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Tag Archives: Heavy metal music

Witherscape – The Inheritance

English: Swedish progressive metal band Nighti...

English: Swedish progressive metal band Nightingale live at Nosturi, Helsinki Deutsch: Schwedische Progressive-Metal-Band Nightingale am 20. März 2008 live im Nosturi, Helsinki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He looked at the Facebook page once more. “Witherscape. Hmm. This band could be interesting“, he thought with slightly impatient feelings, looking forward what the album would sound like. He had been a Swanö fan ever since 1995, that’s why when he heard Until Eternity Ends EP and Purgatory Afterglow. Still, anything featuring Dan Swanö hadn’t moved him since Moontower (1999), Swanö’s first and only solo album. Had he become old? Or perhaps sick and tired of the music he used to love in his twenties?

Time passed. Finally, at the end of July, the album arrived in his mailbox. He carefully opened the album and started listening to it. He listened to it for more than a week, always when it was possible to do it.

This is Moontower meets Infernal by Edge of Sanity meets Nightingale meets a new element – that must be Ragnar Widerberg, the other member of Witherscape“, he thought, sighed with relief and smiled again. “Progressive rock, death metal, AOR, melodies, growling vocals and clean vocals put together, nice” were his thoughts when the last song ended once again.

Definitely better than Crimson II that sounded like Swanö was trying to sound too hard like Edge of Sanity“, he pondered and stood up from the chair. “Perhaps I’m not so old after all”. He laughed at the stupid thought and got more coffee.

One thing he had forgotten, or consciously ignored: this was not a Swanö album. It was a Swanö-Widerberg album. Just like Pain may be a Tägtgren band but Hypocrisy is a Tägtgren-Hedlund-Horgh band. “A duo instead a solo album, that’s a good idea. An album that would sound 100% like what Swanö had done before would be quite boring in the end. Refreshing.

He went to bed. The Witherscape songs still kept echoing in his head. “Now, that’s really a good album. Not a masterpiece like Moontower. But still an excellent album.” He fell asleep and had a lot of weird dreams, perhaps Moontower or The Inheritance as the soundtrack of his dreams.

 

 

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Hipster Metal, WTF?

Teen hipster dressed as a carrot

Teen hipster dressed as a carrot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A day off. Nice. Excluding Easter Monday, I can’t remember having a Monday off this year. And I’m supposed to do a lot of things, but after an excellent, yet a bit exhausting weekend recording stuff with Eternal Tears of Sorrow, it’s almost too hard to start doing anything sensible. Cleaning up the apartment, doing the laundry, paying some bills, getting my car repaired, that’s just too much for a day.

Anyway, today I’ve bumped into an interesting term. Hipster metal. WTF is that? There was nothing like that when I was young. Metal was metal, not a very popular rock genre, considered only a phase in a young boy’s life, a slightly unintelligent form of rock’n’roll. The more I read about hipster metal, the more confused I became. What is a hipster, anyway? English isn’t my mother tongue, so I can’t have all the connotations of the word. But in Finnish, we do have the word loaned as “hipsteri” that to me, sounds like a guy or a gal who wants to be more trendy than “the mainstream youth”. Trendy in a very intelligent way, or at least in a way that makes them look smarter. The Finnish definition of “hipsteri” is used to describe “an urban subculture that involves listening to indie rock and wearing middle-class or working class clothes, like grunge rock guys and gals”.

self-portrait of Jonathan Youngblood, illustra...

self-portrait of Jonathan Youngblood, illustrating the concept "hipster" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Still, after reading dozens of pages of hipsters and so-called hipster metal, I’m not any wiser. It could have something to do with my age (as I’m not a teen anymore) or it could have something to do with Finland being the country in the world where metal music is the most mainstream. Metal music is huge here, which is really weird, by the way. So, it could be that we really don’t need “hipster metal” here as metal is “hip” enough here. The best article on hipster metal is probably this, by the way: http://www.examiner.com/metal-music-in-houston/hipster-metal ..

Who (i.e. which bands) play hipster metal, anyways? There are a lot of opinions on this. Sludge metal bands, post-rock black metal bands etc, or so they say. Baroness, Pelican, Alcest? They are mentioned in many blogs and websites. Damnit, I like those bands… Well, I won’t stop listening to them. They have a lot of nice songs, and that’s enough for me. Are they hipster metal or just bands that some hipster metal heads (if there are any) listen to, or claim they listen to. I prefer the latter explanation.

American band Slayer at the Fields of Rock fes...

American band Slayer at the Fields of Rock festival, June 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t mean heavy metal should not evolve. Vice versa. It’s important for metal music to involve. If rock’n’roll hadn’t evolved after the 50s, all rock would still be like “Rock Around the Clock” and “Johnny B Goode“. And if you listen to some new black metal or death metal bands, you can say they sound quite much like the bands in the late 90s, do they? The overall production is naturally much better but when it comes to music, it really hasn’t so much new to offer. Or progressive metal? Has it evolved a lot since ‘Images & Words‘ by Dream Theater? Probably not.

There must be something new happening in the metal underground, though, I think. Just take a look at the most popular metal bands at last.fm. Metallica, System of a Down, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Disturbed, Marilyn Manson, Megadeth, Korn. Most of them were successful in the 90s (or even the 80s) and the rest of them, well, they could have been big in the late 90s, too. Why aren’t there any bands sounding like the 2000s on the list? Are the metal hipsters right after all? Is there metal music that sound like 2012, after all? Has metal music stagnated in the past?

I bet there are people who can answer to these questions. I can’t, not now, anyway. Some day, perhaps.

 
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Posted by on 16.4.2012 in In English, Music

 

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Some Kind of Monster vs. Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Anvil with director Sacha Gervasi and executiv...

Anvil with director Sacha Gervasi and executive producer Rebecca Yeldham, winners at the at Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles, March 5th, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the backstage of heavy metal. It’s made of hard work, extremely good luck, 1% of talent and 0.001% of glamour.

Metallica and Anvil. Some Kind of Monster and Anvil! The Story of Anvil. Two documentaries of two different heavy metal / thrash metal bands. One band made it to the stars in the late 80s and the early 90s, the other band did not.

Lately, I basically had to watch both documentaries, for strange reasons. No, Eternal Tears of Sorrow is not hiring a therapist for 40 000 dollars a month. (But yes, we’ve played at a festival in Romania…) 😀

There are some interesting difference between those bands and documentaries. The members of Anvil still believe in their band – and always have. Meanwhile, Metallica had to hire a therapist to solve their problems, of which some must have been the lack of confidence in the band and in their music. Maybe Anvil have had those problems, too, but there is a main difference between these bands. Anvil is still trying to “make it”, so to say, Metallica has seen it all, done it all, got it all. If you’ve reached your dreams and goals, everything you’ve ever imagined, is there anything you can do anymore?

Cover of "Metallica - Some Kind of Monste...

Cover of Metallica - Some Kind of Monster

Another big theme in both documentaries is aging. Both band consist of middle-aged men who have been playing in heavy metal bands for decades. They aren’t angry 20-year-old boys anymore. Hetfield and Ulrich (of Metallica) are fathers and will turn 50 next year (!). Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (of Anvil) are 56. Is it different to rock at 20 than at 50? What makes you rocking and touring for decades? Is it ridiculous to have a rock’n’roll dream when you’re middle-aged? Does it make you another Spinal Tap?

Even for younger bands, it’s hard to keep up the attitude of an 20-year-old.

You can hear that genuine enthusiasm and innocence on Angels Fall First and Oceanborn, ” Tuomas [Holopainen of Nightwish] sighs [talking about their two first albums]. “The touching naïveté that was lost somewhere along the way. After the success of Oceanborn, that innocence was lost forever.” (Once Upon a Nightwish by Mape Ollila)

Or what about Dream Theater? They had been around for 25 years until a co-founder of the band, Mike Portnoy, decided he didn’t have the spark anymore and asked the band to have a five-year break? The outcome: MP was fired and DT goes on as usual.

So many questions unanswered. But I suppose the ultimate question presented in both documentaries is: What makes an individual love music and his/her band so much he wants to go with it (seemingly) forever? The answer must be: music itself. Otherwise, you are in the wrong track. Despite everything that could happen to a musician or his/her band, music must be the only thing that counts.

(Yeah, and being true to yourself and all that stuff…)

So, are Anvil, Metallica and Spinal Tap (if they were a real band) and their attitude ridiculous or honourable and respectable? Or are the people who are laughing at them deep down just envying them? You know, they’re doing what they want and don’t want to be the “mundane rat race” but have dreams. Even at their age.

 
 

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We’re Gonna Go to China!

Bejing: traditional Chinese theatre

Bejing: traditional Chinese theatre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eternal Tears of Sorrow is having a tour in China. Four gigs. This will be our first tour outside Europe. During the past twelve years, we’ve had live shows in – let me think – twelve countries. Even though touring is always 90% of waiting, it’s always exciting to see new countries and new people.

Twenty years ago (or nineteen years and eleven months ago), when a good friend of mine, Altti Veteläinen and I formed our first metal band, Andromeda, it was far too impossible to imagine we’d be around twenty years later and have live shows as far as in China. No way. We were just so excited to finally get our first demo out. And we got it out, a demo called “The Seven Goddesses of Frost”. Two years later, Andromeda had become Eternal Tears of Sorrow. Five years later, we had our debut album out. Eight years later, we had our first gigs outside Finland.

And still after all these years, it’s kinda funny to get excited about things related to this band.

Ok. Time to get something to eat. There’s going to be more interesting music-related news later this year, and I hope some of them will be about some interesting bands and projects.. Perhaps, maybe, could be, might be? 🙂

 
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Posted by on 21.3.2012 in In English, Music

 

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