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 ‘Prison of Emotions’ by Julian’s Lullaby


Review by Ryan Murray | 4/2/2020

Julian’s Lullaby, a symphonic rock band from Athens, Greece, released their 2nd album “Prisoner of Emotions” in 2017. I had never heard of this band before, but really enjoyed listening to this album, especially the instrumentation.  

This band has a nice mix of symphonic rock, power rock, folk and even an ethereal sound at times. I really enjoy the arrangement of strings throughout these tracks! Lullaby’s vocals are very nice overall, and at times even more classical. Saddler’s vocals give me a vibe that mixes between Type O Negative and Iced Earth. Lullaby and Saddler really seem to compliment each other nicely.

Angel’s East

This opening track had a really nice intro which I really like a lot. I almost feel as though this intro belongs in a film score. The drums sort of remind me of the intro to Tarja’s “Victim of Ritual”, only slower. Mixed between drums, strings and synth, it builds a nice atmosphere before the guitars coming roaring in at 1:14. The power rock guitars throughout the song blend really nicely with the strings/synth.

There’s a really nice keyboard interlude at 3:34 and an awesome guitar solo at 3:52, both of which really add a lot to this track! The strings at the end of this interlude section are beautiful and really sound great before leading into another lead solo which is also great! 

Curse of Gods
Not my favorite song. This song brings it down just a bit tempo wise, but still has strong instrumentation throughout. This song sounds like it’s from an epic role playing video game battle scene. This song definitely gives off an Iced Earth vibe musically. 

Death Angel
The intro comes off as power rock, but then there is some tight double bass kicks with very ethereal sounding vocals from Lullaby. Her voice is light and airy at first, but of course kicks up as the track progresses.
I REALLY like the strings on this track. 

This song is a bit slower, and with that you get a bit more of a glimpse into these two singers’ emotions.

At 3:33 it backs down into an acoustic feel with strings and Lullaby’s voice really shines from here to the end.

Domino
This is probably one of my favorite tracks on the album! It starts with a really strong, epic string/synth intro. Then the drums join in followed by power guitars. Lullaby’s voice feels a bit more classical in this song, and has some moments of early Tarja vibes (from early Nightwish).  

I really enjoy the vocals on this track. Lullaby and Saddler  seem to really click together more so on this song. Not to say they don’t in other songs, but I really enjoy the vocals on this song a lot. 

Eyes of Gray
Time to bring it down a few notches. This song starts off with an acoustic guitar and strings. There are definitely some folk vibes/melodies here, and it’s a nice change! 

Lullaby’s vocals join in with some power chords on the guitar, but nothing too heavy. 

Saddler joins in at 1:40 as the track picks up a bit more, but just when you think it’s really gonna kick it up, it pulls back down again. I really like the dynamic that creates. 

Hanging Crown
So on this one, I have a hard time not hearing Lindsey Stirling with the string part during the intro. Then the guitars kick in which kicks this one up a notch. The bass is quite noticeable on this one too.
This song hears Saddler opening up and at 1:08 Lullaby joins in. The strings are really upbeat and uplifting throughout this entire track. There is also a lot of noticeable double bass on this one which sounds really cool with everything else going on.

A string solo kicks in at 2:53 with some chugging guitars in the background. Again, the violin playing really sounds like Lindsey Stirling at times and this is another time when it sounds like her.

Hell’s Door
Another one of my favorite tracks due to the middle of the song. This track starts off with a hard guitar riff and sees Saddler opening lyrically with Lullaby over him with very light and airy, non lyrical singing. Lullaby using a more classical sound again this time around and it suits this track nicely. Saddler sounds very Type O Negative like on this one.

At 2:33 everything backs down and we hear what almost sounds like a chariot trotting by, with a very ethereal sounding instrumental. Then Lullaby and Saddler have a bit of a duet with very laid back and light vocals. Guitars kick back in around 4:46.
 
Towards the end at 6:45 a sweet guitar solo comes in. The track begins to fade with a double bass kick and some pinch harmonics. 

Prisoner of Emotions
The title track has an intro that I really like. It starts off with the creaking of a door which builds right into a string tremolo and choir of non lyrical vocals. Drums and guitars join in with Lullaby’s ethereal non lyrical vocals, and then back out to leave just strings with keyboard. This song feels laid back overall, but with a lot of emotion. 

Then a surprise. At 4:45 the outro comes in the form of a hard guitar riff and an awesome guitar solo. 

Single Thought
I think this is my top favorite track on this album. This is another song that has some nice folk melodies. The acoustic guitar and strings really add to the nice and uplifting feel to this song. 
It starts out with a nice acoustic guitar in 6/8. Once the verse hits, we have a time change to 4/4. 

This song just sees Lullaby’s vocals with backing choir-like non lyrical vocals. Both sound really beautiful. The string parts throughout this whole song are simply beautiful. 

Starbringer
A strong, upbeat finish to a surprise of an album. Keys and guitars are the main part of the intro, with Saddler kicking off the verse, but Lullaby joins in shortly after.

The strings in the background throughout this track really add a different level to the music. There is a lot of double bass through this song as well which really pushes it along. 

A sweeping, in your face guitar solo comes in at 2:29 which kicks the song to a completely different level.

The song comes back down with keys and strings and Lullaby’s light voice to close it out.

Overall, this album really surprised me. On first listen of a few random tracks, I didn’t think I’d like it too much, but then I gave it a listen from beginning to end and it really surprised me. There’s actually a lot going on musically between the strings, keys, synth, and the rest of the band. As you listen to it more and more, you start to hear different levels of what is going on and it really was enjoyable. I’m always a sucker for strings, but not just random strings here and there. The string arrangements on this whole album, in my humble opinion, are VERY nicely, and none of it comes across as superfluous. 

I’d give this album a 4.0 out of 5.0 rating. If you haven’t heard it yet, please give “Prisoner of Emotions” a listen, you won’t be sorry!

You can follow the band on Facebook.

A Review of Tarja’s 2019 Festival Shows


Review by Jessica Clingempeel | October 17, 2019

This year I attended three festivals that Tarja participated in. The first was Chania Rock Festival in Crete; the second was Z7 in Switzerland; and the last was with Evanescence in Trnava, Slovakia. Every show she played songs from her previous album ‘The Shadow Self’ and some oldies, along with Dead Promises from her, then, soon to be released album, ‘In the Raw’.

I will start with the show in Crete. This was my first time travelling to Greece, beautiful country, just too damn hot! The flight from Athens to Crete was delayed, but that was okay as I got to hang out with Kevin Chown, former bass player for Tarja, and my awesome boyfriend. We were on the same flight to Crete with Kev. The festival consisted of two nights with about five bands each. I was only there for Tarja and Demons & Wizards. Tarja performed the first night and was the last act to close the day with and what a way to end the day. Despite the heat and having chosen to wear all leather, she kicked ass and the audience gave much love to her and the band. At the end I went backstage where I met with Tarja and even she admitted wearing her outfit wasn’t the brightest idea and that it was “SO HOT”.

The bands prior to her set were not all bad. Uli John Roth was up right before her and while I enjoyed his guitar playing, he could choose a better singer, or just stick with solo guitar playing (Uli even watched Tarja’s entire set and after went to meet with her.) Tarja was definitely the highlight of the first night though. The second night ended with Demons & Wizards. You’re seeing that the big acts were the ones to end the nights. 😉 We watched their show from a higher spot on an old ruin. What a great view that was, not only of the band, but of the sea as well. I recommend this area to all future participants of this festival. Tarja and Demons & Wizards both get five out of five at this festival.

Honourable mentions: Carthagods, Rotting Christ, and Uli John Roth.

Next round, where I travelled solo, was Pratteln, Switzerland. Again, beautiful country, but very expensive. This is also where the trip ended up with me in the hospital having emergency surgery for an ovarian torsion. Kudos to the nurses and doctors who took care of me. They were very nice and very professional.

Serious Black was on first, not my favourite, but not all bad either. Do not put this band off, give them a listen first. Next up was Rage feat. Lingua Mortis Orchestra. They were a better act and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Finally, the main act I was there for, again, Tarja. The setlist was pretty much the same as Chania, but still a damn good show. It was more energetic, to me anyways, than the previous, that may have been due to it being less hot. Lol Another five star performance.

Last, but not least, the show with Evanescence in Slovakia. Thankfully the weather held up most of the day as rain was in the forecast. Another country I have never been to and another one that was enjoyed. First band on was Veridia. I did not care for this band, at all. To me, it felt like watching Britney Spears trying to sing metal. It just did not work, but a lot of people in the crowd seem to enjoy them and they are definitely energetic, but I will pass.

Tarja was not the main act for tonight, as Evanescence was, however Tarja was definitely the highlight. I am not saying this because I am a huge Tarja fan, but because it is fact. I have also been a huge Evanescence fan (early era). This was the greatest show of the year by Tarja, for me. It marked the last show for The Shadow Self tour and sadly was also the end of a chapter for one member, Kevin Chown. He will be greatly missed, but you can still see him play with Bach as he begins his next chapter.

Every member in Tarja’s band puts their whole heart into their performance. There were some sound issues, but they kept giving the crowd their all despite the fact. I got the chance to see Julian Barrett perform for the first time as well alongside Tarja as he was filling in for Alex. Damn good guitarist.

Evanescence did not disappoint either as Amy Lee went back to her roots and what made the band, THE BAND. The setlist was full of oldies and played just as the albums were recorded. I have to give them five stars as well, but I did not stay for the full set. We left early as Kevin Chown invited me back to his hotel to hang for a bit, along with the rest of the band. Tarja had already turned devices off at this point and went to sleep. The band are very cool people, we had a chat about different foods which started with Christian (keyboard) asking me if I tried Haggis yet since I was visiting Scotland for six months (lol), hockey, and just life in general.

Tarja shows are always amazing to watch, very energetic, and you can tell the support and love the band have for one another. I definitely recommend everyone to attend one, or many, of her concerts. You will not be disappointed. Not only, but every show I got to meet some friends for the first time and other wonderful people. Stay tune for my review of Tarja’s Christmas concerts in Finland.

Dork mention: I love how Tarja notices my short ass in the crowd every time and she will smile, point, and wave to me. 🙂

All photos are my property. Please credit when sharing.
© Jessica Clingempeel

Review of Lacuna Coil’s ‘Black Anima’ by Jade


Review by Jade | October 16, 2019

POWERHOUSE. There is no other word to describe BLACK ANIMA, the ninth studio album by Italian metal group LACUNA COIL. Over twenty year in the scene has led them to what is arguably the strongest album in their career. Musically, lyrically, vocally, BLACK ANIMA delivers the sound that old school Coilers have been waiting for since Comalies. But does this album compare to Comalies? Not in the least, and they show us that it’s perfectly okay.

ANIMA NERA

I LIKE TO SUFFOCATE IN ALL MY MEMORIES UNTIL I CANNOT BREATHE

Black Anima’s prologue consists of vocals from Cristina Scabbia like we’ve never heard. Whether it be computer effects or her ability to change her voice into something even more unique than it already is, it doesn’t matter; she proves once again how far her vocal abilities have stretched over the years. Anima Nera speaks of the heavy darkness within – a short song of resignation to the empty emotions that frequently follow trauma or intense pain. In a way, this album follows the ‘backwards’ pattern – Anima Nera could have been the Outro and Black Anima could have been the prologue. And, of course, we get a taste of the Italian we’ve been so hoping to hear since Broken Crown Halo.

COSA NE RIMANE DELLA MIA ANIMA NERA?

SWORD OF ANGER

WE ARE THE ANIMA

Sword of Anger opens full swing with the growling vocals of Andrea Ferro. An enthusiastic mix of all instruments make this song a blazing follow up to Anima Nera. Lyrically, we feel the power of Andrea’s delivered verses, believing damn well that they’ve never lost their way and taking Cristina’s word when she says there’s more to them than we will ever see. Maki and Diego absolutely kill it on bass and guitar. There is no question that Diego really got to shine on this album, and even less question that Maki wrote this song with passion and a desire to try something new. 

WE DON’T HEED YOU – THE SWORD OF ANGER WILL CUT IN THE DEEP

Newcomer Richard Meiz, now drummer of the band, gets a chance to show off his skills in Sword of Anger as well. He doesn’t introduce himself in small doses. With Lacuna Coil, when you’re new, you come out swinging, and the drums in this song do exactly that.

One of the main highlights: Cristina singing underneath Andrea’s growls, the two contrasting vocals blending beautifully to make a melodic tune to match the heaviness.

BEYOND THE SURFACE WE DIG IN THE DEEP – THERE’S MORE TO US THAN YOU WILL EVER SEE

RECKLESS

TO HELL WITH ALL THE INNOCENCE

Reckless is the second single released before Black Anima takes the world by storm. Cristina shines brightly in this one, controlling most of the song with the occasional background growl by Andrea, and showing listeners once more just how far her vocal abilities have come. Reckless is the dance track of the album – heavy and single-worthy, yet still dark and fitting for the overall atmosphere of the album. 

I HAVE NEVER LEARNED TO COMPROMISE – I NEED TO FEEL ALIVE

Synths and guitars tear up the track in the best way, the bass and drums filling in the space nicely. The guitar solo is one major highlight – Diego has absolutely been a great addition to the band since he joined.

KEEP THE MADNESS ENDLESS

LAYERS OF TIME 

I LIVE THE LIFE I LEFT BEHIND

Layers of Time was the first single introduced to us to represent Black Anima. Even though it’s the fourth song on the album, it was the first song we got to hear as a collective group of Coilers, and the song is explosive. Andrea once again comes out with growls and aggressive vocals, taking the lead in this song with more vocal time than Cristina while still allowing both to shine. 

I THINK I’VE LOST THE STORYLINE

Guitars and bass in Layers of Time roar into existence here and don’t back down. There is no such thing as a breather. This lends in a perfect way to the lyrical meaning of the song, an overall meaning conveying, in their own words: Our road is paved with pain, the past we can’t rewind. Layers of Time was the perfect introduction to Black Anima, and nestles itself as the fourth track to remind us that it isn’t the only song on the album.

TWISTING, TURNING, THROUGH THE BAPTISM OF FIRE

APOCALYPSE

WHILE YOU PRAY, WE DON’T CARE

Apocalypse flows with more melodic emotion than the songs prior, still heavy but allowing us a short break from Andrea’s growls and allowing us a glimpse of his cleaner vocals. We have a more gothic feel here, darkness coating the tone and bringing a strong lyrical message. Apocalypse is, without a doubt, one of the most impactful songs of the album lyrically. We can feel the pain and emotion in Cristina’s voice as she delivers her pieces, and we truly feel for her. We relate, and we feel.

WE START A REVOLUTION AND CELEBRATE YOUR LIES

Most surprisingly, soaring vocals blend well with the bass tracks here. Maki (bass) has arranged this to ensure the bass beats the message behind Cristina’s vocals home. An impressive use of instrumental, without a doubt. 

YOU’RE FAR FROM ABSOLUTION

NOW OR NEVER

I MADE MY WAY BACK TO THE LIVING WHEN I WAS ALREADY DEAD

In Now or Never, we’re swept back into the fast, aggressive beats of guitars and drums and Andrea’s forceful vocals. Bold riffs and messages give a nod to Delirium but still sits very comfortably on Black Anima. 

Taking a step away from ‘professional reviewer’ stance and slipping into hardcore Coiler mode: this is the song that Cristina Scabbia comes very close to growling in. Forceful, almost shouted vocals in one verse suddenly highlight her in a different view, and every Cristina-diehard is going to have their moment of squealing or their moment of confusion and hoping that doesn’t happen again. The force lends to the song in a perfect way, however, and just a little more of a push would have shown us a first from Miss Scabbia.

THERE’S NO MERCY FOR THE INNOCENT

UNDER THE SURFACE

ALL YOUR SENSES ARE COMPELLED TO LIE

Cristina leads this song once again, a solid track to sit at the almost-halfway point of the album. More fascinating synths lead into powerful guitars, leading into Andrea kicking off the vocals with passion. Under the Surface is definitely the most lyrically heavy of the album, not necessarily in emotion or message, but in the sheer amount of singing that goes on through the track lasting just over four minutes. 

EVERYTHING FEELS PERFECT WHEN YOU’RE SPINNING LIES

This song takes hold and doesn’t let go. From start to finish, a musical storm, no break. One of the most powerful songs in terms of instruments without a doubt. 

ILLUSIONS AND EMOTIONS ARE FOR SALE

VENEFICIUM

NOVA VIS AD DIEM NOVUM NASCITUR

Musically, Veneficium is the most powerful song on the album. A blend of heavy guitar and bass riffs mixed with the kind of emotional blast we got from Apocalypse, Veneficium blows it out of the water as one of the best songs on the album. The piece experiments with symphonic metal and use of the Latin language, and takes listeners on a dark journey through the entire process.

HERE I COME TO SHOW YOU ALL THE WOUNDS INSIDE MY HEART

Andrea shows off his clean vocals in Veneficium, proving he can still sing just as much as he can growl. The lyrics are powerful and moving. Overall, a strong track that stands up and shouts, “I’M HERE AND I’M AMAZING!”

I’M AFRAID TO SEE WHAT I BECAME – I KNOW THAT IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

THE END IS ALL I CAN SEE

THE PAIN IS ALMOST LIKE SALVATION

Tension rises slowly in The End is All I Can See, but it is, admittedly, the weakest track on the album. The lyrics are strong and the music is haunting, but it drones as opposed to putting up the fight the rest of the album does. It still takes a stand and earns a place on the album. Why? Because with just a little more effort, it could have been a blazing song.

NOW PLEASE ANSWER MY PRAYERS CAUSE THE END IS ALL I CAN SEE

SAVE ME

I CAN’T HELP IT, I’M BREAKING DOWN

There is no denying that the last single released before the album dropped would be a fan favorite. Save Me stands up for every single one of us who struggle with pain, depression, mental instability – anything that may cut us short in life. More melodic than dark and heavy, we can hear the pain in Cristina’s voice once more. The mantra of this song, presented by the band themselves: IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY.

Musically, another powerful song that uses bass behind vocals to really hit home a message. We hear you, guys – it really is okay to not be okay.

STAND HERE BEGGING FOR HELP – THE ONLY HUMANS WALKING THROUGH THIS HELL

BLACK ANIMA

I’M LONGING FOR THE RAIN TO WASH IT ALL AWAY

The final track hits us right where all final tracks should. A strong closer with heavy goth vibes and soaring instruments (EVERYONE shines here), Black Anima bears down and reminds us exactly why we listen to Lacuna Coil. By the time the song closes, Coilers sit and wallow in the realization that this, indeed, is the end of another fantastic album – what is probably the band’s best album in nearly twenty two years.

I CAN SEE YOUR ANIMA

Review of Tarja’s ‘Dead Promises’ Single


Several people wanted to write a review on this single for the webzine so you will be reading several here. Mine is first, enjoy and be sure to listen to the song (video at bottom, along with a sample of the album version feat. Bjorn from Soilwork) and order this album. Out Aug. 30th, 2019!

All Photography © Tim Tronckoe
Review © Jessica Clingempeel | CEO of Ethereal Metal Webzine | Tarja's USA Admin 

Dead Promises, given the context of the lyrics, has no bearings on Tarja’s promise to deliver a heavier and darker album. This track promises to deliver and succeed! The beginning starts out heavy, gets heavier in the middle, and ends heavy. The instrumentation meshes well with the melodic and emotional context of Tarja’s voice, making this song an outstanding first taste of what I assume will be the album to beat this year.

Instead of focusing on the musical elements of this album, since we already have several reviews, I will focus on the lyrical context and what this song means to me. A little bit of a personal story if you will.

We have all been given a dead promise or two or a thousand. Countries have been given many from the “leaders”. We have all fallen victim to such promises. I was the victim for most of my life, since early childhood. I was given broken promises by my father almost every time I would see him. The promise of love, safety and protection, being there for me. All those promises were dead, were empty. I never saw much love, I never had protection, he was barely ever there, and with him I experienced all kinds of abuse, if not by the hands of him, then by the women and their grown children he would take me around.

I was given dead promises by my ex. The relationship was nothing but control, fights, etc. One-sided, always about him, I was last. These two are just small examples of what I endured in life. Those men were the reasonings for my disbelief in love, my struggles with any kind of relationships (friendship or intimate), and my trust and hatred for humanity that kept getting worse. I had put up a wall and thought nothing or no one would ever get close to and hurt me again as long as I was in charge and kept that wall up. It was just recently I have learned to love again. I met a man that I never thought existed. He has been kind, loving, and every promise so far has been kept and fulfilled. I tore my wall down and gave him the chance. If I hadn’t I would not have ever seen true love.

This song challenges everyone and is a lesson for those of us who have been lied to and hurt. We have all fallen victim to someone and/or something. We can either keep the walls we have built up or we can tear them down, forgive those who hurt us (for us), and trust again. Otherwise we will never know what love is, a good life, nor ever see our dreams become reality. As always, Tarja has hit a personal level for me. She has been my earthly saviour, apart from my mother, because if it were not for her and her music, I would be dead today. I was on the verge of suicide so many times, use to self-harm, pull hair out, scream, cry, hate the world, but it was her music that saved me. This is why I am so loyal to this woman. This new album, after only one song, proves to be another fit for me on a personal and emotional level. As always Tarja, thank you. *

Review © China Tosin | Contributor of Ethereal Metal Webzine  

In short: Very guitar-based, riff-based, with a very important bitter message that hit the hearts of those who habitually break promises or have their promises let down, Tarja’s out there to retribute!

This song’s message seems to be about empty promises in relationships or family conflicts that are not fulfilled and it keeps adding up the pain when the promises keep creating expectations of improvement but not much effort in achieving. However, it can likely to apply outside interpersonal context too, such as unfulfilled political hopes, corporate failure in compensating their services. The line “Dead promises, games you play will kill your dreams…” sends a strong message about those who give empty promises will actually be the ones hurting, too. The vocals are pretty minimal compared to Tarja’s other songs that are a bit more complex, but executed it well, kept it concise, catchy, and powerful.

The music is on the heavier and faster side of her discography, very guitar-based and riff-based. The lead riffs, the main heavy riffs, and choice of sound give the song a “bitter” and “dry” feeling which fits the message. No solo in heavier Tarja songs had not ever been a bad thing, as this song gives you a varied and harmonized version of the lead riff near the end.

The dynamics of the song are very well plotted, as there are parts that the lead riffs playing alone giving excitement and build up, things get heavy on the main riffs and chorus. In the verses are laid down with less distorted guitar picking and bass guitar on higher register makes the song fit the “dry” feeling. *

Review © Jade | Reviewer of Ethereal Metal Webzine

Dead Promises, the first track released to the public from Tarja Turunen’s new album “In The Raw”, is a thunderous song with plenty of guitar and a traditional hard-rock feel. In The Raw is definitely an album title this song belongs on – the music and lyrics combined make for a very naked song, aggressive and not even having to put up a fight to get to the front of the musical line and be noticed. Tarja stated that this new album was going to be darker and heavier than previous albums, and she definitely delivers here.

Turunen’s powerful vocals shine brightly on this track, but the missing element was a heavier, darker vocal – a growl, if you will. From my quick review of the Album Version preview of Dead Promises, this is solved with the addition of Björn “Speed” Strid of SOILWORK. While the single version is a fantastic preview, the album version seems like it’s going to have that one extra element needed to make a perfect heavy metal song. (Though it’s been proven over and over again that Tarja Turunen shines beautifully on her own.)

Overall, Dead Promises was a perfect peek into what’s to come. A crowd pleaser to say the least (as it won a Metal Hammer poll for best new music in metal for the week of its release by a LANDSLIDE), I can say this much: we’re all dying to see it live.

Review © Zach Brehany | Contributor of Ethereal Metal Webzine

If this new single shows us everything, it looks like her promise of a Winter Storm is about to be unleashed with fury, anger, and the darkest corner of herself as a person. We’ve seen this transformation of a classical singer with an exceptional voice to her now being a powerhouse or a vocalist. And yet, years later, we are drawn back into her spell.

The last hard rock album she put out, The Shadow Self, was all about the darker Tarja and the sides of her that are deranged, emotional, and hidden beneath scars of damage she as endured as a performer. If this song is any indication of what the album will entell, we are about to start seeing the wounds uncovered and bloody. 

“Dead Promises” lyrically are as deep as any other song she has put out (brings to mind the lyrics to “I Walk Alone”, “Dark Star”, “Never Enough”, and “Innocence”). They are all recollections of her past with people, theorizing that they deal with Nightwish. When looked at it from that angle, this is a natural progression of herself as an artist: she is moving on, but won’t forget what happened to her for her to be where she is at now. 
The song does create a strong sense of sorrow when you are left thinking about all the promises people have made but keep on breaking. The message, I believe, is that we need to move on from all of that. Those that have betrayed us will no longer be able to continue living their best life because they built there’s off of lying, betrayals, and promises that amount to nothing. We will always have to deal with people like that, but they are not our problem; we don’t have the right to give ourselves to those kinds of people because they will only hold us back. Tarja is moving on from the past and that is what she is telling us to do. 

The instrumentation for this track is what threw me off the most. It feels like she is also moving away from her usual pure orchestration that was what started her career with both her Christmas album “Breath From Heaven*” and “My Winter Storm” and going back to the hard rock elements from “What Lies Beneath” and “Colours in the Dark”. This song isn’t about sounding as sweeping and operatic, but more in your face and out in the open. It’s an interesting choice, but I am left wondering how the rest of the album will play out.

This is a good look into the album and a song I’m sure will be a fan favorite. We are seeing Tarja transform more into the queen of hard rock that we know her as and it seems there is no way to go back. She’s hear to sucker punch us into looking deeper in ourselves and we can only hope that emotionally we will handle what it is like to strip ourselves from what we see and embrace what we find in the raw.  *

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Tarja Graces New York City


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Review by Jessica Clingempeel
Admin of Winter Storm USA | Ethereal Metal Webzine
9/22/2018

September 9th, 2018 will be a night that will never be forgotten in New York City. It was a long wait for the return of one of the most influential female singers in the metal world today, but the wait was well worth it.

First, the opening band, Symfinity. Seann, the vocalist, came out to greet me as we were waiting outside, and he is an awesome guy. I had the pleasure of getting an interview with this band a few weeks prior to the show and every musician seem to be very humble and down-to-earth. This is a band that you need to check out and see live. So many musicians and instruments, one must wonder, how can they even keep up with everything though. Haha! Seriously though, don’t miss them and don’t be afraid to walk up to them and start a conversation, very nice people!

Symfinity performed several songs, including their new single “Dynamite”. My favourite, however, would have to be “Everything I know Explodes”. I could be biased though as this was one of the first songs I heard from this band and instantly loved.

After Symfinity, fans patiently waited for Tarja to grace the stage. The intro started, and people began packing into the venue like sardines desperate to get as close to the stage as possible. I am a 5’0, tiny woman, GIVE ME SOME SPACE PEOPLE! (haha) Easy to get lost here…moving on..

No Bitter End begins, and screams filled the room as Tarja comes on and begins what is going to be one hell of a show. Though in the beginning there were some tech issues with the mic, Tarja handled it like a champ. Ok, it was cute. 😉 Considering this woman is a powerhouse, a microphone wasn’t even needed.

The setlist contained 15 songs, which includes songs from every solo album and a Nightwish medley.  Every set was a flawless performance, with the acoustic being breathtaking. A standout performance, of course, was ‘Diva’. Tarja comes out wearing, now dubbed the ‘Diva’ crown, that was given to her in Brazil. The entire performance was superb. Though I wish the setlist had included ‘Supremacy’ and ‘Too Many’ I wasn’t disappointed at all. The entire show was AMAZING. Every musician, including Symfinity, gave their all and were flawless. I don’t think anyone left the venue that night dissatisfied, and if they did, I did not notice it. All I saw was passion from the fans and from the musicians.

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© Photo: Jessica Clingempeel

Of course, the show was ended with the traditional bow and “HIT SONG”. Several people were waiting for that moment and Tarja headbanging through severe neck pain should prove she is passionate for music and for her fans. Please Tarja, look after yourself and as much as we love to see you head bang, no need to make yourself hurt and sick for us! We will love you no matter what. 😊

Hopefully there will be a return from Tarja soon (soon, soon, not Tarja’s usage of soon)  because my ass will definitely be on another eight-hour train ride from Virginia to New York, and standing another 4 to 5 hours in the chilly, rainy weather to be there. Yes, she is that worth it people! Being a fan for over 15 years should prove that.

For those who did not get the chance to meet Tarja yet, your time will come, and the wait will be worth it. Tarja is a very sweet woman and she tries to give time to everyone.

Mad props to Eleonora (she knows who she is.) The rudeness of some people and frustrations you have to put up with, you have balls! Thanks! Thanks to the rest of the crew and band for everything. ❤

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© Photo: Jessica Clingempeel
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© Video: Jessica Clingempeel