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Tag: melodic metal

Examining Arion’s last three singles

I didn’t plan to write this post. But as fate willed, Arion released a new track not long ago, and I just had to give it a listen (even though I should be doing something more important, for example calculus).
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, Arion is a melodic power metal band from Finland. The band is formed by a couple of music students not older than a little over 20 years, with exception of their fairly new singer. Their debut album came out three years ago and I remember going nuts over it. It was my second favorite release of 2014 and I knew all the lyrics by heart. You get the idea.
As you might have guessed by the date of their first and latest album release, Arion haven’t managed to put out a new record, but they are making sure that they aren’t forgotten completely. Last year, they released two singles and a brand new one just yesterday. If they will be continuing like that, we will soon know all the songs off the new album without getting a new album … so shall we get into some details about the singles?

First of all, it never bothered me that Arion sounded like well-known and loved bands such as Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, at times even like Children Of Bodom; they somehow managed to create a good mix of these bands and threw in their own style and signature sound. But now, it does bother me that their new tracks increasingly sound like bad copies of their greatest tracks off “Last Of Us”.

“At The Break Of Dawn” (feat. Elize Ryd)
Let’s face it, Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) has collaborated with numerous artists in the rock and metal scene, with pleasant and not so pleasant results. So having Elize sing on your song or album is no guarantee for success (Timo Tolkki, I’m looking at you…). However, in the case of Arion’s first single after their debut album, Elize took this song to the next level. It is fresh, catchy and energetic, the vocal line is absolutely stunning and it still sounds like Arion. I do have to admit that I was a little sad that former singer Viljami Holopainen (who by the way has nothing to do with Tuomas Holopainen) didn’t get to sing this duet with Elize, they would have sounded beautiful together, and he would have probably really loved to collaborate with her.
Note that this song is Arion’s most listened track on Spotify, with over double the amount of listens than their other top tracks. So I am definitely not the only one who thinks that Arion did everything right with this track. I am wondering, though, if Elize was involved in the songwriting process. It would explain why “At The Break Of Dawn” turned out so well…

“Unforgivable”
When this song was released, I listened to it one single time and I thought it was so mediocre that I didn’t feel the urge to listen to it again … ever. I still did for research purposes, though. The vocals are weird and I can’t really see where Arion are going with this song. It is kind of all over the place. Not a hit for me.

“No One Stands In My Way”
So first of all, what we have here is a song title that could easily fit onto an Arch Enemy record. I was expecting a cheesy song title! Alright, it is kind of cheesy, I suppose …
“No One Stands In My Way” starts with a riff that instantly reminded me of the opening riff of “10 Silver Bullets” by Swallow The Sun. Shortly after, you can hear a bass line that is very similar to the one on “Out Of The Ashes” from Arion’s first record. In general, this song sounds like a new version of the aforementioned song, and it is without question that I like “Out Of The Ashes” a lot better.

The weird thing about the last two tracks is that if you start listening at every single instrument individually, you really start questioning what these guys are trying to do. But weirdly enough, the tracks aren’t awful as a whole. I don’t get it.

I am very anxious about the new album, in case it will ever see the light of day. I truly doubt that I will adore it as much as their first album. Without their talented former singer Viljami Holopainen and with their new singer Lassi Vääränen (who is not bad but not exactly outstanding either), the quality of Arion’s songs seems to be decreasing with every new release. Could it be because they are on their own now? It is a known fact in the metal scene that Jani Liimatainen (Cain’s Offering) and Matias Kupiainen (Stratovarius, Arion’s drummer’s elder brother) helped the band in the songwriting process for “Last Of Us”. Are they lost without a little help from some more experienced musicians? Or have they been able to write such hits as “Seven”, “Lost” or “Last Of Us” all on their own, but are somehow drifting into the wrong direction now?

Let’s hope we will find out soon … until then, I will listen to “At The Break Of Dawn” and their first record on repeat.

2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 2

Some of you might look at this short list and ask themselves “Where is all the heavy stuff?”. Well, a little while ago, I introduced part 1 of this series with the fact that I haven’t had much time to listen to a lot of music in 2017 because of different reasons, and when I did, I have almost always been opting for “softer” music.
Two of the next albums have been accompanying me during most parts of this spring – can you guess which ones?

Kobra And The Lotus – Prevail I
Release date:
May 12, 2017
Having always been skeptical about artists who seem self-publicizing or too concerned about their looks, I avoided Kobra And The Lotus for quite some time. Frontwoman Kobra Paige looked as if she could fit into the aforementioned category of musicians; however, after listening to the latest album by the Canadian band, I learned that she is a gifted vocalist and as I watched some interviews with her, I concluded that she has to be a genuinely nice and down-to-earth person. This is probably another typical case of “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Also, shout out to a female in the metal genre that is not a soprano – middle-ranged ladies and altos are way too underrepresented in the metal scene. In a world full of Sharons, Tarjas and Elizes, we need more Kobras!
Prevail I has been growing on me with every new listen: It has the right punch to it despite being full of hits. It also feels a lot fresher than Kobra And The Lotus’ previous releases. Some of the most outstanding songs are the opener “Gotham”, “Triggerpulse” and the semi-ballad “Light Me Up”.

Imminence – This Is Goodbye
Release date:
March 31, 2017
I would say that I normally don’t listen to “this kind” of music, but that would be bullshit. I listen to whatever works for me, and even though this new type of core music is not what I generally opt for, I genuinely enjoy Imminence’s new record This Is Goodbye. It is true that they have changed their style quite drastically; however, both styles, namely classic metal-/deathcore and modern melodic/alternative rock/metal, suit them very well. If this is what a band wants to do, why not?
This Is Goodbye is basically a record that has been written with a broken heart: There are quite a few songs on here that express feelings of sadness, loss, heartbreak, and chagrin. Nonetheless, all tracks are memorable and full of energy.This record soothes the listener and makes him want to party at the same time. “Energetic” is also a term to describe Imminence’s live shows: The Swedes give everything on stage and especially vocalist Eddie Berg is one of the most enthusiastic frontmen I have ever seen live. And to top it all, he even produces all of Imminence’s music videos, and he’s doing a fantastic job.
It is fair to say that I have been playing this record on repeat ever since I bought it at one of their shows as support for annisokay. Also, have I mentioned that these guys are some of the nicest dudes I have ever met? I have never been hugged so much in one single evening. Anyways, if you are into great melodies and don’t mind a little electronic action alongside with guitars and a little cheesiness, give This Is Goodbye a listen. Favorite tracks: “Coming Undone”, “Broken Love” and “Cold As Stone”.

Soen – Lykaia
Release date:
February 3, 2017
When I reviewed this record for progressivemusicplanet.com, I remember liking two songs off Lykaia a lot and the rest sounded rather mediocre to me. Despite that and the fact that Soen sound way too perfect for my taste, I have still being coming back to this album. And now, as I am listening to Lykaia again, I do like it more than a couple of months ago. So that’s why I had to mention it as part of this list. Unmistakably influenced by Opeth and Tool, Soen created an atmospheric and dynamic prog rock record and even added some elements of world music. In my review, I wrote as a conclusion that you should give this record several listens so you could “discover the colors that I tried and failed to find”. Slowly, but steadily, it seems that these so-called colors I tried to find in Lykaia are finally revealing themselves to me.

2017’s most impressive releases so far – Part 1

I will be honest with you: For the most part, the first half of 2017 consisted of me passing a lot of time in the library trying to study, then studying all I should have studied during the last two years in three weeks, exams and sleeping a lot. Apart from that, it also consisted of me singing in several basements and attics, singing on bigger and smaller stages and screaming at people. There has not been much room for even more music otherwise. However, I’ve been catching up and today, I am very happy to present my top picks of 2017 so far. The following releases really impressed me. This does not mean that they will necessarily reappear in my yearly favorites – I can’t know which of these albums I will actually listen to for a longer period of time – but for now, I have really been enjoying them. So if you are still on the hunt for new music, feel free to check out these awesome releases!

Unleash The Archers – Apex
Release date: June 2, 2017
If you are into traditional heavy metal and melodic metal with a little twist, you will adore this record. Unleash The Archers play a very refreshing mix of those genres and aren’t afraid to add some power and folk metal elements on top. The songs on Apex are very well-written, but also catchy enough to remember and to sing along. Apex is also one of those albums that you listen to once and don’t really get excited about it until you listen more closely. I remember not even liking Brittney Slayes’ vocals at the beginning until I realized that she is a total badass and absolutely unique. I already know that this record will appear in my yearly favorites! Some of my favorite tracks are “The Matriarch”, “Cleanse The Bloodlines” and “Apex”.

Slug Comparison – IIa (EP)
Release date: May 27, 2017
I’m a sucker for great vocals, probably because I sing myself. I also really love good, short songs. Sometimes it’s just that simple. And for that, I quite enjoy Slug Comparison’s music, Doug Harrison’s solo project after playing and singing in the progressive rock band Fen. Slug Comparison’s sound is fresh, diverse and innovative, but not too fancy. Additionally, I could probably listen to Harrison’s vocals all day – as a singer, he’s definitely up there with Jim Grey or Tommy Karevik for me. His latest EP, IIa contains three new songs: “Let Some Light”, a beautifully arranged (mostly) acoustic song, the more energetic “Exactly What To Do” and the mellow, almost ballad-like finishing track “Becoming”. IIa still has Slug Comparison’s signature sound while offering something new as compared with the debut album. I’m already looking forward to IIb!

River Black – River Black
Release date: July 7, 2017
River Black was founded by guitarist John Adubato and drummer David Witte of Municipal Waste after the breakup of their former project Burnt By The Sun. River Black is their debut album, and what an album it is! There aren’t many bands out there that combine thrash, death metal and hardcore so effortlessly. Every track is overflowing with energy and fury. However, River Black manage to keep their songs versatile and musically challenging. For example, “#Victim” is a very interesting track when it comes to rhythm. I also love “Jaws” and “Honor” for their hardcore influence. The song “River Black” even contains some string passages, which shows that this band is not afraid of using whatever elements suit their songs best, no matter the genre. If you like classic thrash metal and hardcore, but feel the need to listen a more modern interpretation of these genres, give River Black a try!

That’s about it for now. Keep an eye out for part 2!

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