Australian progressive metal band Voyager have once again bestowed us with a brand new track from their upcoming album Colours in the Sun. The song “Colours” showcases the usual breakdown riffs common in Voyager songs while also introducing heavy synth wave influences alongside the metal portions of the song.
I’ve been listening to Voyager only since their last release The Ghost Mile, however I’ve grown fond of their older albums since then. While The Ghost Mile had a very heavy and collected demeanor to it, this new album seems to be based more on a retro throwback similar to what bands such as Syd Arthur and Nektar are doing, only (of course) heavier.
This upcoming album will likely be relying heavily on this throwback style with metal as an experiment, and I’m hoping that it pays off in the form of a big tour and new proggy songs to sing in the shower.
The music video for the song “Why?” shows a man escaping out of a spaceship that feeds and clothes him in a prison-cell sized room. Once he breaks out, he at some point in the video turns into a colorful human character, growing to a proportion of size that is near impossible, and begins sucking everything into the black hole that had sucked him in almost.
Here’s the thing; Devin Townsend’s newest album Empath was released earlier this year. And I never reviewed it.
If you’re wondering, it was a 10/10 fantastically spectacular album for me. From death screams and growls to Disney’s orchestral cascades, the album has a diverse array of influences, and lyrically is uplifting while also showing us the facades to force others to see us as great.
Across his entire discography, Devin Townsend’s done everything from death metal to progressive metal all the way to the soothing sounds of ambient music. And at this point, it seems as though he’ll never let up in writing a diverse array of music.
Empath encompasses nearly everything great about Devin Townsend, and it’s an amalgamation of various song styles put into one album. Not only that, but it molds together extremely well. There is no one theme on the album barring the lyrics; it simply goes where it needs to be.
The band TOOL recently released Fear Inoculum, their fifth album, on August 30th of this year. At the end of their debut week, it ended up charting on the Billboard 200 at number 1. And of course, as is typical of most rock bands that chart on the Billboard (and, in general, sell a lot of copies of an album), people are quick to say that “Rock music isn’t dead” or “The Billboard finally has real music charting”.
Sabaton’s 2019 album The Great War is their most polished and well written record. It also just-so-happens to be their worst. Objectively, that’s not saying a lot. Since their debut album, Primo Victoria, their music has been a ride through all the great battles of history, from ancient Greece to the modern day. And as they’ve progressed, their albums have gotten more and more defined. Where 2008’s The Art of War was based on the book of the same name by Sun Tzu, All the way up to The Last Stand, they’ve consistently created concept albums representing all eras of warfare and the consequences, heroes, and horrors of each era of war and battle. They’ve covered everything from the Battle of Rorke’s Drift in the song “Rorke’s Drift” (duh), where 150 British soldiers shot down and defended themselves from thousands of Zulu warriors. They’ve covered the Battle of Thermopylae in the song “Sparta”, where 7,000 Spartans held off a Persian force of 70,000 to 300,000 men. Essentially, any battle or war, they’ve likely put out a heavy metal anthem about it.
With The Great War, while they’ve definitely written some stellar music and portrayed World War I with a mixture of hell and the heroes that come from it, the music and concept feels too forced to be released at this point in time. In previous albums, they definitely had a grip on the concepts and battles, but the music reflected each battle or war in a different light. “Night Witches” sounded vastly different from “Inmate 4859” or “To Hell and Back” on the album Heroes. Even on the album The Art of War, Sabaton varied the themes of each song both lyrically and instrumentally. “Ghost Division”, about Panzer tanks in World War II, sounded different than “Panzerkampf” which, although focusing on Germany’s invasion of Russia, painted a bleak portrait of the coming invasion, where Russia would lose nearly 11% of its population and Germany would make the sames mistakes Napoleon did in his invasion of Russia (you don’t attack Russia nearing winter!).
In The Great War, Sabaton focuses on World War I battles and biographies only such as Lawrence of Arabia in “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, Alvin York in “82nd All the Way”, the first significant tank battles on “The Future of Warfare”, and then end of the war and the coming future of warfare in the song “The End of the War to End all Wars”. I began to realize that my issue with the album is that not only are the song titles egregiously long, the music itself is very formulaic. It’s as if they took their filler songs (which are usually good alongside their new types of songs) and made a whole album out of that.
The drums, like most modern metal mixes nowadays, are too quiet in the mix to be impactful. The guitars and synthesizers battle each other, although they’ve consistently improved this aspect of their production through continuous and minuet changes. The bass still provides a good sound, although it’s not perfect, which is fine.
Four songs stood out to me, and even then, one of them stood out the most because it isn’t even a metal song. “In Flander’s Field” sings of the facade of beauty as poppies and birds fly overhead, below them the dead soldiers. The song actually copies the poem directly from John McCrae. Now, they did borrow a poem for the song “To Hell and Back”, but they didn’t use the poem word for word. They rearranged the lines somewhat and even gave an autobiographical account of the man they were singing about, Audie Murphy. The other three songs I thought stood out were “Fields of Verdun”, “End of the War to End All Wars”, and “A Ghost in the Trenches”. These four songs had not just the ferocity of a band on warfare fire, but also of a band looking to create an album in memory of those who gave all in that first World War.
I really dislike writing about Sabaton like this, as they’ve been a band that I’ve enjoyed listening to since 2012 when I first heard “Ghost Division” in one of those random warfare music videos from all those years ago. But here we are. And here I am. While I appreciate the attention to detail towards the instrumental components of each song and the willingness to write music about war-like topics in great length without mentioning the blood and gore of mutilated carcasses (because I imagine we all know that war is a bloody activity already), the music for The Great War feels incredibly forced. I’m hoping that, should they ever choose to write another concept album about a single war, they shorten their song titles and pay more attention to mixing each song up with both smooth and jolting transitions, like they did on the song “Bismarck”, released earlier this year.
Still, the album wasn’t a complete waste, and I did enjoy listening to it as a whole. Simply that, as far as individual songs go, no one metal song has its own identity.
Written by vocalist Hansi Kursch and guitarist Andre Olbrich, power metal wizards and newly anointed holders of the flames of The Dark Lands, Blind Guardian has released a new song today along with a lyric video. Earlier this year, the band explained that they had been interested in releasing an orchestral album since they had started using those same elements in their metal albums, so sometime in the 1990’s. Of course, the idea simmered, and only recently has work on the concept reached full fruition.
In fact, since 1998’s Nightfall in Middle Earth, (though not starting at that album) Blind Guardian has continuously grown the orchestral aspects of their albums. 2002’s Night at the Opera featured “And Then There was Silence”, a 14 minute long behemoth of various heavy and orchestral instruments played together and separately while backing Hansi’s extensive vocals. While 2006’s A Twist in the Myth featured less of the orchestral instruments, 2010’s At the Edge of Time and 2015’s Beyond the Red Mirror featured more prominent use of the movie-like scores, featuring timpani’s, bells, strings, and the like alongside traditional heavy metal instruments such as guitar, drums, and bass.
The upcoming record Legacy of the Dark Lands seeks to use an orchestra solely to its full potential alongside Hansi’s epic vocals. And together, with the grandeur of each song, the album features an original concept which serves as the musical sequel to Die Dunklen Lande, a novel by German author Markus Heitz.
The album, Legacy of the Dark Lands, will be released on November 1st of this year.
Releases from bands such as Twilight Force, Freedom Call, Rhapsody of Fire, Avantasia, Hammerfall, and Sabaton might overshadow the release of Ancient Empire’s 2019 album Wings of the Fallen, but make no mistake, this is power metal at its finest. The chugging flight of riffs, fiery rhythms and epic guitar and vocal harmonies spread the entirety of the album like a nice layer of . Even after the first listen, the music keeps getting better.
NorthTale is a recently formed power metal super group that signed to Nuclear Blast records in 2018. The band consists of members Bill Hudson (ex-Cellador, ex-Power Quest), Patrick Johansson (drummer, Sabaton fill-in, G3 drummer and W.A.S.P.), Christian Eriksson (Ex-Twilight Force), Mikael Planefeldt and Jimmy Pitts.