Voyager – Colours in the Sun Review

While Voyager’s 2017 album Ghost Mile represented a stark and haunting record including bleak piano melodies throughout and having themes of darkness, the night, and a ghost mile journey, their 2019 album Colours in the Sun represents a brighter and more varied album.

Containing elements of 80s synthesizers, the chugging djentleness of progressive metal riffs and the tight grooves of a solid bass and drums funk foundation, Voyager finds themselves on a trajectory similar to a lot of heavy metal bands who, in more recent years, have resorted to adding an increasing number of electronic instrumentation and often completely doing away with the guitar on their records. The difference here, obviously, is that rather than doing away with the chugging riffs and opting for a solely throwback 80s electronic album, Voyager uses their increased synthesizers to enhance or color the tracks on the album, leading to an ideal album that is equal parts heavy and equal parts melodic.

The song “Colours” uses the interesting synthesizer sounds to great effect. As the synths are the opener to the first song on the album, as the band is introduced the song quickly turns into something entirely different. The chorus in particular is an interestingly melodic, haunting, and beautiful score, with the chorus having a gradual crescendo “Leave / Leave all / Leave now / Leave I.” It’s an altogether straightforward Voyager song with the extra seasoning of a ideal synth.

While “Colours” sounds like Voyager with an 80s synthesizer, “Brightstar” is the most direct sound Voyager gets on this album, and similarly to “Colours”, it contains the equal bits of melody and progressive riffage that Voyager is known for.

Probably the best new type of song on the album, “Saccharine Dream” is also a departure from their typical grooves, focusing instead on an entirely funkified rhythm that’s more of a creamy soup texture than a meat and potatoes kind. Yes, the song is akin to great food.

Alas, “Water over the Bridge” and “Sign of the Times” are the heaviest tracks on the album. While they sound similar to old Voyager, “Water over the Bridge” has darker and angrier riffs while “Sign of the Times” has a more subtle feel, similar to the lyrics and its themes revolving around the title. “Severomance, which actually comes after “Colours”, is a track in similar fashion, with eerie vocals during the verse laid over a harmonic, Arabic sounding, churned out riff.

Voyager’s brand of “pop progressive power metal” is an equally new and old beast, and as they progress, the band is taking steps to incorporate new sounds and create new sonic landscapes for their listeners. While “Colours” is the cream of the pop, “Water over the Bridge” is the hammer smashing the bowl, the album itself creating new sounds for Voyager while also leaving room for further and further experimentation and growth.

Score: 8.5/10

Ancient Empire’s Other World Album Review (2016)

Ancient Empire is a band I discovered late last year, yet it took me another six months to actually start listening to the band. When I did, however, I was not surprised that the epic space concept albums would pull me in like a black hole of our galaxy.

In this album’s story, unlike their most recent release, an alien civilization has invaded Earth. It’s not just humanity leaving Earth to survive a cataclysmic war or disaster of some type. Instead, humanity leaves the Earth to escape the onslaught of extraterrestrial invasion. Lines like “A blackened silence replaces everyday / Funeral shroud for the Mother we betray” incite a kind of emotional fear while what little of humanity can escape manages to go to space to find a new home. Eventually, after years of attempting to settle space and another planet (“No place for man among the star / No solace in the cold of space”), the Empire of Man returns to Earth and repels the alien invaders, eventually taking back the “ashes” of the old human civilization.

The concept definitely takes nods from Rush’s 21 minute epic “2112”. While not as poetic as the lyrics of Neil Peart, each song on Other World definitely carries a great deal of weight in terms of progressing the concept.

However, while the lyrics and the story is fun to follow along with and interpret, the real bread and butter of the album lies in the instrumentation. Guitars and vocals carry each song, with harmonized choruses, melodic guitar solos and harmonies, and an abundance of catchy guitar riffs slay each song into the next dimension. Imagine listening to an Iron Maiden record, a Rush record, and a Dio record all in one? Put them altogether and you have Ancient Empire.

With the always prevalent cheesiness of power metal, it’s difficult to create music that transcends that cheesiness on the way to grandiosity, with quality riffs, vocals, and lyrics to go along with it. However, Ancient Empire manages to achieve this with this 2016 album. Other World and Wings of the Fallen manages to deliver on the promise of epic power metal with a straightforward riffing edge to round out the lasers coming from the incoming return of the Human Empire.

Score: 9.5/10

Sabaton: The Great War Review

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.

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Bottle: Pilgrim, A Journey of One Man’s Loss

I feel that, as individuals, we often tend to get caught up in the stresses and anxieties of our daily lives. Whether we’ve lost a family member, gotten a hard-earned raise at work, or sank deep into the depths of depression, there’s an alluring feeling that nothing matters when we do anything with our lives, good or bad. Things in life just seem to flow from one event to the next, the current stopped only by an underwater boulder that catches us by our swimsuit and rips apart the fabric upon which we’re swimming.

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Wintersun’s The Forest Seasons Album Review (Retrospective)

Wintersun’s third album The Forest Seasons was released July 21st, 2017 after a five year lull in time from when Time I was released. Given the expectation that Time II would be released instead, concept album The Forest Seasons is musically a change of direction for the band, although it still retains the orchestrations from their previous album. The album goes through each of the four seasons, bringing a musical mood and theme to each one. The Forest Seasons also has a vastly improved organic sound when it comes to mixing orchestrations right beside and underneath the layers of droning guitar riffs, artificial drums (which still fit the nature of the album), tight bass lines and vocals that range from heroic to terrifying and include an ensemble of singers on “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)”.

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Shazam! Review (Spoilers)

DC Comics for the last six years has been known for having various pitfalls within its EU movies, and after the critically acclaimed Dark Knight series, the release of Man of Steel began a 2010s trend of movies with dark, neutral, horribly bad undertones that continued through Zack Snyder’s reign over the movies. Superheroes yelling “Yeah!” and “Alright” (looking at you Aquaman) clearly hasn’t been the best idea for DC to keep following up on. Now, however, their movies are truly starting to find their own identity, one separate from Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Batman V. Superman movies and that can rival even Marvel’s EU going into the next generation of superhero movies. The switch that’s helping DC? Giving each new movie an equal mixture of its own identity while creating a fun and comedic atmosphere and having the dark undertones from previous movies (being an orphan looks like it’d suck, to be honest).

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The First Space Colony: Boston’s Debut Album Review

Boston’s debut album, released in 1976, would eventually go on to sell 25 million copies worldwide.

After 43 years of traveling through space at the speed of light, the crew and I aboard the SS ‘Boston’ have finally reached our destination; a brand new planet for humanity to colonize. Along the way, we each brought some of our favorite records to listen to. I decided to bring Boston’s self-titled debut, and with all the out-of-this-world noises that songwriter Tom Scholz strings along on guitar with the soothing and conversely epic melodies and harmonies of singer Brad Delp, I couldn’t have made a better choice.

The spaceship finally touched down on the planet about ten minutes ago. A brief amount of turbulence and we could finally have some Peace of Mind. I keep constantly wondering at what we’ll find on this new planet. A semi-intelligent extraterrestrial species? New lifeforms? What new challenges we’ll encounter? As I can see, the planet is rich with lush green forestry, a gorgeous blue sky, scattered clouds and a whole lot of room for human colonization. Maybe we could finally build our sky structures, arrow-shaped objects that point and expand upwards for gravitational and life-support purposes.

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