In The Air." Nothing else from here really sticks into my head as much as "Unbreakable" (which I admit is a fantastic song), "Halcyon Days," and "Abandon," of which two out of three were already released prior to the album's release date, do.

The final verdict? Unlike Elysium, which was a compact package summarizing Stratovarius with fantastic production and quality songwriting; Nemesis is a relatively disappointing effort that ultimately sounds bland as it lacks variety, turning it into an hour of fairly similar songs. Despite this, there are gems here and it could always grow on me as just an enjoyable, easy listen rather than a challenging but fulfilling one.

Summary of good and bad points:
+ The heavier, almost melodeath-influenced riffs still manage to work in Stratovarius' music
+ The guitars tuned to D standard (or C#, I can't really tell) have helped Timo Kotipelto stay comfortable in his new, lower vocal range
+ Performances from all members are still good

- Matias Kupiainen does not play to his amazing potential
- Drums are produced annoyingly loud and the cymbals sound awful
- Electronic elements are a tasteful addition in some cases, but don't always work and are perhaps sometimes overshadowing the guitars
- There is a lack of variety, something that had set Stratovarius aside from many other power metal bands IMO
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 11:25:09 AM by Asian Legends Fan »
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Offline The Ancient Warrior

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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #38 on: February 23, 2013, 01:14:20 PM »
Finally got around to giving each track a listen now, actually.  I'm sure my opinions will change after a few more listens, but listening to each track other than "Unbreakable" for the first time, anyway...

The overall new direction for Nemesis kind of reminds me of Delain's new direction with We Are the Others.  The only difference is the downtuning and the electronic influences seemed to distract more from Delain's original sound while still fitting those new songs, but there's a sort of synergy between the new changes and Stratovarius's basic sound.  So it sounds new, but it still sounds like Stratovarius where with Delain, my biggest gripe was that the symphonic elements practically disappeared.

The other thing I noticed is that Rolf Pilve seems like an okay drummer, but there's really nothing that stands out a whole lot.  I definitely don't know as much about drums and the technical details, but I'm not hearing as much character in his work as with Jörg Michael's drumming.  Though I suppose it might be unfair to compare those two since Rolf's new and Jörg left his mark on TEN Stratovarius albums in 16 years... He's got time to improve if he stays with the band, so I guess we'll see if he finds more of his own style.

Totally agree on "Halcyon Days" being one of the best tracks.  The crazy riffs and the choirs worked well, but the electronic influence did sound a little off.  But man, those riffs...

Sometimes the tone of a song just strikes a chord with me, and that was the case for "Fantasy." From a technical standpoint, it might not be very impressive, but there was something nice and catchy about it, and the keyboards worked especially well there.

So far, though, my favorite might actually be "Out of the Fog." Like any good 7-minute+ tracks, it doesn't seem to drag, and I heard a lot of nice chugging riffs, proof that Timo can still sing some pretty high notes (even if they're not as high as on Episode or Elements), and a fine solo that you somehow missed... :P

I wasn't particularly thrilled with "Castles in the Air," but the darker sound seemed to work for it.  But you're right that there doesn't seem to be a lot of variety on this album.  This song kind of sounds like part of "Elysium," but doesn't really provide the listener with a lot of variety.  It's the closest analogy I can make, since it doesn't even sound downtempo enough to compare to "Lifetime in a Moment" or "Somehow Precious."

The electronic bits seem to really work much better on "Dragons," which is another nice and catchy one.  Coincidentally, I'm working on joining a multiplayer league called the Descent Rangers as a member of the Red Dragons team, and this song would be a great theme for the squad if it weren't for the tone of the lyrics.  If it sounded more "I dare you to beat them" then "You're strong enough to defeat them," then I'd use it.

"One Must Fall" didn't really stand out much at all, to be perfectly honest.  The title drop in the chorus was just about the only thing I remember after the first listen.

There's an odd slightly Eastern sound to the intro to "If the Story Is Over" (unless I'm actually hearing a modulated whistle :lol:), and the acoustic guitar and symphonic instruments provide a very nice atmosphere.  Too bad there weren't more of these stylistic departures on the album.  This song certainly sounds like Stratovarius, and really, out of all the albums I've listened to (as of writing this, I haven't gotten around to their self-titled album), I think the only song that doesn't sound like Stratovarius is "Full Moon," which was merely a bonus track anyway.  My only complaint is that the instrumentation seems to be trying to drown out Timo's voice when the heavy guitars and drums kick in, but other than that, I really enjoyed it.  Why wasn't there another calmer song like this?

And at last, the title track, which starts with some nice neoclassical elements I also missed throughout most of the album.  That might be why the electronic parts were iffy throughout... Jens's more classically-inspired synths have always worked on songs like "Blind," "Event Horizon" and of course the instrumentals, but when they start sounding more techno-pop, then there's a chunk of the classic Strato sound missing right there.  One of my other complaints is that the way the song was put together, it sounded like it was closing when the chorus only halfway through started in.  This is why most of Stratovarius's longer songs work but this one didn't really work as well for me: it sort of dragged for the last two minutes, and it wasn't even seven minutes long.  Maybe if the different elements had been put together in another order (perhaps starting with the closing choirs and then building up?), I wouldn't have felt this way.

Overall, I agree that it feels a little "blah" compared to Polarius and Elysium, but granted, the last one was a VERY hard act to follow.  I do like the sound changes for the most part, but I also feel like there's a lack of songwriting variety and that's the big drawback here.  There was catchy stuff, it was just a bit too homogeneous, but as you said, it'll probably evolve into a nice, fun listen over time, especially for me after I give it some time.
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Offline The Ancient Warrior

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Re: \m/ The Heavy Metal Thread \m/
« Reply #39 on: March 23, 2013, 07:05:25 PM »
*Dusts off the thread*

Well, just finished watching Epica's Retrospect show through LiveMusicStage's streaming service.  So worth the $9 or so that the ticket cost, seeing as I couldn't possibly have flown over to Eindhoven to be there in person.  Definitely a great experience either way, with barely any streaming issues on my end.

There were no less than 25 entries on the three-hour setlist, one of which was a medley of several tracks.  The band had already said there'd be a wide variety of songs and they would be collaborating again with the orchestra and choir they'd recorded The Classical Conspiracy with in Miskolc, Hungary.  But I did NOT expect as many surprises as they threw in on this one.  Acrobatic dancers made a surprising appearance on "Chasing the Dragon" (although they seemed a bit out of place on the heavier part :lol:).  Several covers that first appeared on The Classical Conspiracy were added into the setlist thanks to the orchestra.  There was a new instrumental intro and a brand new song that shared its name with the show.  And there was also a couple amazing guest appearances during the show, which really added to the feel of the tenth-anniversary concert and everything.

Full setlist:

Basic Instinct (new instrumental!)
Monopoly on Truth
Sensorium
Unleashed
Martyr of the Free Word
Chasing the Dragon (with acrobatic dancers)
Presto
Never Enough
Stabat Mater Dolorosa (with Floor Jansen)
Twin Flames (first time played live!)
Serenade of Self-Destruction
Orchestral/choral medley: Feint/Fools of Damnation/Mother of Light/Kingdom of Heaven/Run for a Fall/Deep Water Horizon
The Divine Conspiracy (clipped somewhat for time, but for a 14-minute song rarely played live, it's better than nothing)
Delirium
Blank Infinity
The Obsessive Devotion (they went a long time without playing this one!)
Retrospect (brand-new song!)
Star Wars medley, including The Imperial March
Quietus (with Ad Sluijter, Yves Huts and Jeroen Simons)
The Phantom Agony (complete with the disco breakdown and lights again... yay :lol:)

Cry for the Moon (complete with a crowd sing-along and a phenomenal drum solo outro)
Sancta Terra (with Floor Jansen one more time)
Design Your Universe

Storm the Sorrow (wow, almost left this one out!)
Consign to Oblivion

Tons of surprises on this setlist, suffice to say.  I almost didn't notice "Storm the Sorrow" was missing for most of the concert, but I was so in love with a lot of the unconventional choices such as "Twin Flames," "Delirium" and "Design Your Universe" that it more than made up for the idea that Epica "had to" play certain songs.  There really isn't much I could've asked for that they didn't do, since with three hours and hardly a bad egg in their backlog, the band would've satisfied me with just about anything.  There's really no way around it: Epica is an amazing live band.

I also really liked the livestreaming option, partly because I couldn't possibly afford to be there in person and partly because it put much less strain on my voice to be singing and screeching along from home and not yelling at the gravelly top of my lungs to be heard amidst a crowd. :lol: But it's really an option other bands should consider instead of blaming the internet for every sales loss, and it was definitely very gracious of Epica and LiveMusicStage to offer that for a great price.  I still felt like a part of the experience from thousands of miles away, and it's a nice innovation to really help performers and their audiences.  Definitely made for a great Saturday, that's for sure. :)
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