Category: metal

My Review of Epica + Blaaykum’s concert in Lebanon (Byblos Festival 2.8.2014)

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After a long wait for the symphonic metal fans in general in Lebanon, and Epica fans in particular, the day finally arrived. On august 2 of 2014, at 8:30 pm, the opening band Blaakyum showed up on the stage. They started with a song called “Ceasefire”, and from the title we can tell that it is about what is going on currently in the region, and after it the lead singer of Blaakyum called for a minute of silence for all the victims of terrorism and Israeli attacks in the Arab world. Then, despite the technical problems, Blaakyum didn’t disappoint the audience, providing an outstanding performance which restores faith in the metal scene in Lebanon, along with their stage presence and interaction with the audience (especially when they asked for a mosh pit). Not to forget their unique sound which mixes thrash metal sounds with traditional Arabic melodies.
After the opening band’s performance was over, the fans waited with playback music in the background, then a playback of Originem – the intro track of Epica’s latest album The Quantum Enigma. Then, Epica finally appeared, starting with another track from their latest masterpiece, The Second Stone, followed by The Essence of Silence and Victims of Contigency!

The Quantum Enigma perfectly presents the essence of Epica’s musical style – the angelic/demonic balance between Simone Simons’ pure vocals which blew the fans away during the show, and Mark Jansen’s brutal vocals in harmony with orchestral and heavy melodies creating a bombastic performance during the whole show.
But the setlist did not consist only of tracks from The Quantum Enigma. Unleashed from Design Your Universe followed, then their most successful single Storm The Sorrow from Requiem For The Indifferent. The show continued with Chemical Insomnia, followed by the epic masterpiece from Design Your Universe – Kingdom of Heaven part 1, then Natural Corruption from The Quantum Enigma, after it the first track from The Divine Conspiracy during the show – The Obsessive Devotion. After a heavy track such as The Obsessive Devotion, Epica returned to their symphonic roots of their first album with The Phantom Agony. Despite the track being symphonic and orchestral, the band gave it a dance-y edge in some parts during the performance, but this didn’t affect its quality in a negative way, instead, it made the performance even more interesting!

Epica couldn’t play in an Arab country without performing Sancta Terra with its distinctive oriental melody, and of course Cry For The Moon – the classic (demanded by the fans) which proved that Simone’s operatic vocals keep getting better, though she went off tune sometimes during some tracks. Also the band showed that they do not only seek to provide a great show for the fans, but they also enjoy what they are doing and have some fun on stage and interact with the fans. First, Simone asked the fans to repeat the chorus of Cry For The Moon after her, then she introduced each of the band members by their names and the instruments they play instead of singing the original lyrics. Cry For The Moon ended with a drum solo from Arien. The show ended by Unchain Utopia and Consign To Oblivion.

During the whole performance, Simone and Mark stayed in touch with the fans and the fans responding by chanting “Epica! Epica! Epica!” while the band said that the Lebanese crowd was the best crowd, and promised to return. The stage effects, the uplifting sound, the great stage presence and overall performance of the Epica members made the show the most epic metal concert which Lebanese metalheads ever had.
Thanks to Epica, Blaakyum and Byblos Festival for the great work and the unforgettable night !

( image above found on glamroz )

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My Review of Nightwish’s “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” (2015)

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This is the second review I write about anything so if it’s unprofessional then be easy on me, I’m still inexperienced in those things…

This album differs from the previous Nightwish albums, not just in being their first studio album which features the new vocalist Floor Jansen, but also in its theme. Nightwish drifted away from their previous fantasy/pagan/mythology atmosphere in favor of a theme which is new to them: Evolution. Whether they started meddling with scientific issues to become another Epica, or because Tuomas reached the peak of his creativity in Imaginaerum and the movie and he wanted something new; the question is open.

The album opens with one of its best tracks in my opinion, Shudder Before The Beautiful. it is powerful, symphonic, and reminds of the era when Tarja Turunen was the vocalist of Nightwish, especially in the album Once.

The next track, Weak Fantasy, is the typical song which you would expect to get when you have Floor Jansen as a vocalist, though it has some symphonic elements.

Elan, in my opinion, is the weakest track in this album. It sounds like an awkward mix between Evanescence/Delain and Eluveitie, and being a major folk metal fan, the only thing that is good about it is its folk-y/Celtic sound in my opinion. It is a single after all, so what to expect?  Yours Is An Empty Hope is almost the same type as Weak Fantasy; the difference is that it sounds like a song from Dark Passion Play or Imaginaerum sung by Floor Jansen instead of the other ex-vocalist Anette Olzon

Our Decades In The Sun is a ballad, it never harms to have one or two ballads in a symphonic metal album to change the mood a bit. My Walden (named after a book by Henry David Thoreau) is special with its distinctive Celtic sound, and shows, like some tracks on Imaginaerum, what Troy Donockley has really added to Nightwish.

The title track is another symphonic song, and Edema-Ruh is “slower” than the rest (except the ballad) but still it’s not bad. After it comes Alpenglow, another one of my favorites; it starts with the most beautiful intro on the whole album, and I really like Floor’s vocals in it!

The Eyes of Sharbat Gula is an instrumental prelude to the last track, The Greatest Show on Earth; aka The “Richest” Song on The Album! It contains everything; growls, clean vocals, and even Floor’s operatic abilities are clear! However, there are two things which the longest song in the history of Nightwish could be better without. First, the animal sounds. Okay, we got it Nightwish, the theme is evolution, no need for jungle sounds to ruin the most beautiful song on the album. Second, Richard Dawkins. Though he did not say in this song anything anti-religious as I was worried, still… call me paranoid, but the fact that Nightwish featured him on the album could mean that they approve of everything which he had said/done, including the anti-religious prejudice and this is disappointing. Plus, the song could be way shorter without the jungle noise and Mr. Dawkins recitals. They are repeating the Song of Myself issue of producing an “long, epic song” where almost half of it is poem recitals not singing.

Not a bad album overall, but Nightwish can do much better. 5.5/10.