Review of ‘Anthem’ by Symfinity


Review by Ryan Murray | February 19, 2021 | Official Facebook

Symfinity, while listed as a symphonic metal band, also have a lot of progressive metal and even some folk/ren faire vibes. This New York City based band is a must see and must hear group! Their website states they have been described as a mix between Jethro Tull and Nightwish, and I completely agree with that. They have a very progressive sound and they pack an even bigger punch live!

In 2018, they opened for Tarja’s return to NYC at The Gramercy. My wife and I had the pleasure of seeing Symfinity play from the front row. While I only had the chance to wave “hi” from a far before the show, I’ve kept in contact with the band ever since and can tell you they are the real deal. Not only are they all super talented, but they are genuinely kind and humble people. During the show, the energy they put out to the crowd is so palpable. Symfinity is the type of band that you can feel the heart behind the music. 

Releasing their album “Anthem” March 2020, Symfinity poured so much of themselves into this 12 track album, and it shows. The band did all of the album by themselves, including the recording, mixing and mastering. Also, the band recorded all of the instruments heard throughout the album live! 

Anthem
This opening track starts out with strings and winds but at :16 seconds when the guitars come in, this honestly gives me a Nirvana vibe. I also love the epic strings/drum part at :48.

The lyrics are limited on this track, but I think it fits perfectly! 

Overall, this song is really arranged well. I really enjoy the live symphonic elements that blend in perfectly with the band. 

“As we search for guiding anthems, aiming at the stars”

To me, this is speaking of our lives. As we seek those things that guide us to our next chapter, that we should always aim high. 

Flipside 
Flipside! Absolutely loved hearing this song played live at the Gramercy! So much energy behind this song. 

This song starts out with a strong symphonic sound with drums holding the groove. Absolutely love the distorted guitars starting at :19.

I also love the dynamics and emotion on this track, both musically and lyrically. 

“Head in the stars, I was fighting all your wars 
Losing grip, you cling and you trip; I’m leaving you behind”

I really love the meaning behind this song. For me, this track talks about moving past friendships that held us back. When others try to hold us back, we need to break free from them and not let them get in the way of our goals and success. Not only that, but also some of those people try to ride the wave of our success.

Dynamite
This track starts out with some heart-pulsing drums and Seann’s vocals. Then Averi “Metalwinds” comes in along with strings and distorted guitars.

The band instruments are blending really well with the symphonic instruments and really compliment each other well. 

Seann’s range is heard really well on this track. 

My favorite part of this track is from 2:53 to the end!

This song, for me, is about all of those backstabbers that we have to deal with throughout our lives. The ones that act so nice to our faces, but then show their real selves when they talk badly about us and try to destroy us with their lies. We need to break free from these people and get away from their destruction. 

“I can handle more than you think. I’m not a prisoner of your destruction.”

The Way I Run From You
This track is a lot of fun and sounds great! It’s probably one of my favorites from the album! The first verse opens with a light intro on keys and flute. When the first verse comes in, strings are added. Seann’s vocals are very light and soft throughout this song, but it shows a lot of depth and emotion! 

Drums come in during the second verse for a bit of a heavier feel along with a stronger symphonic feel. This verse may come as a surprise after hearing the intro and first verse, and the intensity continues building throughout the remainder of the track! 

For me, this song is about escaping the grasps of those that try to hold us back, whether in a personal relationship, toxic family or friends, toxic work environments, and other similar circumstances.

There’s a part of this song that really sticks out to me, both melodically and in lyrical content –

“Never gonna hear you say 
Never gonna find a way 
All I wanna to do right now is 
Run away from you 
All the things you put me through 
So glad that I withdrew 
Don’t you wanna see the way 
I run from you?”

Not only do I love the melody here, but lyrically I relate to this in a strong way. I was stuck in a toxic work environment for many years. This person would constantly stab me in the back by saying one thing to me and another behind my back. They would lie about me behind my back and try to change the perception others had of me. Even though most were smart enough to not believe her lies, it was still painful. This was someone I had known since I was younger, so it made it even more painful. I finally had to withdraw from that environment and it was for the best!

Halfway
This track opens with a beautiful string intro along with vocals a few seconds in. Even though this is a bit of a slower track, the emotions and depth that this song has are very evident.

This song also reaches me on a personal level. For me, this song is about not being happy with where we are in life, feeling as though we haven’t tried as hard as we could to better ourselves, and the anger and resentment we feel within ourselves because we don’t push ourselves farther.

Supernatural
This track is a bit more up beat! It opens with a hard riff, drums flute a mind a strong symphonic backing. Melodically, at times this one reminds me of earlier Lacuna Coil. (Comalies)

This is another song that showcases Seann’s range! 

This song, for me, is about those people and those things that we allow to hold us prisoner and to keep us back from being better than we are. 

Too many times in life we give people and things the authority to hold us prisoner in a cage of fear and regret. This can only happen if we let it, but too many times that’s exactly what we do. 

“Your cold stare is just a reflection 
Of how I feel inside 
The keeper isn’t you; it’s me 
That’s what I find…”

Something Nothing Everything
This track also opens with just strings, but is soon followed by light guitar and vocals. Avery gently sneaks in on the flute just moments before guitars and drums really pick it up.

The vocals stay down more on this track, gently pulling the listener in further and further. There is so much emotion even with the gentler vocals.

This track, for me, is about missed opportunities in relationships. (Not necessarily romantic ones). So many times in life we find ourselves missing out on opportunities because we were distracted by everything going on around us.  

Notion
Guitars start this track out with a sound reminiscent of Creed’s “What If”. This track brings it back lyrically to the chorus of “Flipside” with a very different feel.

At :52 the atmosphere completely changes with winds taking over the lead. 

Days Into Hope
This instrumental track starts out with very emotional and dramatic strings. The melody to this track is really quite beautiful!

At :33, keys take over and are really quite beautiful! This track builds consistently all the way through.

Without Someone
This track opens with a banger of a riff with hard drums. When the vocals come in right after the intro, the guitars and strings take over. 

The vocal melody as well as the musical melody are really catchy.

Finale I: Angel of My Life
The final two tracks broken into two finales. This track is very light and airy all throughout, including vocals. This song is really quite beautiful musically and melodically! 

Lyrically, I can relate to this song all too well. To me, I take this song to be about that moment that someone comes into our lives who completely changes us. I’ve had some weird relationships in the past. Some who wouldn’t stand up for our relationship when it really mattered, others who couldn’t respect my personal beliefs and faith. 

When I met my now wife, that completely changed. She truly is the angel of my life. She helps me to see the best in me when I don’t. She has helped me to believe in true love, seeing past all my faults and building me up to someone better. There will never be any words I can say to thank her for who she is.

Finale II: Sweet and Sour
You couldn’t ask for a more epic track for the final track of this album! This track holds nothing back and is definitely another favorite of mine! I absolutely love the dynamics this track has. Rapid double bass pedals fill the air at :43 seconds in. 

Instrumentally, this track has moments that remind me of Dream Theatre’s “Pull Me Under”.

Verdict
Overall, I have to give this album a 4.9 out of 5! Everything from the vocals, instrumentation, arrangements and song writing is just perfect. What I really enjoy about this band is that I relate to so much of the meaning behind their material, and feel that many will relate as well. If you haven’t heard this band yet, please give “Anthem” a listen, you won’t regret it! I truly can’t wait to be able to see this band live again after the pandemic clears up!

Review of “The Best of Tarja” in Prague


Review by Jessica Clingempeel | 21.01.20 | © Photos & Videos belong to me, J.C.

Tarja had two special shows, one in Romania which was filmed for DVD, and one in Prague which I attended. She played the best of her solo career in new arrangements that would only be heard at these shows. I was looking forward to this show so much wondering what would be in store. Attending the soundcheck gave me a glimpse of what was to come that night and it made me even more anxious.

The show was about 2 hours long and included 16 talented and wonderful musicians. The setlist included songs from every album, some performed many times on stage and some rarities that were missed including Naiad. Tarja has always shown just how professional and dramatic she is at her shows, putting on the best and giving her all to her audience, even when sick or just about burnt out. This was no exception and of all the shows I have been to, this by far was the best.

Every musician gave a flawless performance and you could see that each of them had good chemistry. If there were any mistakes, I did not really notice nor did anyone else as the audience continued to get louder and give more love through each song. The only complaint I would have would be the lighting. The lighting was beautiful, but at times flashed so much that it was hard to see the stage and musicians and was, at times, hurting my eyes.

One of my favourite performances of the night was ‘You and I’ as it is one of my favourite songs by Tarja. Beautifully written and beautifully performed. Other favourites included Love to Hate, Diva, I Feel Immortal, and Tears in Rain which was performed alongside with Clèmentine of Visions of Atlantis. Clèmentine did such an amazing job and her voice matches Tarja’s perfect. Falling Awake was performed with Toni Turunen, Tarja’s younger brother. He has much range in his voice and you can tell music runs through this family’s blood. Naiad was another great performance where all joined in together including Chiara Tricarico. You can see the full setlist below.

You can tell a lot of work was put into these shows and into the new arrangements of these songs. Having seen photos from the show in Romania I cannot wait to have a copy of the DVD in my hands. I only wish the show in Prague was also recorded as the atmosphere of the audience was wonderful, the theatre was beautiful, and the show was just top notch. Maybe they will put some of the fan’s clips onto the DVD as a bonus. 😊

Setlist

Some videos/clips I took

Shadow Play
You and I
Demons in You
Diva
Falling Awake Clip

Tarja on In the Raw


Interview by Jessica Clingempeel | January 15, 2019

With each album, you have grown, gone bigger, and have gotten even better. Did you feel the challenges for this album were easier than previous times or harder?

Through the years I have realised that I have become more relaxed with my album productions. This has to do with the fact that I have already pretty many albums behind me and the work including it’s challenges are not unbearable tasks for me any longer. Of course I am always facing new challenges during songwriting and production, but I am not judging myself as hard as I used to do in the beginning of my career. Experience definitely helps and the confidence I have gained as well, but this didn’t happen overnight. 

The orchestration in this album is beautiful and I can see this entire album being performed with an actual orchestra. Have you had any thoughts of doing something like this?

I have been lucky to work with several symphonic orchestras in my career, so this could be a really nice idea to work on. Anyways, I don’t have any plans for it at the moment.

You had previously stated that this album is the most personal and that you went through some things, such as health-related issues, which led to this album. Would you care to discuss some of those moments and to help listeners understand you and your songs better?

Actually I prefer not to bring these issues to the light of day, yet. The music helped me to overcome some of them and understand myself better, so that’s why I wanted to write about these things on my album, but my personal life belongs to me. 

Was there any one song that you struggled with or did the lyric writing become easy once started?

The lyric writing has never been an easy process for me, nor it was that this time. I had all the doubts of the world around me when I started writing the lyrics, but once I got the first song down, I felt I was ready for the challenge. 

You, along with Alex Scholpp, were the main writers of In the Raw. Did you write with anyone else apart from Alex?

With Alex I wrote actually two songs on the album as I did with Mattias Lindblom. There are other writers involved who had been writing with me along the years. Those are Julian Barrett, Erik Nyholm, James Dooley, Johnny Lee Andrews and Bart Hendrickson.

Spirits of the Sea was dedicated to the crew of ARA San Juan. Have you received any comments from those close to them? Did you personally know any of the families?

No, I haven’t been in touch with the families nor I knew them personally. 

I have read elsewhere that the U.S. may be seeing you again with this album. I know you cannot tell much when it comes to touring but, are there any estimated dates at least?

We are currently and constantly working on the album tours worldwide, so I have my high hopes that I will do at least some shows in US with this album. Thank you for the patience.  

In January you will have two special concerts that will be recorded for a DVD. What was the idea behind doing this and also the guests that were selected to participate?

I am celebrating my 15th year as a solo artist this year, so I thought it could be a nice idea to have a great party with the musicians that have been working and supporting me through these incredible years. I am not planning to do a world tour with this project, but willing these concerts to remain as something very special and unique. There are no invited, guest musicians in these shows, but a complete line up of musicians who are performing all the songs in the show together with me. 

When will we see Outlanders come to life?

Hopefully soon! 🙂 I am recording the last bits and pieces after the best of concerts and my idea is to finish with the production during this spring time. So….I am pretty sure you will be able to hear soon what Torsten and I have been working with during millions of past years. 

—Just a few select questions from some of your USA fan club members—

Luis: How was the orchestral process like for In the Raw? Which orchestra/choir did you use this time or was it all digitally produced orchestral sounds?

There was no live orchestra involved this time on the album, but we used samples. Aren’t they sounding amazing? 🙂

Matt: Will My Winter Storm ever get an anniversary box set release?

We don’t have that release in our plans at the moment, even though it’s a nice idea. 

Shanell: Are there any songs on your list that you would love to do a cover of?

Covering a song is always a huge challenge, because I need to have a reason for doing it. Also in my productions I always want to respect the original song, but at the same time I need to feel the song as one of my own ones, so it is difficult to choose one particular song to cover. I am doing lots of cover songs in other projects of mine, when I sing with the symphonic orchestras for example, so I am not really missing the chance to cover songs for my albums necessarily. But saying all this, maybe you will hear me covering a song for my future record anyways! HA!

Kathleen: What inspires you to write songs? I would love to know what inspired ‘Oasis’ as it is my mother’s favourite song and still calms me today.

Many things are inspiring me to write music. For example my crazy life, things that I explore or experience during my journeys with music and people that I meet with their incredible stories. But also music itself inspires me. For Oasis one of the biggest inspirations was scores/ film music. I wanted to write a song that would make me feel peaceful and calm, no matter there is a storm outside. I am happy to hear that you and your mom can enjoy my song. 

In closing, are there any last words for your fans and readers?

I want to thank you for the love and support. I really hope to get to rock with you soon with my latest record! Thank you for keeping my storm strong. 

With love, Tarja