Review of Lacuna Coil’s ‘Black Anima’

Track-by-Track Review by Joshua Becker | September 19th 2019

Before beginning the review, I want to preface, listening to the tracks and paying close attention to the lyrics, this is an extremely personal album for the band, maybe even more so than their previous records, and as such, it commands the utmost respect. So often, we, the media forget these albums are very personal for the artists, and extremely negative reviews truly hurt someone who puts their heart and soul, quite literally into their works. You can say something isn’t good in a way that is both honest but also respectful. So often, I have seen some absolutely awful and despicable album reviews. This will NOT be one of them, I promise you that.

At any rate, I want to start by saying your favorite Italian metal band is back, swinging right out of the gate, that dark, heavy metal vibe you all have been asking for is here, complete with more growls from Andrea, more introspection from Cristina, some really high notes from her as well, a lot heavier drums and guitar, and yes, yes, dear fans there are some Italian words in there, which I know many have requested. 🙂 

Lacuna Coil’s sound has darkened so much over the years, and especially in this album, it most definitely has a very heavy vibe to it, heavier than any album they have released. When Cristina said in an interview this album would be much darker than previous records, she really meant it. 

Each track you listen to, even if it is a “ballad” of some sort, you can still feel that darkness, that heavy-sounding  metal-type of vibe, especially with how many times Andrea has deep, low growls in the tracks.

I can only guess the band went through some extremely dark times during the recording and composition of this album to make the sound as dark as it has become. The analyses you are about to read are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the meanings to the band.

Music is one of those things where even if you cannot fully understand what an artist means in their work, you can still apply it to your life, and as Cristina put it to me in the interview on “Dark Adrenaline”, “it’s a cool thing about music that everyone can give a different interpretation according to the moments they’re going through.”

“Anima Nera” (Prologue)

This is the first track on the album, and can be seen as a precursor for what is to follow. An interesting thing to note is that it is the only song on the album that is completely a ballad, with no heavy guitars or drums in the background.

Even though it is not a heavy guitar, bass, and drum track, it still has a darker metal feel to it, unlike any ballad Lacuna Coil has ever done.

The track opens with some sounds in the background that sound very rapid, and the tone of them seems like it may be Cristina running from someone or something.

With a soft-toned piano in the background, and towards the end of the track sounds a bit like a siren in the background, which further may prove my theory about the running.

The first words Cristina sings are “I like to bury myself in pain, you know what I mean,” This is a very powerful statement as it suggests she is used to experiencing the pains of being human, and she has decided, even if it causes a delirious state of mind, she is going to embrace the pains and use them to their full advantage.

One might even say she sounds possessed or under the influence of some dark entity or force she is struggling to deal with, especially because while she is singing, it sounds like her voice has a higher pitch to it. 

Ending the track she gets lower-pitched saying in Italian “what remains of my black soul“, signifying this experience she went through has her question how much of her soul, which is already black from the pains of the past, is left. Perhaps the pain she felt has overtaken her, she no longer feels alive anymore.

“Sword of Anger”

As the name would suggest, this track comes right out with a heaviness; conveying anger, the guitars, the drums, such a powerful, thrashing beginning. Andrea being the first on the track, growling with such force you can really sense the emotion he is trying to convey. 

The first words out, “We are the Anima“, which may convey the band are the soul, the driving force of their lyrics, and going through not only this song, but all the songs on the album, you can feel that driving force that keeps them going.

As we know, without soul in music, you cannot get your point across as a band or musician, and you may even come across as disingenuous. No matter what song you listen to by Lacuna Coil, (and as a fan of over 10 years, I have heard every song, including bonus tracks), I can honestly say they pride themselves on their work, and they put every bit of heart and soul they can into their music.

After all, Cristina told me they don’t write about fantasy stuff, this is therapeutic for them, a day-to-day diary of their lives, what they experience in life, and how they are handling it.

With that being said, we get to the chorus “we don’t heed you, the sword of anger will cut in the deep.” What is the sword about, and could it be a metaphor for an ending to something that angered them? We will get back to that in just a second.

When you near the end of the song, Cristina says a line which gave me goose bumps: “There’s more to us that you will never see. What is meant by what she said? Who’s to say? Just like the meaning of 1.19, the band will always hold the most personal moments in life to themselves.

Right before we get back to the chorus, Cristina is vocalizing and the notes are so high and they remind me of a fight, and perhaps, this “sword of anger” is destroying their enemies or the dark and painful memories they have experienced.

“Reckless”

The second single, released on Friday, the 13th of September, called “Reckless” begins with what sounds like a Güiro, (which, if you don’t know is a Latin American musical instrument with a stick and ridges which creates a “ratchet” sound). In addition, you hear what sounds like guitar strings being plucked in a low tone. Then the thrashing of the drums and guitar come in.

You can hear a very haunting sound in the background, almost paranormal in nature. Cristina enters, “tonight, it’s going down, to hell with all the innocence…” 

Tonight, it’s going down” could mean no holds barred, they are going all in. “To hell with all the innocence” could mean maintaining an innocence could be holding them back, and they will do whatever it takes to get what they want.

Later on the chorus kicks in “you make me, make me reckless“, which means to me someone or something makes them act on impulse without thinking of the consequences, taking that pain they were caused and turning it into something. After all, they say the greatest inspiration comes from pain and agony we face in our daily lives.

The best thing to do with pain is channel it into something artful, whether it be a song, poetry, or even a drawing, just let it out. It is completely human to express your feelings, in any way that you relate to, and in any way that makes you feel comfortable and sheltered.

“Layers of Time”

This is the very first single released by the band on July 26th.

The song begins with what sounds like a clock ticking in the background, suggesting the concept of time, and how it cannot be changed, there are no time machines to get back what was stolen from us.

Next, you hear an electronic sound in the background getting closer and closer until you hear Andrea belting out the words “layers of time“. All the while, heavy guitars and drums can be heard in the background.

Cristina sings the chorus: “victims of time, we take our chance again, our road is paved with pain, the past we can’t rewind.” This seems to be another example of what I mentioned earlier about the concept of time fleeting, and never being able to change the past, and mistakes we may have made. Especially the line “the past we can’t rewind.” Even though time has been stolen from us, we will not relent, we will never surrender.

The bridge leading up to the chorus loses the heavy guitars and drums and has a ballad-like feel to it with much softer guitar tones in the background.

Cristina starts singing “twisting, turning, through the baptism of fire, burning, angels, falling, through the spiral of time“. Almost like being trapped somewhere, like a maze with fire all around, angels falling and being lost to time. 

Finally, she says “Through layers of time, we’ll live again, forget the past, we’ll be alright.” Whatever dark place she was in, it seems she made it out, for now at least, as we get back to the chorus and the end of the song.

“Apocalypse”

The next track “Apocalypse” begins with vocalising in the background and what sounds like a very ominous piano organ in the background. You think it is going to be a ballad, as the song starts off slow, but surprise, it’s not.

The guitar and drums play heavy while the vocalisation continues in the background. Andrea says “while you pray, we don’t care.” This could be about death, praying for someone to be saved, hoping and wishing they will be okay, and death comes.

Death doesn’t care about prayer as it is inevitable, just like time, you can never change either one, unfortunately, and we all have experienced loss, and we wish we could have saved our loved ones, or at the very least spent more time with them before we lost them. If only we had more time.

A different interpretation could be against an enemy. “While you pray, we don’t care” could mean “saving yourself will not work and it is a waste of time trying because we will destroy you and nothing will save you.”

Next you hear: “Apocalypse it’s going down, this time, and I’m surprisingly alive.” This may signify something has already happened and they are surprised they’ve made it through the flames, while scathed, they still made it.

Going through the lyrics of this track, I can’t help but feel there may be a guilt that is felt for being alive while someone else is not.

Towards the end of the song, you hear Cristina sing “looking through the hourglass“, further in “let the fate decide, right here“. 

Could this mean the hourglass is relating back to “Layers of Time” where time is fleeting once again, and they are staring into what time is left, then just say “to hell with it, what is meant to be will be, we cannot change that?”

Even though it pains us, we have to keep living, even those long gone, we can still mourn them, but we cannot stop the inevitable.

“Now or Never”

“Now or Never” starts off with a very melancholic violin, and you hear crackling in the background, though the crackling is very subtle. The heaviness rolls in, with Andrea growling “walk me out of here, take me away.” This suggests to me, there are moments they do not want to deal with, take them away from the pain, of the hurt they have experienced.

It could also be a metaphor for “the beast” since that is mentioned in the song. It could go back to a previous track in which like Cristina, maybe someone else is also self-blaming and appears to be their own worst enemy.

This song is very fast-paced, with the heavy riffs and drums, but there are also moments when the song slows down a bit.

Cristina sings “now or never, the time is right, out of your shelter“. This could be seen as a metaphor that they need to face what has been haunting them, and keeping them sheltered. If they don’t do it soon, it suggests that it could be too late and there will be more pain, more agony, it’s time to get back to the life they once lived. Forget the pains of the past, because as unfortunate as it is, we all have to move on, or at least try to at some point in our lives.

There is a part in the song when Cristina and Andrea collaborate, they are exuding a powerful moment together where it sounds like Cristina is essentially screaming and Andrea is growling, both with such force it almost seems like a war cry while in battle.

There’s no mercy for the innocent“. This could suggest just like in a battle or war, the innocent, if they are in the way, they will be hurt and nothing can be done about it.

They have not, and will not ever give up the fight, no matter how much pain, and how many tears they have shed, and whoever has wronged them will pay, even if an innocent person gets in the way.

“Under the Surface”

This track is very fast, to the point it signifies a passion burning deep inside. Heavy guitars, drums, this is an overall very heavy, fast-paced track.

There’s a line at the end of the track’s beginning: “but the smile is fake, there’s much more that hides behind, all your senses are compelled to lie“. This means, to me, someone has lied to them, or deceived them in some way, but they know that smile is fake, the person’s actions or feelings are fake, they can see right through them.

There is another line in the track “everything feels perfect when you’re spinning lies.” This seems to go together with what I mentioned earlier about deception, lies, a facade of someone or something that has wrong them.

It continues “but deep under the surface the battle comes alive“. Is this “battle” a metaphor for the fight that is about to ensue between they and the person or thing that wronged them? Does “under the surface” mean deep within their soul? 

They feel the anger building, they feel that they are so pained, so much aggression is coming to a point where they are ready to go in swinging, ready to go in with everything they have to teach the wrongdoer a lesson? 

As you progress more into the song, it seems that they don’t want to put up a fight, they want to be sheltered, they just want it all to go away, and they will fight only if they have absolutely no other choice.

The last lines of the song are “you never stood a chance, so keep on burying your head in the sand“. Perhaps this means the wrongdoer cannot hide anymore, and everything around that person or thing is collapsing, so bury your head in the sand because now everyone can see what you truly are.

You are naked in the eyes of others, no more hiding, everything about you has been revealed and you will suffer, with nothing, and no one to help you as you live the rest of your days in loneliness and isolation.

“Veneficium” (Poisoning or sorcery in English)

This was a very interesting track to listen to, not only because of Latin sung in the beginning, but because it sounds very symphonic, slightly operatic, which I have definitely never heard from Lacuna Coil- this track was a huge surprise to me. It kind of reminded me of something Tarja or Within Temptation would do. (Speaking of, if you have not heard the duet between Cristina & Tarja on Tarja’s new album ‘In the Raw’ do so now. The song is ‘Goodbye Stranger’.)

I can only assume the operatic vocals are indicative of their native Italy, as Italy, as we all know is extremely famous for opera. In fact, a little history lesson: the first known opera was in Florence, Italy in 1598.

We start with the operatic-feel in the background, followed by Latin, some of what is said is “nova vis ad diem novum nascitur“, which, when translated, loosely means “a new day is born”. I can only guess this means a follow-up of sorts to “Save Me”, wherein we heard Cristina’s monologue and how no matter what, no matter the pain and grief and fear, she will revolt with everything she has.

The opera still continues in the background, but the heaviness creeps its way in slowly, with the guitars and drums, as the operatic Latin is still heard in the background.

A line right after, “I’m unmoving like a stone, this silence screams so cold, I wish I was so far from here” stuck with me. Could this be an unwillingness to move because of fear, and the fact of wanting to be gone, to be somewhere else physically or mentally?

This song seems like a breakup of sorts, either mentally or a relationship ending. There is an overwhelming sense of pain to be had either way. In fact, the lyrics of the entire song suggest that: pain, the ending of something that was once held so dear.

Progressing through the song, you hear a line “here I come, to show you all the wounds inside my heart“. This seems like someone’s heart has been crushed, destroyed, shattered.

Another line that stuck with me heavily was “I would destroy my own life to consume your soul“, this suggests a readiness no matter what, even if it kills them, to take that person’s soul, so they won’t be around anymore to cause more pain.

There was a time we looked down from the clouds, we climbed sky high, thought that we would never fall, how come you didn’t even try.” This line suggests that they went so high, enough to reach the clouds, feeling on top of the world, suggesting nothing could bring them down, and when one of them fell down, the other person did not even try to save them.

They damn sure put up no fight, it was easier to let it go, even though the other person wanted at least some kind of fight to be put up. So often, when breakups happen, we feel this way, and we feel the person who broke up with us did not even try to work things out. It was just easier to let go than to fight for what is right. After this line, the song goes back to the bridge leading into the chorus. First, a very nice guitar solo seeming to convey almost sorrow, symbolic of tears being shed. Afterward, we get back to the chorus.

After the chorus we hear “Here I want to start again, keep learning day by day.” Suggesting that they want so badly to move on, to forget the pain and start anew.

I’m afraid to see what I became, I know it will never be the same“. The suggestion here is right now, a fear that they have been changed, they have been corrupted in a way by what happened.

A short line “here I come, I know I will never be the same,” suggests to me “I am ready to greet a new day, and to heal, even if this experienced changed me, I have not given up the will to live, I will not keep my heart cold”. Back to the chorus again a few times, then the song gets softer and fades out.

“The End Is All I Can See”

In the beginning of the song you hear what appears to be electronic sounds, with sort of a distortion that is being felt. Soon after, you hear what sounds like knocking at a door. Then the guitar and drums kick in, but not so heavy, rather milder.

The first line “I am just realizing, this pain is almost like salvation“, suggests “I have finally come to the understanding that this pain is almost freeing, because I can focus on it, rather than focusing on what once was, the loss, the fear”.

It also could suggest a reprieve from sins, for their part in whatever happened, just like the line “clean away my sins” later in the song suggests, “I will do anything to fix what is broken, to reverse time so this never happened”.

Clean all my sins because I want to be with you.” This line suggests that “whatever I did for you to cause this pain, I want you to know that I am sorry for my part, clean those parts of me, so we can be together again”.

The evil within, stinging and burning, consumes me with guilt“. The suggestion here is whatever sins, as mentioned earlier that may be at fault, were the result of some evil thoughts, and a guilt is being felt from deep within that cannot be helped because those evil thoughts were never intentional, and they wish none of this ever happened. 

Maybe, going back to the other songs alluding to time, there is not a way to go back to change what has already happened. A lot of us, myself included can relate to doing things we regret, and wishing we had a chance to go back in time and fix them.

But I asked Cristina in an interview if she had any regrets or moments in time she wished she could change, and she said “maybe they are but they might change who I am right now, which I am pretty happy. So I wouldn’t change a thing”.

I only hope she and everyone else can take heart in the fact if you could change the past, you could be a completely different person right now, and friends could be out of your life, different things could happen, and is it worth the risk to change what is happening now?

The last words in the song you hear are “now, please answer my prayers, because the end is all I can see.” There is a suggestion that the prayers for redemption could be wanting to get back the moments time had stolen, to be given a second chance to prove that things can go back to how they were before.

After all, life is ever changing, every evolving, and some things are great, some things we embrace with open arms, but other times we hate ourselves, we hate others, we grieve, we have sorrow and immense guilt.

We are humans, and emotions can be our greatest ally, as they convey compassion, or they could be hindering us, but that is up to the interpretation of every human being in the world to decide for themselves.

“Save Me” 

“Save Me” starts with a fast-paced but slightly-subtle guitar sound in the foreground. As Cristina comes into the song, the pace gets faster, and the drums kick in with a heaviness.

Save me, from myself, I could use your strength right now.” This is among the first lines of the song, and suggests Cristina is her own worst enemy and she needs help, someone’s strength to keep her out of that dark place inside her head.

Something I feel many of us can relate to, as there have been many situations in which we have felt we are our worst enemy, and just like she calls out in the song, we look towards any source we can to save us from the mental torture we put ourselves through. 

So I keep asking myself will I be strong enough to face this mess“. This next line may suggest she is concerned if she will have enough strength to face the music and deal with what has happened. Will she have the strength to get out of her head, get out of that dark place to face what has transpired.

Cristina has a monologue at the end, a sort of reflection on what has happened, what has caused her to get to this point in her life. Maybe she feels guilt for something? 

During the monologue, Cristina says she hates what she sees in the mirror. Without giving too much away, she can’t turn back time but she is not giving up.

In that last line of the monologue, she sounds like she is gritting her teeth in a way that is the strength being summoned to get through the tough times. That driving force has come back ready to seek vengeance.

In Lacuna Coil fashion they don’t give up, they keep singing, keep writing, keep fighting, keep thriving, and most important, keep surviving. 

The heaviness of the guitars and drums ends, and you hear what sounds like a soft, sad violin in the background and a very low-toned piano hitting one note.

This was the bridge getting back to the chorus, because when you think the song is over the heaviness comes back to the chorus. Then at the end of the song, the heaviness fades again, hearing nothing but that soft violin-type sound slowly fade out, 

I cannot help but notice the song, overall, seems like there is a deep fear that is felt, a fear maybe Cristina cannot change what she has become because of what she went through. In addition, her greatest fear really could be herself, as hinted at many times, but that is just my interpretation. 

“Black Anima” (Prologue)

Not including bonus tracks, “Black Anima” is the last track of the album. This has a very ominous, haunting melody with something sounding like it is reverberating in the background with what almost sounds like a music box also in the background throughout the song.

There is a mix of emotions I feel with this last track. I feel the songs before were fighting what cannot be changed, and this one could be about acceptance of what has happened, though it also suggests anger later in the song.

Maybe it is at first sorrow for what cannot be changed, and as you go through the song they say “to hell with it”, “I don’t want to be sad, I don’t want to accept what happened, I will not be beaten down and I WILL keep fighting. 

The first line we hear is “The calm before the storm, clouds are moving in anticipation“. This could be about the storm that is brewing, and how they are ready to have the rain wash away all the anger, sorrow, grief, and pain from them. Ready to truly move on, they need to be relieved of all the toxic energy that has been built up throughout.

Further into the song you hear lyrics that suggest it is almost time and they are ready to build themselves back up as the storm has passed. They are ready to forget about the past, forget whatever happened, and they are ready to be who they once were before any of these terrible moments in life happened.

Later you hear Cristina and Andrea collaborating “our world is afraid and falling, pain, we are chasing the ghost that is trapped inside.” Maybe the “world”, they mention, is alluding to their life, their every day existence.

They are afraid of suffering, an ending, and the “ghost” trapped inside could be the past, and the only way to stop the world from crumbling is to destroy the “ghost” being the past from all memory, from any existence it ever had.

Almost the last line of the song say “all the walls that keep us separated, we will break them all, and reunite, and when I’ll be gone, you’ll keep our legacy alive“. Could this bring attention to the fact the “us” is referring to the soul, the “anima” that has been trapped for so long inside as mentioned earlier?

Back to the line “and when I’ll be gone, you’ll keep our legacy alive” could this be about the soul? When the soul is gone again, because of any more pain, and suffering, and grief, keep the “legacy”, which could mean the days when the soul was not broken or lost in time.

Break, smash, disarray, chaos, rise“. The final words from this album, and from this suggest a summary of the track. Destroying the past, smashing it with all their might, disarray and chaos ensue because the pain has been felt for so long, and there is a fear of the unknown, of what may happen, what is yet to come.

“Rise.” Rebuild, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, they will be reborn, just like “Veneficium” says “nova vis ad diem novum nascitur”.  A new day is born”. We are reborn.

I cannot help but notice that a lot of the songs have some correlation with time. Whether it be to turn back time or trying to fight time to get back what was stolen from them. Perhaps that is why “Layers of Time” was the first track released, as it represents that theme very well. I mean, after all, the track title has the word “time” in it.

This idea has stuck with me the entire time I have listened to this album and has become the theme overall, at least for me.

I can only then assume, the reason this album is darker, and heavier is because of personal loss. I truly believe they are dealing with loss on this record. As to what kind of loss, I cannot say with absolute certainty.

In addition, some of the tracks suggest mental torture, something tearing them apart. They may have lost themselves due to what they experienced,

All in all, this was a fantastic album to review, and the chills the Goosebumps, the sadness, (yes, I got teary-eyed through some of the lyrics), you can feel, and even relate in a way to their pain.

This was my first album I have ever reviewed, and I can only hope you like it, and I can only hope I have done it justice.

I give this hell of an album 5 stars, and not only because it was so well-composed, it was very dark lyrically, dark states of mind were definitely apparent, and the heavy guitar riffs and drum smashing just add to it.

Before ending the review, I have to say that if you made it this far, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read this review, I spent many hours on it, and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

I want to apologize at how lengthy this is, but I wanted to do a very thorough review of each song, as the artists spent a lot of time on this work, and it means a lot to them, so the least I could do was give a very detailed, in-depth review track-by-track, rather than an overall review, as that is what I felt this album demanded.

I want to give a huge thank you, even though it may not be warranted, to Cristina, Andrea, Marco, Diego and Richard for sharing this masterpiece with the world, and for sharing such private and intimate moments of your lives with the world.

Thank you also to Claire with whom I was able to review this record and Jess, founder of this webzine, for allowing me to be the trusted one to review it.

You all are the anima behind the music.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Review: Melissa VanFleet’s ‘Ode to the Dark’ EP

Review by Jade | September 18, 2019

Melissa VanFleet is a beautiful musician from Philadelphia with the kind of voice that makes you stop and listen. Her style of metal includes orchestra, piano and an Alternative Rock lineup that all around makes her very unique.

Raven: Miss VanFleet opens the EP with a slow melody that is also reflected in the other three songs the EP consists of. The emotions are real in this one – sadness leaks from every edge and imperfection, bringing the listener in and making damn sure they stay where they are until the message is taken in. With strong lyrics and haunting tones, a great blend of Alternative Rock using guitar pieces, this song stands out in the spotlight and demands the attention needed for the rest of the EP.

“Sometimes I feel I’d be better off dead.”

In our interview with Miss VanFleet, she speaks about music being a safe place from depression and mental illness. Lyrics in this song reflect that in ways only lyrics can.

“I can’t find my demons anymore – I’m pounding at their door.”

The message is deep and relateable.

Atrophy: (Definition: Waste away, especially as a result of the degeneration of cells, or become vestigial during evolution.) Another song that starts slow and builds, Atrophy is the second song of Ode to the Dark. While beautiful and haunting, the chorus is a bit repetitive throughout the song. This, however, does not take away from the mood or the intent of the song. Miss VanFleet’s voice more than makes up for it, hosting an impressive vocal trick for the word ‘deteriorate.’

“Atrophy – I deteriorate.”

Upon learning the definition of Atrophy, the song takes on higher meaning. It’s absolutely beautiful musically as well, with a nice focus on the guitar.

Marionette: With opening notes reminiscent of a music box, Marionette also kicks off with a slower melody. This doesn’t take away from the dark, fairytale-like essence that floats in and winds its way around the ears of the listener. The music picks up in rhythm with beautiful guitar work, and Miss VanFleet’s hypnotic voice singing a song of the unknown “She,” who, quite possibly, could be a different person or entity for everyone.

“She’s in the corner holding me down. She’s in the shadows dragging me around.”

Ode to the Dark: We end this beautiful EP with a ballad of pain dipped in beauty. The melody of this final song starts slowly and climbs at an enjoyably agonizing pace to its peak, finally reaching a heavier mood two minutes in. There are many emotions in this song, but not used in a jarring sense. In fact, the shifts and changes seem to be perfect, allowing the listener to follow along and feel the journey along with Miss VanFleet.

“Sing me a requiem as I lay me down forevermore. I pray my soul to find a paradise it never felt before.”


As others I’ve seen, my main discord with Ode to the Dark was the “one size fits all” pattern of all four songs. There didn’t seem to be any other method than the slow build up to a heavier rock pattern. The addition of orchestra and piano were a great choice, however, and the EP is far from lackluster. And despite that one dislike, I still give it a full five stars.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Review of Tarja’s ‘In the Raw’ Singles

Review by Ryan Murray | Aug. 15, 2019

Dead Promises

Dead promises – we all hate them. But what can they teach us? In Tarja’s new song “Dead Promises”, Tarja’s departure from symphonic metal is obvious within the first 30 seconds of this amazing track. (The heaviness kinda brings me back to Ciaran’s Well from My Winter Storm) The intro is lead guitar based. It makes me wonder if Tarja had some influence from Stratovarius during the “Nordic Symphony”. Anyway, at about :17 seconds in, the first power chord hits, and gives you an idea of what this song is made of. Just wait for it. Then the main riff, with drums, kicks in at about :46 seconds, which is where I’d imagine the pit will break out? 🙂

Tarja’s melodies in this song are extremely catchy, no surprise there. What I find most intriguing though is, for a lack of better words, the “rawness” of Tarja’s emotions throughout the melodies. I’ve been a huge fan of Tarja since about 2001, but I’ve never heard such raw emotion coming from her as I have in this song, both lyrically and melodically. This album is said to dive into the raw state of Tarja’s emotion, bringing us into a very personal place lyrically. This song doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

This song truly demonstrates Tarja’s writing ability to hook the listener within just seconds of the song. Driving/heavy guitars, grooving and pulse pounding drums and yet, subtle verses. Tarja’s vocal versatility shines in “Dead Promises”; from her light yet driving “ahh ahh ahhhh”’s during the intro and in between verses, to her more laid back voice during the verses “I’ve seen the walls collapsing, breaking down countless times”, to her belting out “Dead Promises” in the choruses.

“Dead promises
Games you play will kill your dreams
Promises mean everything
Life won’t look back for you”


This line in particular means a lot to me. I’ve had someone in my life that I’ve known since I was 9 years old. This person always made promises that they’d be there to support me, and would always be there to help me grow. Then the backbiting and the dead promises started. This person did everything they could to break me down, and eventually, killed a dream for me. I however then look to the line in the second verse “Why can’t you see that your powers will weaken and fall? Oh why, you seem to forget what you make us recall.” This person only had power over me because I allowed them to. Thankfully, I got myself out of that toxic situation and have made new dreams that are becoming reality.

For me, this song reminds us of what empty promises have taught us throughout our lives. We can chose to be a victim, or a victor. We can’t let those who hurt us with empty promises define who we are, and they only define who we are if we give them the power to do so.

If this song is any indication as to what the rest of “In the Raw” holds, I absolutely can’t wait. I always find a true connection to music that is honest and raw; music that pours out emotion and doesn’t hold back. Tarja always pushes the boundaries with her music and tries new things, and because of that her music is always evolving. *

Railroads

As a fan of Tarja since I discovered Nightwish in 2001, I have always had a deep appreciation for all of her music, and have always been able to find a personal connection to her lyrics; and “Railroads” is no exception! This song, to me, has a beautiful opening. (It’s actually hard not to envision an older railroad crossing just before the vocals come in.)

The first few lines alone I connect to right away.

“Hard to believe in, strikes like a bad sin.
Live without meaning is no life at all.
Dreaming victorious, death to be glorious.
Conquering new worlds further than before.”


Everyone longs to find meaning in their lives and it’s hard to believe in life without one. For some, it’s a career. For many, it’s family and their loved ones. For others, it’s faith. For me, it was my new found faith as a Christian that gave my life meaning.

Throughout my middle school/high school years, I went through a really bad depression. We had a lot of financial worries throughout those years and things were really difficult emotionally, financially and socially. I dealt with a lot of emotional bullying, which turned physical at times as well. Back in 2008, a close friend introduced to me to the Church that I’m going to still to this day, and my life has completely changed for the better. I have a much better career path now, an amazing Wife who I met at Church, and have found true happiness and joy in my life.

When the chorus kicks in “Come show me the love that fills your heart. You’ll see this moment will redeem the past, and shine tomorrow railroads with your light.” the music builds with more intense strings and chugging guitars. After the second chorus, there’s an instrumental interlude for about :38 seconds where the strings intensify even more and pull to the front of the melody from the chorus. I’ve always been a sucker for strings with hard rock, and this section is just great!

For me, the chorus is really the hook of this song. The very moment that we discover the meaning of our lives, we find a love and a drive that fills our hearts. For me, when I turned to my faith as a Christian, that exact moment in time redeemed my past. In this moment, whatever your purpose is, once you identify it, you become a light for all of those around you who may still be in the dark. You’re able to help others who have been in your same situation because you’ve been through it and came out on the other side victorious.

Thank you Tarja, yet again, for your constant inspiration. Thank you for sharing something so beautiful, yet something so raw. I can’t wait to hear the rest of this album!

Tears in Rain

We all have faced challenges and difficulties in our lives, but what defines us is how we come out on the other end. We can all relate to Tarja’s newest single “Tears in Rain”, as we’ve all faced something that has completely changed us.

The intro to this song is in your face drums and guitar, with some synth in the background. Once the verse hits, it almost has an 80’s feel, and I love it! The verses are light but groovy, and the chorus is extremely catchy. “We are gone. Nothing of us remains, like tears in rain. Who we are, all of it washed away like tears in rain.”

The bridge, however, has got to be my favorite part of the song, especially the first few words. For me personally, it speaks to victory over difficulties. “I will write another storyline. The circle of love will shine…”

When I was about 22, someone I trusted and considered a part of my family (not blood family) did something awful to me. This one moment in my life changed me. I didn’t know who I could trust anymore. When I hear the opening lines “Dominos fall in a house that’s empty. Still of the silence is deafening. Not even a trace, our existence erased by this quiet game.”, I think of that moment. Everything around me came crashing down hard and fast. I was broken. I couldn’t feel anything anymore. Just “…like tears in rain”, the “familial bond” was washed away forever. The trust was broken and could never be gained again.

“How could the memories be so real? We move on, but the time won’t heal. So I give what I get, just before I forget how our fates were sealed”. For years after, the memories were so vivid in my mind. I would have nightmares, on repeat, of that one moment in time. As time moved on, I felt like I wasn’t healing. In fact, only getting worse. I would talk to family and friends about it, but it kept eating at me. I had a choice to make at that point. Either I could let this one moment define the rest of my life, or I could move on, learn from it and forgive. (Forgive doesn’t mean that I’d ever trust this person again, only that I’d release myself from the bondage of hating this person for the rest of my life). I decided to forgive. The moment I did, I was able to “write a new storyline.” The memories slowly began to subside and the nightmares went away. To this day, I am able to see this person, and at least be civil with them. While I have forgiven this person that changed me forever, I won’t ever be able to trust them again.

“Tears in Rain” is becoming my favorite track so far from “In The Raw”. Tarja’s deep dive into herself for this album is very evident. This is shaping up to be my favorite album of hers in quite some time, pretty equal with MWS and WLB. As always Tarja, thank you for sharing your heart with us, and for always staying true to who you are as a person and as a musician. Thank you for laying it all out, and exposing your inner heart on these three songs, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the album!

Review of Newsonic’s ‘Vorax’

Review by Ryan Murray | August 17, 2019

Newsonic, a band from Rio de Janeiro Brazil, released their newest album “Vorax” on June 27th, 2019. I had actually never heard of this band before, however I had been asked to check them out and review the album. I’m so glad I gave them a listen. I’ve been through Vorax several times now, and I can’t stop listening to it! It’s a great blend of hard rock, progressive metal and even symphonic metal. The band sounds similar to bands such as Dream Theatre, Symphony X, and at times even more straight hard rock like Creed.

Below is a review of a select few tracks from the album, followed by my overall feelings on the album.

The album opens up with a track called “Tornado”, which has a very progressive metal sound to it. After a lighter 17 second intro, the main riff kicks in, so get ready for a “tornado”! (Pun intended). This song very much reminds me of Dream Theatre instrumentally. Anderson’s voice is powerful, yet very well balanced.

This song, to me, is about the fear of loss, particularly of a loved one. We can all relate to losing a loved one. That feeling of hopelessness in the face of such great sadness. Sometimes, death is self inflicted, and with that comes anger, confusion, hurt and sadness.

“Winds of death that bring me tears
Painful waters of an angry sea
Bear down on my hope
I think I cannot resist”

This part speaks to me on a personal level. I’ve had many losses of loved ones in my life, two of which were from suicide. When I lost two loved ones from suicide, it was more painful than I had ever imagined. The tears that flowed were out of pain, but also out of anger and the fear of “Could I have done anything differently?” These feelings would bear down on me to the point where I felt like I was drowning.

Another track that I really enjoy is “I’m Alive”. I love the symphonic metal intro with strings and guitar at the forefront. For me, this songs speaks of victory of those who try to knock us down. We’re all too familiar with that feeling; whether it be someone in your family, someone at work etc. For the longest time, I was in a very toxic work environment, surrounded by those who wanted to knock me down. Sometimes it’s out of jealousy, other times it’s just because the person trying to knock you down is insecure, and needs to make themselves feel above you.

“Just take your aim
And try to shoot me down
If you sow evil seeds
You will reap my revenge”

Too many times in that toxic work environment did I feel like I was being shot down, stabbed in the back, etc. To me though, I learned the hard way that it was only because I gave those people power over me by allowing them to shoot me down. The more evil they were towards me, the harder it got. But I eventually learned that my revenge came in the form of rising above them and being a better person than they were.

The next track that really jumps out at me musically is “King of Ice”. This song really has a Creed vibe to me. Between the instruments and the vocals, this song reminds me a lot of them. While I can’t personally relate to what the song speaks of lyrically, I very much enjoy the vocals and sound of this song. The melody, specifically in the chorus, is great!

The final track I’ll talk about is “Terminal”. This track musically is awesome, and I absolutely love the vocals on this one. This song, to me, talks about how fragile life can be, and how we spend our time is so important. While I wasn’t very close with him, my Father passed away from cancer when I was like 14 years old. At the time, I didn’t even know of his diagnosis until it was late in the stages. (My full brother and I lived with our Mom, so we hardly even saw Dad). We had spent some time over the years prior visiting, and building some sort of relationship, but once Mom found out about the Cancer, she kept us away for some time, just because she didn’t know how to tell us. When she finally did tell us, it was already close to the end. I maybe spoke to him once or twice on the phone before he passed away.

“If you knew that my condition is terminal
You would try to stop time
But we both know
Time had come”

This, to me, feels like my Dad saying this to me. If I had known his condition at all, I would’ve tried to have spent some more time with him before his time had come. (I have to add that I don’t in anyway blame my Mom for this. She did what she thought was best and I stand by her decision 100% because she always has our best interest in mind.). I do to this day though wonder what it would’ve been like to spend more time with him before he passed away.

I’m very happy I was told about this band by Jessica. I’ve always enjoyed this type of music and vocals and this band doesn’t disappoint! I really hope they make it big.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Review of Tarja’s ‘In the Raw’

Review © Jessica Clingempeel | CEO Of Ethereal Metal Webzine | Tarja's USA Admin

I have been a fan of Tarja’s since she has been with “the band”. I have followed her then and throughout her entire solo career. I have had the privilege to review most of her albums. As a huge music lover, I tend to stay with those who move me the most. Tarja, and many others already know that her music has been an earthly savior to me. Without her music I would have succumbed to the abused past, depression, to the suicidal thoughts. Even then, not every song of Tarja’s have moved me to the point of tears. Every album has its treasure, but for an entire album to move me can be hard. In the Raw has done that. This entire album has moved me to tears, and with every listen that passion I have for these tracks grow stronger. No artist has ever done this to me, NONE!

The album starts off with Dead Promises which many have already heard as it was released as the first single. The album version however features Björn “Speed” Strid who gives his own sound to the song. While Tarja’s solo version is great, Björn made it even better. I also have to mention the song is at its best live. The rawness and the power is greatly seen on stage.

The second track, Goodbye Stranger, also features another collaboration with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. This is a collaboration many fans have been wanting for years now and finally it has come to light. I don’t think this song would have worked without Cristina honestly. The melodies blend very well and each vocalist gives their own touch to the song.

The main track that won me over was the song You and I. It is a simple ballad accompanied by a piano, but the lyrics will pull at the heartstrings of the hardest metalhead. This song alone is what won me over without having even finished the album yet. Not everyone has that special someone, I never thought I would, but am blessed to now. Then it goes into the next track, flowing smoothly as if one full song, The Golden Chamber.

The Golden Chamber contains very few lyrics, which are in Finnish. The music and the humming of Tarja’s voice takes you to another world and even without many words tells a story. Tarja, being a huge fan of film music, integrated that into this song, and I think it could be used in a film.

I have to also give credit to everyone else who has worked on this album. The instrumentations are well blended and complement her voice well in this album. The orchestration is also very well done and put together. It would be interesting to hear just an all orchestral version of this album.

Without spoiling too much of this golden treasure I will end the review here. This album contains something for everyone, no matter what genre you are into. Some songs are heavy, some are not, but there are no flaws. That could be the fangirl in me talking though. Make your own opinion. Expect the unexpected.

Other album mentions: Tommy Karevik from Seventh Wonder/Kamelot and Carlinhos Brown.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Pre-order the album now at: https://tarja.tmstor.es/ Out August 30th, 2019.

Hyde: Live at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD | May 15th, 2019

Review © Jessica Clingempeel | CEO of Ethereal Metal Webzine | Tarja's USA Admin

Japanese rocker, Hyde, visited Maryland opening for acts Sevendust and In This Moment, along with Light the Torch as another opener. Hyde was the highlight of my evening as that was the main act I was going to see.

I have been a fan of Hyde for about 20 years, ever since he was the vocalist of the band L’Arc-en-Ciel. I was also a fan of Hyde’s acting career though I have only seen one movie, Moon Child, with Japanese rocker, Gackt. Having been a fan for so long as soon as I saw the show announcement I immediately went to see ticket prices. I was disappointed when no VIP tickets were confirmed for this particular date as a meeting would have been the cherry on the cake. My friend and I did manage to snap a photo of Hyde in his bus though. 😉

Though I was only there for Hyde, the other bands were great as well. I had never seen or even heard much of Light the Torch before the show, however they were really great and I have become an instant fan. Sevendust were another highlight as I have been a fan for a few years. Was really excited when they managed to sing two of my favourites! If you have never heard of Sevendust or Light the Torch do so now.

In This Moment, however, were a disappointment, at least for me. I use to be a fan of ITM with their previous albums, but the music doesn’t seem as important to them as much as the theatrics and presentation are now. Please guys, go back to the music. The props are too much and takes away from the lyrical content and the overall enjoyment of a live show experience. If I want to go see a play I will. I have to give you guys kudos for the finale though. That was the best part of your entire performance.

There were several others who were only there for Hyde as they left as soon as he was finished. Being my first Hyde live experience I was not disappointed. He puts on one hell of a performance, has a great voice live, and even likes to smash his own props (video below haha). If you have never heard of Hyde before but are a fan of jrock and awesome shows, please check this guy out. Another downside, apart from no VIP, was that we were literally at his bus, not many others around, and he did not come out. Come on man! How often do you come to the East Coast of the USA?

Even with the main act being a major disappointment, Hyde and the other bands made it worthwhile. If In This Moment had been playing alone, I would have been majorly disappointed! Next time give Hyde more show time. 😉

© Photos & Video belongs to Jessica Clingempeel