Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Savatage's "Believe" and Cyrcle IX's cover of "Believe"

Today I'm going to do a little bit of a different post.  Today I'm featuring the same song by the original artist and a cover by another artist.  The song is "Believe" by Savatage and I can honestly say this is my all time favourite song.  Released on Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera, "Believe" is the album closer and what a closer it is.  It is the greatest, most epic power ballad ever written.  The lyrics are poignant and uplifting and Chris Oliva's guitar solo at the end is complex in its layered simplicity bringing the song (and album) to a grandiose end.  There is really not much else I can say.  Go ahead and give it a listen and tell me you're not moved at least a little bit.

The cover version of "Believe" I'm featuring is by the band Cyrcle IX off the Savatage Tribute album Return Of The Mountain King.  Oh sure, there is also the Trans-Siberian Orchestra version, but it is too simplified and loses some of the power.  However, Cyrcle IX's version, although simplified, is chalked full of passion and conviction.  The vocalist Pete Wallace is no Jon Oliva, but he doesn't try to be.  What he does do is sing his damned heart out, to the point his voice almost breaks.  Guitarist Mike Hollis does a fine job working his way through the solo at the end.  Certainly not as epic as the original, but far superior to the TSO version.  This is the way a cover song should be done.  Cyrcle IX made it their own, but did not sacrifice the integrity of the original.  Check it out here Cyrcle IX cover of "Believe" youtube

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sacred Steel "Dark Forces Lead Me To The Brimstone Gate"

Today's post is on Sacred Steel's "Dark Forces Lead Me To The Brimstone Gate" off their Bloodlust concept album.  A rather lengthy title, but this 4 minute ditty is a metal assault on your senses.  I've reviewed the album previously on this blog, and I can say that pretty much any song on it would make this list, but that would be silly, so I chose my favourite.

"Dark Forces ..." starts off with a rapid fire thrash like riff and a hammering drum beat that screams metal.  If you don't have the horns raised withing the first 10 sec, your arms must be broken.  Sacred Steel are German Power Metal/ Speed Metal band with an emphasis on straight up heavy metal.  These guys don't dink around.  They aren't of the Rhapsody of Fire or Freedom Call variety of power metal.

"Dark Forces ..." sinks it's claws into you with a hungry aggression that is infectious.  The vocals of Gerrit P. Mutz are unique in that his German accent is fairly noticeable and some might find it distracting, but I actually quite like his mid range screech.  This song incorporates some well placed Death Metal growls which adds a real sinister feel, especially around the 2:30 mark.

Go on and have a listen.  Just remember that even if you're lead to the brimstone gate, you don't have to go through it.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Blind Guardian "Nightfall"

Today's post is on a lighter note.  Blind Guardian are a German Power Metal band and rather a long running one too.  Forming in the mid 80's Blind Guardian were more speed metal then power, but come the album Nightfall In Middle Earth the band were mixing the styles quite nicely and here they enhanced their sound with a folk element.

As the album title suggests, this album is based around JRR Tolkien's epic series.  However, this is not a Lord of The Rings concept album, this is based around The Silmarillion.  The collection of tales that narrates the history of Middle-Earth.  Published posthumously by his son, The Silmarillion is a hard read as it is a collection of works mostly incomplete.  Although this a difficult and often times boring read, it makes for a killer concept album.

The album is my favourite by Blind Guardian and when I caught then on tour when they first came to Canada the majority of the material they played was from this album.  It was awesome!  The song I chose to feature, while not my favourite, is the title track "Nightfall".  The song has a very folky, yet theatrical sound all while remaining metal.

The guitar melodies are folky and run throughout the song and the keyboards add a majestic atmospheric all the while vocalist Hansi Kursch brings a theatrical performance which turns this song from progressive to epic.  The song creeps in (like nightfall ... as the lyrics suggest) and builds into a crescendo of a chorus.  My favourite part is the bridge around 2:30 minute mark leading into the solo.  The song lacks a traditional structure, yet does not feel jarring or odd.  It flows remarkably smoothly and gently creeps away again.

Have a listen.  This is the Middle-Earth I want to lose myself in.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Megadeth's "Go To Hell" and Timeless Miracle's "The Devil"

This post I've decided to feature 2 songs about Hell.  That's right.  Megadeth's brilliant "Go To Hell" from the Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack.  From there we'll meet "The Devil".  A song on Timeless Miracle's only album, the infectious Into The Enchanted Chamber.

In the movie Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Bill and Ted go to Hell.  The original title of the film was Bill & Ted Go to Hell.  The soundtrack is actually really quite good, with tons of killer songs on it.  The best tune is Megadeth's "Go To Hell".  This is probably my favourite Megadeth song as well and it's unfortunate it wasn't a single.  It could have easily fit on Countdown to Extinction.  It was released on a compilation album of other soundtrack songs and covers called Hidden Treasures. 

Anywho, onto the tune.  The song waxes poetic on the perils of sin.  The old, we reap what we sow.  The song starts off with a dark slow thrash riff and the child's prayer "Now I lay me down to Sleep ..." reminiscent of Metallica's "Enter Sandman".  Then the song breaks into a killer thrash riff and some of Mustaine's most venomous vocal deliveries.  Throw in the smoking guitar solos and we have one hell of a bleak vision of the afterlife's darker side. 

If you've found yourself in Hell, you're bound to meet the Devil.  Timeless Miracle's song "The Devil" tells the tale of Lucifer's fall, but from his own point of view.  The Devil doesn't think he did anything wrong.  Lyrically it's clever, but musically this song is Symphonic Power Metal done right.  It's of the more upbeat power metal variety with folky elements not unlike Alestorm, but less piratey.

The song kicks off with a folky melody, the verse's plod along to showcase the lyrics.  But the real treat here is the uber catchy chorus.  I challenge anyone to try and not sing along to this chorus.  Vocalist Mikael Holst has a deliciously wonderful voice and the band has a fantastic knack for memorable melodies.

I'm not sure how I stumbled across this band, but their lone album Into The Enchanted Chamber is Symphonic Power Metal at its finest.  It will stick with you long after it's over.  The album is hard to fine too.  Used copies on eBay and Amazon are going upwards of $130.00 dollars.  I think I'll wait for the inevitable reissue to get my copy.  But I am glad to have heard this album.  Go on and give the Devil his due.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Living Sacrifice "Enthroned '98"

The song I'm showcasing today is from Christian Metal Legends Living Sacrifice and it's their song "Enthroned'98".  Not to be confused with their song Enthroned off of the album "Nonexistent".  I'm talking about the re-recorded version included on the Living Sacrifice Best of album "In Memoriam".

That's right.  The band re-recorded one of their songs (which is not unusual, Suicidal Tendencies has re-recorded half their catalogue).  The difference here is this re-recorded version is VASTLY superior to the original.

Living Sacrifice started off as a solid thrash band on their self-titled debut, but on their follow up,"Nonexistent", the band down-tuned and brought in a more death metal oriented sound.  This was all great except original vocalist Darren Johnson was just simply awful.  He was decent as a thrash vocalist, but his meager attempt at death metal is painful to listen to.  He was just to muffled with no clarity and sounded like he was inhaling all the vocals.  Completely ruins the whole album and their next one "Inhabit".

He left the band after "Inhabit" and what a benefit that was.  Living Sacrifice retained the death metal elements, with some thrash, but mostly the band shifted into Metalcore territory.  Good Metalcore territory.  However, let me get back to the song being featured.

During the "Reborn" recording sessions, the band re-recorded the song "Enthroned" with founding guitarist Bruce Fitzhugh now on vocals.  The original version is almost forgetable, but when I heard this rare new version on "In Memoriam" I was blown away.  The song is faster, with a heavier feel and Bruce's vocalists are powerful.  The song retains it's thrashy/death metal feel for the first minute before slipping into a slow atmospheric interlude for 45sec and then crushing us with a heavier then sin breakdown (the way breakdowns should be done) and finally blasting through to the end of the song leaving no head unbanged.

Go ahead and have a listen and see if this song doesn't renew your faith in heavy metal!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sepultura's "Territory"

Today is just a one off post showcasing Sepultura's song "Territory".  I remember seeing this video as a teenager as I was just starting to explore heavy metal.  I thought this song was brutal then and 20 years later, this song is still one of my all time favourite heavy metal tunes.

This song was a single of their Chaos AD album (which in itself is a massive slab of sheer heaviness as virtually every song just crushes).  Sepultura at this point were branching out from their earlier death metal / thrash roots into a hardcore metal sound with a Brazilian flavour.

"Territory" is a fine example of that.  This song has a hardcore sensibility with a killer thrashy breakdown.  Mix that with a solid tribal rhythm and socially relevant lyrics and that's a recipe for a great heavy metal tune.  If you're not banging your head by the 2:30 minute mark, you clearly have no neck.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Slechtvalk - The Spoils of Treason & Twin Obscenity - The Usurper's Throne

Here is another double header of awesome heavy metal songs.  Today has a Viking Metal theme.  First off is Christian Black Metal band Slechtvalk and their Viking metal anthem "The Spoils of Treason".  Slechtvalk are essentially a melodic black metal band with Viking tendencies lyrically and some musically.  These two styles can be somewhat inter-changable.  What these two songs have in common is lyrical subject matter.  The perils of war during the middle ages.

Slechtvalk's "The Spoils of Treason" is a powerfully poignant tale of People's tired of war and go off in search of independence, only to become slave's to those whose help they sought for protection.  The melodic tremolo picking mixed with the atmospheric keyboards and Shamgar's haunting raspy vocals just oozes sorrow.  You can feel the pain these folk have suffered.  When the chorus comes in with it's deceivingly uplifting choirs is when the crushing sense of hopelessness washes over you.  Avery powerful tune.

The next song is Twin Obscenity's "The Usurper's Throne".  This is a slower melodic tune the reeks of melancholy.  The tale of a kingdom invaded and an old king dethroned.  The keyboards are haunting, the guitars are dark and the vocals are sickly.  This is just a downright bleek song.  Twin Obscenity are by far one of the most under-rated viking metal bands around, but alas they are no more.