Tag Archives: Rhapsody of Fire

Fluffrick’s Half-Year Hitters

The best thing that Delain have done to date? I should say so…

Inspired by Angry Metal Guy’s list, and because everybody loves a top ten (no matter how arbitrary they end up being), here’s my selection of the best records in 2012 so far.   I can’t really say that anything which I’ve picked up has been a massive disappointment, and I’ve even found a band in the form of Diabulus In Musica who I totally adore and had never heard of before taking a chance on their second release.  Excellent returns from old-hands, convincing albums from established Euro Metal acts and cracking debut collections – you can’t say fairer than that from a year, can you?

1) Delain“We Are The Others”.  Clearly the best album this gifted Dutch symphonic metal quintet have released so far – as much for the ways that it diverts from the established musical template of that genre whilst still retaining their identity.  It’s the kind of record with enough diversity that your favourite song will change with each listening session – for me, the late-album track “Are You Done With Me?” is an alternate universe smash hit, but “I Want You” is also a genius slab of knowingly overwrought, sweeping metal balladry whose lyrics take a delicious, twisted about face in the last minute or two.

2) Luca Turilli‘s Rhapsody“Ascending to Infinity”.  Face-melting operatic insanity from the former Rhapsody of Fire guitarist.  The soundtrack to movies not yet made, with a lovely cover of the Alessandro Safina opera/pop crossover hit, “Luna”, which somehow perfectly fits in with the neo-classical influence and metal flourishes evident elsewhere.

3) Epica“Requiem for the Indifferent”.  Confident, seemingly effortlessly melodic symphonic goodness from Simone Simons and co – but with the underpinning, genuinely metallic riffing and musicianship which carves the band out a distinctive place of their own amidst the multitude of European bands playing in a similar musical field.  This is a record which I’ll be returning to repeatedly in the months to come, ahead of the band’s UK tour at the end of 2012.

4) Van Halen“A Different Kind of Truth”.  I was an early doubter of this legendarily fractious band’s ability to bounce back, record a record and tour it without something bad happening.  Thankfully, that doubt is more than eclipsed by the quality of this album – it might be a selection of reworked seventies cuts which never made it onto studio records first time around, but the end release is classic Van Halen.  End of debate, I guess.  The proof’s in the likes of “Blood and Fire”, “She’s The Woman” and “Stay Frosty” – all evidence that the VH you know and love still has it.

Another band I’m seeing live this year – I see a pattern forming…

5) Firewind – “Few Against Many”.  A departure from Firewind’s expected Power Metal sound, introducing 70’s hard rock influences into the mix and doing it without sacrificing the riffs and splendid solos that you want from guitar genius, Gus G.

6) SabatonCarolus Rex.  Sweden’s finest purveyors of fist-pumping, martial tunes about war and gubbins head way back into Swedish history for a tale of divine presumption, flawed military campaigns and good old-fashioned hubris married to some of the best tunes they’ve ever written.  All that and inter-band strife which led to the group splintering and taking on a new rhythm section and guitarists right as the record released.  For my money – currently £5.00 and coffee stamp card for the local java palace – “Lion From The North” is the best damn thing that they’ve recorded yet.  I look forward to seeing Joakim and co. pile drive it into the faces of the faithful at their Sheffield show in November…

7) Lacuna Coil“Dark Adrenaline”.  Many fans were split on the merits of Lacuna Coil’s fifth album, Shallow Life.  I wasn’t one of those who didn’t care for it (There’s some classic tunes on there – “I Won’t Tell You”, “Underdog”, “The Pain”) but I think that most fans will agree that Lacuna Coil’s 2012 record is a genuine monster of an album – not that these things count, but it’s been the highest charting release in their career in many countries.   Sleek, modern production makes the likes of “Against You” and “Tell Me Something More” sound impressively huge and expansive – a progressive and contemporary sounding record which skilfully integrates their electronic underpinnings with fantastic, gut-punching riffs and solos.  Modern Metal for the discerning?  I should say so.

8) Halestorm  –“The Strange Case Of…”.  I’m inclined to say that this is the closest thing that this list will get to provoking controversy, as in some corners this band is very much persona non grata – a radio-friendly US rock quartet led by noted spell-check confoundress, Lzzy Hale whose tunes have been tearing up US radio and sneaking into “Glee”, just for the hell of it.  There’s no doubt that they have their detractors, but I’m not one of them and I’m pretty sure that this record is a quantum jump forward from their debut album.

That wasn’t a terrible record by any sensible application of the term, but it pales in comparison to this record – go and listen to “American Boys” or “I Miss The Misery” and be hooked by the riffs, Lzzy’s voice – which goes from zero to ‘whisky-soaked, bar-room fight starting hellion’ in five seconds flat.    Not Metal, but bloody magnificent.

9) Diabulus in Musica“The Wanderer”.  This appallingly photogenic band of Spanish symphonic metallers are one of the few bands with the ‘beauty & the beast’ vocal divergence that I can get behind without feeling slightly as though I’m being growled and simpered at by a sugar-deprived Cookie Monster and his mate, Dame Olivia Von Divason.  The symphonic synths, galloping guitars and dark operatic vocals on “Ex Nihilo” make for some of my favourite tunes of the year – in fact, it may be my favourite trad metal song of 2012.  UK shows, please!

10) End of September – Self-titled.  One of the bands that I’ve discovered through a review in the UK’s “Power Play” rock magazine, and a genuinely nice surprise.  Hailing from Sweden and straddling the middle ground between Delain, contemporary Within Temptation and, say, Kamelot, End of September have a female vocalist in Elin Redin who doesn’t go for operatic flourishes but a soulful, distinctive and plaintive tone which serves the band excellently.  If you love your rock big, dramatic but not veering into the full-on metal attack of many groups in this top ten, End of September are a band that you’ll definitely want to listen out for.  Their single “Isolated” is a great indicator of their sound – if you like that, you’ll love their album.

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A Music Addict Writes…

A pox on Amazon and the cheap CD sellers who reside therein – a pox, I tells ye!

In  the first couple of weeks of the month, your humble blogger has found himself purchasing these fine examples of metallic riffery…

The first RoF album that I bought this month…

…and the second.

Inspired by watching last year’s doc about his life, “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” 

I’m seeing ’em in September, Greece’s power metal riffsmiths, Firewind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s a lot of stuff to wrap my ears around, let me tell you.  The Ozzy best-of, particularly, is a sizeable beast, reflecting a large swathe of his solo career, from the eighties to his “Down to Earth” album from the early noughties.  And as the caption suggests, my purchase was motivated by it being super-cheap and fresh in my mind after watching the “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” documentary when it was televised on the UK’s BBC Four Arts channel last week.  A great film, too, if you haven’t seen it – it puts the double O in some kind of context for people who thought that they had a handle on him and for those who were only familiar with the rough edges smoothed off version depicted in “The Osbournes” reality series.

I’m also getting a head-start on Firewind’s back catalogue before going to see their gig in Sheffield in September – their album Allegiance is also on the way, and they’ve been in fairly heavy rotation on my Spotify for the last couple of weeks.

I’m sure that this isn’t the end of my musical acquisition spree this month – much to the lamentation of my delightful better half, who’s going to have to use the D.I.Y. side of her brain to figure out some storage solutions quick smart, lest we be drowned in a sea of power metal cd’s…

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Power Metal Album Artwork Meltdown – Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – “Ascending to Infinity”

Image

How’s THAT for a slice of absolute nerdy awesome?

Formerly with Italian neo-classical, gloriously hatstand, cinematic metal merchants Rhapsody of Fire, Luca Turilli is now doing his own thing with his own outfit, Rhapsody, and blimey,  if he hasn’t delivered one of my favourite records of 2012.  Bravo, Maestro!

Oddly enough, I’ve only heard bits of Turilli’s former band (which is weird, as their brand of ultra-nerdy, movie soundtrack, classically influenced, deeply European metal is very much my kind of music), so this album was my first real introduction to what Turilli can do with choirs, metal instrumentation, grandiose storytelling concepts, admirably straight-faced voice overs and the proverbial kitchen sink.

Favourite songs on the record so far – the lovely ballad “Luna”, “Dark Fate of Atlantis” (so gloriously O.T.T!), “Clash of the Titans” and “Tormento e Passione”, but I predict that this is one of those records where you end up having a new favourite song each time that you listen to it.

Not an album for fans of subtlety, metalcore, or songs which get to the chorus promptly, but very much a record to cherish if you have any love in your heart for preposterous prog, virtuoso instrumental solos, tunes which sound as if they should be the soundtrack to a mega-budget Epic Fantasy movie (it certainly does the business if you’re reading any of Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s ‘Shadows of the Apt’ series) and grandiose musical ambition.

I suspect that Luca Turilli doesn’t entirely inhabit this rather dull plane of existence in which we find ourselves and I’m quite delighted that he’s making this kind of wholly unfashionable and blissfully bonkers metal.

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Cinematic Metal – The Rockening!

Inspired by posts on Steff Metal’s blog – go there, it’s good readings – I find myself in a mood to ponder on why films so infrequently manage to make such a bad job of incorporating Metal and Rock, both as soundtrack fodder and subject material.

Party Time! Excellent!

Contrary to popular belief, Metal fans love documentaries like “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” and “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” or comedies like “This Is Spinal Tap”, and relish comedies such as “Wayne’s World” or “Airheads”.

This film rocks, eh?

There’s the love of the music, which is key – anything which depicts the culture that you love is open to a fair and open-eyed viewing by any fan of rock/metal, as mainstream exposure to our musical genre of choice has been traditionally limited, tucked away in the corners of the TV schedules or just plain blocked from view. Provided that you’re not completely taking the mickey, most rock fans are more than happy to check out popular culture which celebrates the music and if they do so, count on having a fan for life, as Metal/Rock fans are only rivalled by SF/Fantasy/Horror fans in their loyalty towards things which they love.

The flip-side of that loyalty, of course, is that Rock fans are remarkably belligerent towards something they once adored if they perceive it to have done the unthinkable and ‘sold-out’ – woe betide you if you get on the right side of a slighted Metal Head.

What about films, though, which can claimed as true to the spirit of rock, even if they don’t necessarily run about on screen sporting a Mastodon shirt, whilst doing a Phil Anselmo impression and humming the riff to “Blackened”.

For one, I’m claiming “Highlander” as a very metal film indeed. Celtic clans kicking seven shades out of each other, Brian May and Queen wailing on the soundtrack, huge bloody swords and bad guy par excellence, the Kurgan, who was very clearly Black Metal before the term was popular – certainly as spiritually metal as Dave Grohl wielding a Gibson Explorer, if not quite as ineffably rock as Lemmy (who, I believe, appears on the periodic table given his concentrated level of Rock).

None more metal. Shame that the sequels were nowhere near as compelling. More absurd, certainly, just not as good.

Anything with Vikings is, of course, a good bet. I’m fond of “The 13th Warrior”, Zemeckis’ motion captured “Beowulf” and Kirk Douglas being super-badassed in “The Vikings”.

Most super hero films tend towards the emo – Shouldn’t Peter Parker be a member of My Chemical Romance, by rights? – so can’t be considered possessed of the middle finger sensibility to convention and taste that the best Metal sub-cultural media provides.

“The Lord of The Rings” trilogy is, in my perfect universe, stripped of Howard Shore’s admittedly wonderful score and instead replaced with wall-to-wall Axxis, Iced Earth and Rhapsody of Fire tunes (anything would be better than the bloody Annie Lennox song on “The Return of The King”). Don’t forget the presence of Christopher Lee in the film – essentially an honorary member of Rhapsody of Fire at this point?

Tonight, we dine in Hull!

“300” – essentially equates to ‘Manowar – the Movie’

All Men Play On Ten - and wear lovely briefs...

Therefore, it is none more metal.

You’ve got to consider the likes of Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s documentary “Paradise Lost” and Tim Hunter’s fictional but wholly convincing tale of small-town disaffection, teenage apathy and horrifically off-hand murder, “River’s Edge” as films which depict the hysterical over-reaction of parents, community groups and organised religion when confronted by The Other in all of it’s forms.

Both are films which seem utterly timeless and are completely metal – replace fans of Metallica and Slayer in the Reagan & Thatcher Eighties with kids today in Dimmu Borgir shirts who listen to Kvelertak and you have stories which are as resonant today as they were on original release.

There’s probably more to come on this subject – I feel myself warming to it, curiously…

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