Interview with Eric Dow of Helsott

Interview by Jessica Clingempeel | April 4, 2020 | Band Facebook

What is the meaning of Helsott and why was that name chosen for the band?

Helsott means “Fatal Illness”, or “Hel’s Journey”. It just seemed very fitting for us at the time.

Was that the first idea for a name?

Yeah pretty much. There might have been some names thrown out there but nothing we grabbed a hold of. As soon as we came across Helsott we knew that was it.

Prior to Wacken 2019, I have never heard of the band, but watched you guys perform, front row, with my boyfriend. Loved the show, loved the music. Can you give me a little background of the band and how you guys formed?

Thank you for checking out our set. The band was formed by myself and my brother Mark. Cooper joined the band in 2011 and that has been the nucleus of the band. We have had many different lineup changes over the past 10 years. Our older brother was the original bass player. Mikey Muller was the longest standing bass player in the band but now he is our sound guy and our current bass player is a Doctor that runs a hospital in Michigan. We have a new lead guitar player Peter Truax.

Helsott is listed as Pagan Metal, and of course there are some Viking influences there as well. Do any of the members practice Paganism or have any Nordic ancestry?

We are all of the Earth, no need to practice anything. Mark and I have Norwegian and Danish ancestry. I would suspect that Pete is either Norse or Swedish.

When writing lyrics, what drives the inspiration and who is the lyricist of the band?

I am the main lyricist. Always glad for input or help from the other members but 95% of the lyrics are written by me. I am inspired by history and every day normal life. I never know when an idea will hit me.

Were there any challenges when writing and recording ‘Slaves and Gods’ and is there anything you would do differently?

Yeah our guitar player at the time chose to quit the band via text message day 1 of recording that album. We didn’t use any of his songs so Cooper and I put some stuff together on the spot and brought back some old songs that had never made an album yet and then we asked a bunch of our friends to help us finish the album. It ended up being a much better record than if we recorded it with the old guitar player but the stress at the time was overwhelming at times. Thanks to Arkona, Kevin Storm, TrollfesT, Morten Muller, Beorn Friedrichson, Elvenking, Hunter Havokk, Ryker Grey, and Dom Cray for their help.

You guys are based in California, how have the locals taken to your music?

We definitely feel the love from the SoCal metal community. The feeling is very mutual!

Has it been hard to get out there in the USA in general being that this country is not big on metal, particularly Pagan Metal?

It is very hard. We do our best and that’s all we can ask of ourselves.

Peter Truax was recently announced as the new guitarist. How long have you guys known each other and what made him decide to join the Helsott family?

We have known each other for 5 or 6 years. Pete says it was a no-brainer to join the band. We have similar taste in music and we all get along very well. He is stoked to be a part of a band that is recording and touring and has the same ambition as he does.

What have been some of the best shows you have played and was Wacken 2019 your first time at the festival?

Wacken, Wacken Winter Nights, Cernnunos Pagan Fest, San Diego House of Blues in 2018 with Arkona and Korpiklaani, Several of the Paganfest 2013 shows including Hollywood House of Blues, Montreal, Denver, and Toronto.

What would be the perfect tour line-up for you guys?

Iron Maiden, Amon Amarth, Helsott. But in reality the 2013 Paganfest USA lineup was perfect. Ensiferum, Tyr, Heidevolk, TrollfesT, and Helsott.

Besides music, what other professions do the guys do?

Music is my profession. I manage bands, promote for Wacken Metal Battel USA, part owner of Rotted Brain Records, and play in a few bands. Mark is in construction. Pete is into lighting. Doc is a Doctor. Cooper woks the bar at a winery.

What are some of the band’s past-times/hobbies?

Drinking, Drugging, Fishing, Camping, Ax Throwing, Video Games, any kind of fuckery we can get ourselves into.

What bands do you guys listen to?

Rush, Tom Petty, Blue Oyster Cult, Jimi Hendrix, and Pantera

Any new music being written now and if so, when can we expect the next release?

We are currently writing our next full length album. Expected to be released in 2021.

Any ideas for collaborations in the future with other artists? Maybe even someone from Amon Amarth or Ensiferum?

No ideas as of right now for collaborations. I do want to get Ripper Owens on the next record.

Any last words for the readers?

If you made it this far I applaud you and thank you for your interest in Helsott. Hope to see you on the road soon!

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.

Review of ‘Apocalypse & Chill’ by Delain

Review by Ryan Murray | Feb. 21, 2020

I hadn’t heard of Delain until 2015, which is when I saw them with Nightwish at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, and they were awesome! The Human Contradiction got a lot of listens from me after that show!

This album, to me personally anyway, is a bit different! It definitely has a symphonic metal feel to it still, but there are definitely some straight rock elements, and interestingly there’s also a bit of a dance feel for me as well. The vocals at times are very bright and the melodies and rhythms are really catchy! The vocals compliment each other nicely, even when they are using harsh vocals! There are still in your face heavy moments, and still moments of symphonic metal, so this album has it all!

Below is my track by track review of Apocalypse & Chill.

One Second

This song starts out light and ethereal sounding, but at :14 seconds the guitars and drums kick in. Charlotte starts off on her own, but is quickly joined with clean backing vocals in a nice harmony.  The chorus is really catchy, and ends with Otto’s harsh vocals screaming “just one second to love!” The melody is very memorable, and hooks you into wanting to hear it more and more!

Absolutely love the guitar breakdown in this too, along with the solo!

We Had Everything

So I said this album has dance vibes, and this song has a great upbeat vibe to it! It still has a symphonic rock vibe beneath the layers, but definitely makes you want to move!  

This one sees mainly Charlotte on vocals, and is a lot of fun to crank up! Her vocals are very light and airy, with almost a playful vibe. This whole song is also really catchy and I really like the melodies throughout.

Absolutely love the guitars towards the end in this one too!

Chemical Redemption

This one has a mix of different sounds and feels throughout. I really like this song. It starts out with a dance/house groove, but then at :08 seconds this hard guitar riff hits you right in the face!  (Which kind of actually gives me a Rob Zombie vibe.)

I really like the backing mid range mini choir feel that starts at 2:46. It starts out strong, but then goes under a guitar solo, but then gets stronger again. It gives it a very epic feel. 

This song again sees mostly Charlotte, and again her vocals are great. They feel light and airy, but play around with the melodies nicely! 

Burning Bridges

This one starts off right in your face with the main riff, which is hard with strings behind it, but then slightly lightens up for the verses. The verses are very catchy in this one. This song also has some harsh vocals as well, in a very epic sounding breakdown! I love the strings in this one too!

This song kind of spoke to me lyrically. This song, for me, is about people in our lives that burn bridges down with us with their actions. I’ve know someone personally for a very long time that has constantly burned so many bridges with people she knows with her words and her actions. This person was supposed to be like family and has burnt down so many bridges.  

“So why
Would you set to self-destruct?
Aim to annihilate
You are burning”

This person, whether consciously or not, has been set on self destruct for quite some time now. Constantly blaming others for things, can never accept blame and always demonizes others.

“You’re burning your bridges down
You’re burning them to the ground
You’re burning your bridges down
What goes around
Must come around
And you burn your bridges down”

Vengeance

This one has a pretty epic sound to it! I really enjoy this song. It starts out with an ethereal sounding intro, but then kicks into the main groove, which is really catchy and heavy. I also love the backing, choir like vocals throughout the song!

Male vocals kick this one off, but Charlotte joins in shortly after before the first chorus. These vocals really do compliment each other very well!

For me, this song is about heart break and the anger we feel and the need for vengeance that we can’t escape. We’ve all been hurt badly before, some even many times. What we do with that anger and feeling of needing vengeance can set us on an irreversible path of endless hurt and destruction. 

“Give me a reason
Give me a sign or a sacrifice
One more reason to lay down these arms
And stop the fight
Give me a reason 
Give me a sign you get one more try
Or tonight
Vengeance is mine“

When it’s someone we love that hurts us, we want to look for a reason to give them another chance. When two people “lay down their arms” and stop fighting and actually listen to each other, real healing can take place. 

To Live Is To Die

This one starts out with a bit of a dance/house vibe, but the guitars quickly follow! This song, musically speaking, kind of gives me a Crüxshadows vibe throughout. We hear mostly just Charlotte on this one. I also really like the guitar solo towards the end. 

This song seems to talk about our limited time and that we need to fill the space in our lives with happiness, love and joy, not anger.  

“To live is to die
Remember to live
To live is to die
Tell me how you’ll fill the void
And live a life worth dying for?
To live is to die
Remember to live 
To live is to die” 

How will we fill our “void” or time?  With a life worth living for?  Or a life we’ll regret at the end of it all?

Let’s Dance

This one starts heavy and in your face, but pulls back substantially on the verses and choruses. That main riff definitely hooks you in though, and you hear throughout, as well as the end of the song. I really like that main riff a lot, it brings me back to this song often! And there’s a nice face shredding guitar solo too!

Creatures

Another in your face heavy intro! This one has a slower tempo, but still drives hard. When the verse comes in, the band pulls back and Charlotte comes in lightly. This song is pretty dark, and definitely keeps with the apocalypse vibe.

There are two sections that really stood out to me lyrically.

“Our cities turned to ash
Our stories all been told
Our final melody is slowly
Dying with the light
But you are the night
You are the night.”

“You don’t walk alone tonight
You will learn the price of time
You’ve got the weight of memory
Forever chained onto your feet
Chained onto your feet
Chained onto your feet
But when your back’s against the wall 
Who’s gonna catch you when you fall?”

Ghost House Heart

Time to bring it down quite a bit. This song is mostly keyboard and Charlotte, with strings throughout. An absolutely beautiful ballad. I really love the strings in this one. 

The vocals throughout are light and airy, and this song feels really ethereal.

Charlotte starts off lightly with the line “Why do we fall like the leaves to the ground?”

We all fall in our lives, but it’s not the fall that defines us.  It’s how we pick ourselves up and how we overcome that defines us.

“This is not the end
There’s a million things to see
But it’s not for you and me
It’s a cross that we carry
Oh, this is not the end
There’s a million things to say
There’s a heavy price to pay
(This is not the end)
And there’s a million things to say.”

Our fall isn’t the end.  There’s so much beyond a bump in the road that is yet to be seen.  

Masters Of Destiny

This one starts off softer, but gets really big and epic for the choruses! The symphonic feel with strings and choir-like backing really draws me into this one a lot. I kind of get a “Meadows of Heaven” (by Nightwish) vibe. This one is definitely a big favorite of mine!

To me, this song is saying that we are the masters of our own destiny.

“We are the dreamers
We roll the dice so we’re alive
We’ll always be
Masters of destiny.”

We have the power to fulfill our dreams! As long as we take risks and never give in to the world telling us we can’t, nothing can stop us! 

Legions Of The Lost

This one is really catchy right off that bat with yet another epic feel!  I feel like this could be playing during an epic battle scene in a movie!  Needless to say this is another favorite!

From the guitars and drums, to the strings and choral background, this song puts you through a roller coaster of feelings and emotions. 

With an epic sounding choral intro in Latin, this adds a really different feel to this song and it’s really cool!

“Temet Nosce
Acta Non Verba
Temet Nosce
Dum Spero Spero
Omnium rerum principia parva sunt”

This roughly translates to –

“Know thyself
Actions not words
Know thyself
As long as I hope, I hope,
All small beginning”

By the first verse, this song seems to be about standing up for what you believe in, and not letting money, power and politics get in your way.

When listening to the bridge, we hear – “Never forget what you are made of. Or what you started fighting for. Always remember who you are.” These words really stood out to me.

The Greatest Escape

This one starts out with just a keyboard, but is quickly joined by guitars and strings. The verses are light and the choruses are catchy! I really love the strings in this one.  This song is oddly relaxing and gives a calming feeling to the listener.  

“Cut through the highest waves
Finding your soul a haven
Water the garden over your grave.”

This song, for me, is about finding rest for ourselves.  In a world that is overloaded with information and noise, we need to give our hearts and souls a rest.

Combustion

The final track. No vocals here, just straight instrumental. This song starts out with just a keyboard and builds into a guitar solo. At 1:37 though, hang on because things are about to pick up. Then we get a really heavy break down groove. We then go back into the lead guitar solo again, but this time with a heavier groove under it. The song outro has a heavy groove and a lead solo with the note hanging over and fading into an echo.

As I said above, when I first saw Delain with Nightwish in 2015, I really enjoyed them and loved their music! This whole album is enjoyable, but I definitely like the second half more! I would rate this album a 4.0 out of 5.0!

For me, this album has a great mix of styles, all without losing the symphonic metal vibe.

If you haven’t listened to “Apocalypse & Chill” yet, please give it a listen! It’s available on all streaming platforms and of course for physical purchase as well!

Overall Rating: 4/5
Band Site: http://www.delain.nl/

Review of ‘Wanderers’ by Visions of Atlantis

Review by Ryan Murray | Feb. 10, 2020

If you’re looking for a great symphonic/power metal band, look no further!  From the vocals, harmonies, and instrumentation, this band is a breath of fresh air in the symphonic/power metal genre!  They remind me of bands such as Nightwish, Symphony X and others!  Clémentine Delauney and Michele Guaitoli really sound amazing together!  Their vocals really compliment each other and really blend well!  The guitar solos are really great as well!

I found out about Visions of Atlantis last July on Facebook.  I don’t always check out the bands I see on Facebook, but I decided to give this band a chance.  I was immediately glad I did, and couldn’t stop listening to them.  

Below is my track by track review of their newest album called “Wanderers”.

Release My Symphony

This opening track has a :36 second ethereal sounding intro, which gives off a great vibe for the start of the album.  Hold on to your seats though because at :37, a crescendo comes in which kicks into the main riff which is a combination of drums, heavy guitar riffs and symphonic sounds.  This riff for me is the hook, and it lives up to its name.  It’s really catchy and pulls you in wanting more!

Clémentine starts off light and airy, but don’t let that fool you!  Michele comes in next, and then they share a beautiful harmony together.  The chorus is really catchy!  

“Release my symphony 
Of innocence and poetry
Reveal the remedy
In melodies and words
Escape the tragedies
These rhapsodies unheard
Ode to the souls
That yearn to unfold”

Both of these voices, while they seem drawn back, are powerful even when singing a softer portion of these songs.  

This song, for me, is about releasing who we are to the world, and not letting anyone hold us back.  There are those that want to try to hold us down, but we need to release that and not let it hold us back.  

“Battles I Lead
Cherish the strength that I fight with
Tears I have shed
But I hope for bright tomorrows will swipe away the sorrows.”

We all have an inner strength that we draw from different things.  This inner strength can help us to look past our sorrows and to learn and grow from them.  

Heroes of the Dawn

The intro to this track has a light Celtic feel to it, but the guitars kick in :12 seconds in and really kick this song up a notch.  Michele opens up this song vocally starting off the first verse and Clémentine follows not too far behind.  This song is also really catchy with catchy melodies, vocal harmonies and riffs.  This song kinda reminds me of Nightwish’s “I Want my Tears Back”.  

Nothing Lasts Forever

This track takes it down a few notches with an amazing power ballad.  As I had noted earlier, even when the vocals are pulled back, there is a true strength to them.  That rings true all throughout this song.  This is one of my favorite tracks on the album! To me, there is so much raw emotion in this song, and the listener can feel that. 

This song starts off with just a keyboard and Clémentine.  Vocals are pulled back, but still powerful.  And the backing strings bring this song to a whole different level.

When the chorus hits, so do the drums ever so lightly.  And Michele joins in with harmony.  

For the second verse, the band is now all in and Michele takes the verse this time.  

I absolutely love the guitar solo just before the final chorus/outro as well! 

This song for me is about how precious life is and how limited our time is.  The title is straight forward and really speaks to the theme that nothing lasts forever.  It speaks to how if we don’t spend our time wisely, we’ll grow old without accomplishing anything of significance.  Looking back on our old selves, would we regret what wasn’t done or what wasn’t said?

“The beard of the old man, all soaked with his tears
Each single one falling for one of his years
Of running the races in quest of a place still unknown
It’s called home”

This part really hit me.  Life is so fleeting and happens so quickly.  In the blink of an eye it could all end.  

“Nothing lasts forever
It all will be gone
Could you still remember 
When your life began?
Cherish the moment
Without a regret
Nothing lasts forever
It’s never too late.”

While we can’t change the past, it’s never too late to change the here and now.  Make your time here count.

A Journey to Remember

Here we go again, hang on!  This track kicks up the tempo again for another catchy, upbeat song.  The strings and guitars really make this one a great symphonic metal track!  The hook really does pull you in to want to hear more and more of this track.  I’ve played it on repeat several times!

Clémentine and Michele harmonize a lot in this one.  

For me, this song is about the fear that we all have about being successful and the journey that leads to that success.  A journey to success is never without difficulties and are usually filled with those who want to knock us down. 

“The message is clear
The trap is to fear
They’d damage what I hold dear.”

Those who want to knock us down try to use fear to tear us down and to unravel us.

“Set sails
This is the day
Stars align to show you the way
A journey to remember
A quest to find your treasure land
Buried in the sand
The key to your own chains.”

When we decide to not let fear trap us and we separate ourselves from those who try to knock us down, this is when we can break free from those chains of fear. 

A Life of Our Own

Release the Kraken!  This song has a really catchy beat to it.  This power metal song kinda gives me an Iced Earth vibe.  This time around, we hear Clémentine using a bit more of an operatic style voice.  It’s not over bearing and sounds really nice.  It blends really well with Michele’s vocals.

This song, for me, talks about difficulties that we face in life and facing our inner demons of fear.  It talks about a true heart being the only lighthouse to those fears.  

“Here it’s presence I feel as I tumble and reel
The fear I will have to resist
This danger awaiting, the storm unabating
I can’t ignore it exists
Sailing far away from common paths
The truth as the cause to espouse
We will face our demons, the worst of their wraths 
A true heart, the only lighthouse.”

For me, this talks about the presence of fear in our lives and how we have to resist it.  Ignoring our fears and hoping they will just disappear doesn’t do anything but set us up for failure.  We need to face our fears head on and face our demons.  

To the Universe

I really like the riffs and melody on this track!  This song really leaves me with a Symphony X vibe.  The vocals yet again really shine and show how well Clémentine and Michele compliment each other.  

This song, for me, is about taking a deep dive into ourselves and seeking out who we are supposed to be.  

“This one time, the universe will see
Deep inside, who I am meant to be
It will reveal the stars and the path I have to take
And all of what I will forsake.”

Sometimes we get lost and lose our path.  We feel beaten down by difficulties in life and we let those who kick us down hold us back from pressing on.

“If we find who we are meant to be
If we take the path no one can see
We would banish the forces 
That nail us to the ground
We should give it a chance
The world’s in our hands”

When we let those around us hold us back, we allow them to hold us to the ground and we feel stuck.  We can stop them from holding us down by taking the higher ground and discovering who we are meant to be outside of their toxicity.  We can move on and overcome.

Into the Light

This track brings it back down a few notches with an absolutely beautiful, mostly keyboard/strings ballad.  This song sees only Clémentine on vocals, and she sounds very enchanting!  The keyboard and strings really compliment each other very well.  The band joins in at 2:55 with a nice guitar solo!  The song ends with the band dropping out and an outro with just keyboard/strings with Clémentine softly finishing this beautiful song out.  

This song, for me, is about the loss of someone very close to us.  We would do anything to get just one more day with a loved one that we’ve lost.  It also seems to be about how this person, while no longer physically here, residing in our hearts and memories forever.  

“I’ll steal from time
Just one more day
Into the light of your heart
I’ll pray the stars
For you to stay
Forevermore.”

What would we say to someone if we knew today was the last day we’d ever see them?  What would we give to spend one more day with them after they are gone?  We need to live every day as if it’s our last with the ones we love.  

The Silent Scream

Now here’s an epic sounding track!  The hook honestly reminds me of the first heavy part in Nightwish’s “Poet and the Pendulum”!  It has the same epic vibe, and makes you want to move!  Melodically and musically this is one of my favorites and it has been on repeat on several occasions!

This song, for me, is about how we as mankind are abusing the earth.

“Wasteland we will leave behind
Forests to cultures. It’s fading away
Truth must be shown to the blind
As the world’s fate and ours are entwined”

We leave behind wastelands, we litter in mass quantities and destroy a lot of things, but we care less and less about forests/nature.  The words suggest that many need to awaken to the truth, as our fates are “entwined” with the world’s fate.  

“Change, now the time has come
Losing the light, losing the fight
Falling apart, it’s coming undone
Earth, it’s silent scream I’ve heard
There is a way that we can take
To repay all the hurt”

The song seem to urge us that it’s not too late to change.  The earth is “silently screaming” out.  We can take steps to “repay all the hurt.”

The Siren & the Sailor

In this song we hear Clèmentine with a slightly more operatic vocal again.  This one has also got some time signature changes, which really add to the feel/complexity of the song.  

This song, to me, seems to be about self greed and what it does to us when we let it continuously tempt us.

“Tempted by the charms
The beauty, the game
Your greed is the call
That leads you to shame
They guide you to the dark
These very steps that you take
Away from your heart.”

Greed leads to so many negative things.  It can guide us into the darkest places and warp our sense of what is truly important.

“Fallen in disgrace there’s no one to blame
Come down save me
Wisdom is the key to your redemption
Come down save me
Too bad, it will never be the same.”

We tend to want to blame others for our own greed and the problems that it causes.  With wisdom, however, we can grow beyond that.  Once we take responsibility for our own greed, we can grow and learn from it.  

Wanderers

The title track for this album.  Let’s bring it down a few notches to another beautiful ballad with keyboard/strings.  This one also only has Clémentine on vocals, and again she sounds enchanting!  The vocals, keyboard and strings blend very well together and are powerful!  

This song, for me, is about the constant search to fill a void in our lives, and constantly wandering around trying to fill that void anywhere and everywhere with anything and everything.

“Despite all the loving arms
And all the friendly smiles
We still find a giant void
Tarnishing our minds.”

No matter how many friendly people we surround ourselves with, we still wander around trying to fill a void in our lives.  For some, the fill for that void is found in a romantic relationship.  For others it’s religion.  For me as a Christian, I have found the fill to that void in my relationship with God.  

At the End of the World

It’s time to kick it up a few notches again!  This song starts off kinda heavy, but backs off a bit for the verse. Michele starts this one off, but Clémentine isn’t too far behind.  They then meet in yet another display of beautiful and well balanced harmonies.  The chorus for me personally is the hook.  It’s a really catchy melody, and lyrically speaks to me as well.  

“We will make our life
Like the pirates we once were
Paradise we will find
Right at the end of the world
We will start in this place, we will end on the Sea
There is nowhere we’d rather be
Than away, far away
You and me.”

To me, this is about making and finding true happiness with the love of our lives.  It doesn’t matter where we start off in a relationship, we can always bring it to new heights. We can always grow closer, and we can always build a relationship stronger and stronger as long as we do it as a team with our loved one.  There is no where I’d rather be in the world than being with my wife, no matter where that leads us.  

Bring the Storm

This song has a :06 second distorted bass intro, and it’s really cool!  Then the band and synth kick in!  The main riff has a pulse pounding feel to it, and really draws me back to  it to want to hear it more!  This one is another favorite for me.  The melodies really hook me in and I find myself listening to this one a lot as well. 

This song, for me, is about two worlds colliding in a relationship without mutual trust.  When trust isn’t mutual in a relationship, it makes things extremely difficult.  You can’t have a relationship without mutual trust in each other.

“True love is all I want to know
True lies is all I got to live
I sense what you don’t want to show
I’m losing faith in you when you tend to deceive.”

When you’re lied to in a relationship, it’s beyond hurtful.  When it becomes consistent lies that just get bigger and bigger, it starts to decay a relationship.  True lies become the norm, and it breaks you down.  When our significant other lies and deceives all the time, it becomes very obvious and visible and we start to lose faith in them. 

“Two worlds collide and with reason aside
We cannot explain. Damage done.
As you take from me all I give to you
And it seems it’s never enough
Anger divides and we’re crossing the line
We cannot escape. Bring the storm
As you lie to me, as I lie to you
As we lie to everyone else
But it feels like peace is never far away.”

When one constantly gives, gives and gives and the other only constantly takes and takes, it’s extremely draining.  It begins to feel like we can never give enough since the relationship isn’t an equal give and take.  As the lies and deceit continue, anger comes to the forefront and we begin to cross a line.  Before we know it, we’re both lying to each other, as well as to others around us who are concerned about the issues as well.  

In & Out of Love

The final track.  There are two things that really hook me with this one.  First, I love the border line dance groove which starts out subtly at 1:00 and grows from there.  Also, I really love the strings towards the end as well! They start out subtle, but really jump to the forefront at 2:23. 

Overall, I would give this album a 4.8 out of 5.0!  This group has a lot to offer the symphonic/power metal genre and I really look forward to seeing where they go from here!  If you haven’t heard this album yet, or anything from VoA at all, I highly recommend them!

On a more exciting note!  VoA will also be in the USA VERY soon!  They will be with DragonForce, but then they will be doing a small headlining tour!  I’m from NY and one of the headlining shows is less than an hour from me at Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ on Sunday March 22nd, 2020! I’m very excited they will be here and hope to see many US sailors come out as well!  I already have my tickets!

Review of ‘Messengers of Hope’ by Hand of Fate

Review by Joshua Becker | Feb. 10, 2020

The album reminds me a little bit of early Nightwish — Oceanborn, Sleeping Sun-era Nightwish. The lead singer appears to have a mixture between a regular tone and an operatic tone, not always present, like she is experimenting with her voice. 

Some of the songs seem to drown out the voice of the lead singer, especially the heavy guitars in the background. Recommendation is to work on mixing and mastering to tone down the musical instrument levels in the background. 

Overall impressions, they’re not horrible, they sound like a rough cut-type-band where it sounds like they’re just getting a start in the industry. 

I would give this album a 2.5 out of 5 as the lack of presence of the lead singer and the music drowning out take away a lot for the listener. 

Review of “The Best of Tarja” in Prague

Review by Jessica Clingempeel | 21.01.20 | © Photos & Videos belong to me, J.C.

Tarja had two special shows, one in Romania which was filmed for DVD, and one in Prague which I attended. She played the best of her solo career in new arrangements that would only be heard at these shows. I was looking forward to this show so much wondering what would be in store. Attending the soundcheck gave me a glimpse of what was to come that night and it made me even more anxious.

The show was about 2 hours long and included 16 talented and wonderful musicians. The setlist included songs from every album, some performed many times on stage and some rarities that were missed including Naiad. Tarja has always shown just how professional and dramatic she is at her shows, putting on the best and giving her all to her audience, even when sick or just about burnt out. This was no exception and of all the shows I have been to, this by far was the best.

Every musician gave a flawless performance and you could see that each of them had good chemistry. If there were any mistakes, I did not really notice nor did anyone else as the audience continued to get louder and give more love through each song. The only complaint I would have would be the lighting. The lighting was beautiful, but at times flashed so much that it was hard to see the stage and musicians and was, at times, hurting my eyes.

One of my favourite performances of the night was ‘You and I’ as it is one of my favourite songs by Tarja. Beautifully written and beautifully performed. Other favourites included Love to Hate, Diva, I Feel Immortal, and Tears in Rain which was performed alongside with Clèmentine of Visions of Atlantis. Clèmentine did such an amazing job and her voice matches Tarja’s perfect. Falling Awake was performed with Toni Turunen, Tarja’s younger brother. He has much range in his voice and you can tell music runs through this family’s blood. Naiad was another great performance where all joined in together including Chiara Tricarico. You can see the full setlist below.

You can tell a lot of work was put into these shows and into the new arrangements of these songs. Having seen photos from the show in Romania I cannot wait to have a copy of the DVD in my hands. I only wish the show in Prague was also recorded as the atmosphere of the audience was wonderful, the theatre was beautiful, and the show was just top notch. Maybe they will put some of the fan’s clips onto the DVD as a bonus. 😊

Setlist

Some videos/clips I took

Shadow Play
You and I
Demons in You
Diva
Falling Awake Clip