Review of Oceans of Slumber’s self-titled album


Review by Ryan Murray | September 1, 2020 | Official Facebook

Progressive metal band Oceans of Slumber, from Houston, Texas are releasing their self titled album “Oceans of Slumber” this Friday, September 4th 2020! 

This band has a unique sound that I absolutely love! While there is definitely a progressive metal feel to it, there are some elements of death metal, straight up hard rock and a melodic ballad feel at times as well. This is not your average, run of the mill progressive metal album, so get ready for some surprises!

Their press release states that “Oceans of Slumber” is a work that takes us on a journey to the inner struggles we all face, as well as the societal struggles we all face. There are cycles that hold us down and tear us apart, some that even give us anguish. The release also states that at some point we need to stop running from the pain and the truth that is brought about by these struggles. We can find peace in the light of this reflection. 

I had the awesome privilege of listening to this album in full prior to its release, and I can say that it’s an amazing journey! The power, emotion, rawness and strength gets a hold of you. Musically and vocally, this band is really well balanced! Everything from the band being really tight musically, to the blend and balance of the mastering/mixing, this album is set to go far with this lineup! 

My thoughts on the album are below.

The Soundtrack to My Last Day

This opening track is powerful. It starts out with just an electric guitar riff, but is quickly joined by pulse pounding drums and more distortion. And I absolutely love the time signature in parts of this song! The 7 feel really makes this song unique! There’s some heavy growling vocals as well with some pretty hard grooves.

While there are some really heavy parts on this track, the light and pulled back sections are beautiful and add such emotion.

Cammie’s vocals throughout most of the song are light and beautiful, but full of emotion. However, the power of her voice is shown at 5:39!

“Here I stand! 
The greatest hope
The great equalizer 
The queen of the lost”


There is one line that REALLY stood out to me. 
“In death, we are all equal”

This is such a powerful statement. To me, death is described as the “great equalizer” in this song. With so much division and hatred going on in this world currently, we need to see that we are all human. We need to be a voice for those who can’t speak and for those who are being silenced. We need to view those around us, no matter what color their skin is, no matter what their sexual orientation is and no matter what their beliefs are as equals.

Pray for Fire

This song brings it down a notch with an acoustic feel to start. When Cammie comes in at :36, she starts out light and airy, but slowly builds and builds throughout the song. The song gets a bit heavier as it progresses. Absolutely love the atmosphere that’s created on this track! Also, the drum fills are tight! 

The emotion and power behind this song really hit you hard. Just read the lyrics and listen through it, you’ll see what I mean. 

To me, this song is about praying for hate, inequality and racism to burn and to come to an end by any means necessary. With all of the hatred, racism and bigotry all over the world, it’s so easy to feel like you’re among thorns everywhere, and because of that, the climb to equality is a never ending up hill battle. This song is a cry to burn all of this to the ground.

“Dying and alone
My roots are buried deep
But here among the thorns
The climb is much too steep”

A Return To The Earth Below

This track starts out with kind of an eerie synth atmosphere. The vocals start off with a lot of power right from the first lyric and don’t stop all the way through the track. They only continue to grow. Even in moments when they are pulled back, the emotion is still just as powerful. 

The drums on this track are insanely good, especially in the beginning. Dobber really smoothly sits in the pocket, even during some pretty complicated fills. 

This song, to me, is about the inner struggles that we all face. At one point in our lives, we all face the fear that we aren’t good enough. We feel defeated by everything and everyone. We feel a hopelessness that eats at us to our core. We spend our whole lives running away from ourselves and allowing these lies to consume us. Instead of running into the darkness, we need to stand in the light. If we look inwards and face our fears head on, we can actually find an inner peace.

“I have spent my whole life running 
And I have tried, I have tried to flee from myself 
I could never, no I could never weather the storm 
That was rising, rising, rising from within me 
It doesn’t matter the time in between
Darkness carved its mark in me
Carved its mark in everything
But I’m done, I’m done running, 
I stand in the rain
Here I stand
Purge my fear, and make my claim”

Imperfect Divinity

This epic instrumental track, for me, really nails it. Starting out lightly, this track quickly builds in both volume and emotion. The dynamics really make this track even more powerful and meaningful.

Close your eyes while listening to this one. After just finishing a song about the inner struggles we face and the peace that comes from facing those struggles instead of running from them, this song, to me, encapsulates that victory of finding inner peace. Even if only for a moment in time before the world starts kicking us down again. 

The Adorned Fathomless Creation

It’s time to pick it up again with this track, which immediately starts with a punch to the gut. With growls and distorted guitars, this song hits hard right off the bat. 

From blast beats to Cammie’s vocals getting soulful at times, this track has an awesome mix of heart pounding metal and a more laid back almost soulful feel. Overall though, this one is aggressive to its core! 

To The Sea

This track starts out with bells tolling, then a lightly distorted guitar comes in with an amazing solo which actually lasts awhile and sounds amazing!  

Cammie’s vocals are once again really powerful throughout this track.

This song, to me, is about the battle against time. The calling of the bells, to me, is like a timer on our lives. A timer that is counting down until our last breath. Once we die, the ground ‘holds us’ and becomes ‘an ocean of slumber’ in which we’ll sleep forever. We need to spend our time wisely while still alive. We need to spend time doing things that are of importance and will make lasting change.

“The ground, it holds you in
An ocean of slumber
Forever you’ll sleep
But I’m there too, dreading 
The longing of those days gone by”

The Colors of Grace

This track has a more laid back sound, but the vocals are still just as powerful! This track also has an old school Lacuna Coil feel! Don’t let this more acoustic-like track fool you! It’s still really powerful, especially with the male clean vocals that harmonize throughout certain parts! 

This song is honestly one of my favorites. 

To me, this song talks about the power depression and a lack of self worth can have over us. Everyone faces the sting of regret and failure, some more than others. 

During my junior and senior years in high school, I faced a really bad depression. In my senior year, it got so bad I stopped going to school for over a month before I could make myself go back. After I left school after my senior year was complete, things got a little easier, but still had this weight of depression pulling me down. In 2008, I became a Christian and my life has changed so much. I bring this up because, while we all have something or someone that we find peace in, my peace is found in God and the grace that He provides me. It’s because of my faith that I have found true peace and true joy. 

“Holding on to everything you say
Cause’ your words they paint a picture of me
A beautiful one of what I could be
If I’d simply learn to shake away the blame
You save me from myself
You save me from myself“

I Mourn These Yellowed Leaves

Starting with just keys, followed by drums and distorted guitars, Cammie comes in nice and strong. Heavier distortion kicks in at about 2:17 and is met with some heavy growls at 2:26! I really like how Cammie comes in with the growls at 3:21.

I really like this song and had to listen to it a few times in a row because it kept drawing me back.

This song, for me, is about the seasons we go through in life. We all have our highs and we all have our lows. During those lows, it’s really easy to feel like falling wet fall leaves. Countless leaves fall from trees and coat the ground and eventually completely dry up and die. At our lowest, we feel like we can’t make it anymore. We feel as useless as leaves covering the ground. 

But for me, that’s not the end. Fall is actually my favorite season. One reason is that even though leaves die and fall, they grow back again. In our lowest moments, we have the opportunity to face our low point head on and to grow back better than we were before. There’s so much we can learn in these moments and in these seasons.

“The fires lit, night is now drawing in
We’ve settled down to try and warm ourselves
Everything’s dying now, only to be reborn again
But now we must wait, the seasons can’t be rushed”

Momentaria (September)

Another beautiful instrumental. This one is mostly just keys and strings. The strings from 2:50 and on are simply amazing. Go ahead and close your eyes and listen to this track beginning to end. 

Total Failure Apparatus

This track opens with strings creating an ominous atmosphere, but is then met with growls and distorted guitars. This song has a lot of death metal elements with fast trigger blast beats and in your face guitars and growling, but also has some really nice pulled back sections as well. 

For me, this song is about those dark and lonely paths we sometimes find our selves on. Sometimes, the right road to take is the hardest one to travel. You run into obstacles everywhere you go and get knocked down at every turn. When you’re on the right path, you have to persevere because getting knocked down will happen frequently, especially when fighting for what’s right. 

The Red Flower

This track is pulled way back. An almost dirge-like track is filled with many references to infertility and possibly even the “unwanted seedlings” of rape?

This track is steeped in emotion and heartbreak that is palpable even just at the surface. The more you listen, the more you feel the anguish. 

Wolfmoon 

The final track and a Type o Negative cover! Musically, not too much was changed, but I really like the crunchy distorted guitars in the OoS version! It’s got a more heavy and full sound! Cammie’s vocals sound amazing as well, and I really like her interpretation of the lyrical melody!

Verdict

I have to give this album a 4.9 out of 5! Though Oceans of Slumber is a progressive metal band, they are so much more than that as well! This album doesn’t fit into any one specific genre. It really blurs the lines of genres quite nicely! “Oceans of Slumber” is without a doubt a must hear masterpiece that doesn’t follow most genre-defining rules! 

“Oceans of Slumber” is out this Friday, September 4th 2020, don’t miss it! 

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 ‘Dead Promises’ Single


Several people wanted to write a review on this single for the webzine so you will be reading several here. Mine is first, enjoy and be sure to listen to the song (video at bottom, along with a sample of the album version feat. Bjorn from Soilwork) and order this album. Out Aug. 30th, 2019!

All Photography © Tim Tronckoe
Review © Jessica Clingempeel | CEO of Ethereal Metal Webzine | Tarja's USA Admin 

Dead Promises, given the context of the lyrics, has no bearings on Tarja’s promise to deliver a heavier and darker album. This track promises to deliver and succeed! The beginning starts out heavy, gets heavier in the middle, and ends heavy. The instrumentation meshes well with the melodic and emotional context of Tarja’s voice, making this song an outstanding first taste of what I assume will be the album to beat this year.

Instead of focusing on the musical elements of this album, since we already have several reviews, I will focus on the lyrical context and what this song means to me. A little bit of a personal story if you will.

We have all been given a dead promise or two or a thousand. Countries have been given many from the “leaders”. We have all fallen victim to such promises. I was the victim for most of my life, since early childhood. I was given broken promises by my father almost every time I would see him. The promise of love, safety and protection, being there for me. All those promises were dead, were empty. I never saw much love, I never had protection, he was barely ever there, and with him I experienced all kinds of abuse, if not by the hands of him, then by the women and their grown children he would take me around.

I was given dead promises by my ex. The relationship was nothing but control, fights, etc. One-sided, always about him, I was last. These two are just small examples of what I endured in life. Those men were the reasonings for my disbelief in love, my struggles with any kind of relationships (friendship or intimate), and my trust and hatred for humanity that kept getting worse. I had put up a wall and thought nothing or no one would ever get close to and hurt me again as long as I was in charge and kept that wall up. It was just recently I have learned to love again. I met a man that I never thought existed. He has been kind, loving, and every promise so far has been kept and fulfilled. I tore my wall down and gave him the chance. If I hadn’t I would not have ever seen true love.

This song challenges everyone and is a lesson for those of us who have been lied to and hurt. We have all fallen victim to someone and/or something. We can either keep the walls we have built up or we can tear them down, forgive those who hurt us (for us), and trust again. Otherwise we will never know what love is, a good life, nor ever see our dreams become reality. As always, Tarja has hit a personal level for me. She has been my earthly saviour, apart from my mother, because if it were not for her and her music, I would be dead today. I was on the verge of suicide so many times, use to self-harm, pull hair out, scream, cry, hate the world, but it was her music that saved me. This is why I am so loyal to this woman. This new album, after only one song, proves to be another fit for me on a personal and emotional level. As always Tarja, thank you. *

Review © China Tosin | Contributor of Ethereal Metal Webzine  

In short: Very guitar-based, riff-based, with a very important bitter message that hit the hearts of those who habitually break promises or have their promises let down, Tarja’s out there to retribute!

This song’s message seems to be about empty promises in relationships or family conflicts that are not fulfilled and it keeps adding up the pain when the promises keep creating expectations of improvement but not much effort in achieving. However, it can likely to apply outside interpersonal context too, such as unfulfilled political hopes, corporate failure in compensating their services. The line “Dead promises, games you play will kill your dreams…” sends a strong message about those who give empty promises will actually be the ones hurting, too. The vocals are pretty minimal compared to Tarja’s other songs that are a bit more complex, but executed it well, kept it concise, catchy, and powerful.

The music is on the heavier and faster side of her discography, very guitar-based and riff-based. The lead riffs, the main heavy riffs, and choice of sound give the song a “bitter” and “dry” feeling which fits the message. No solo in heavier Tarja songs had not ever been a bad thing, as this song gives you a varied and harmonized version of the lead riff near the end.

The dynamics of the song are very well plotted, as there are parts that the lead riffs playing alone giving excitement and build up, things get heavy on the main riffs and chorus. In the verses are laid down with less distorted guitar picking and bass guitar on higher register makes the song fit the “dry” feeling. *

Review © Jade | Reviewer of Ethereal Metal Webzine

Dead Promises, the first track released to the public from Tarja Turunen’s new album “In The Raw”, is a thunderous song with plenty of guitar and a traditional hard-rock feel. In The Raw is definitely an album title this song belongs on – the music and lyrics combined make for a very naked song, aggressive and not even having to put up a fight to get to the front of the musical line and be noticed. Tarja stated that this new album was going to be darker and heavier than previous albums, and she definitely delivers here.

Turunen’s powerful vocals shine brightly on this track, but the missing element was a heavier, darker vocal – a growl, if you will. From my quick review of the Album Version preview of Dead Promises, this is solved with the addition of Björn “Speed” Strid of SOILWORK. While the single version is a fantastic preview, the album version seems like it’s going to have that one extra element needed to make a perfect heavy metal song. (Though it’s been proven over and over again that Tarja Turunen shines beautifully on her own.)

Overall, Dead Promises was a perfect peek into what’s to come. A crowd pleaser to say the least (as it won a Metal Hammer poll for best new music in metal for the week of its release by a LANDSLIDE), I can say this much: we’re all dying to see it live.

Review © Zach Brehany | Contributor of Ethereal Metal Webzine

If this new single shows us everything, it looks like her promise of a Winter Storm is about to be unleashed with fury, anger, and the darkest corner of herself as a person. We’ve seen this transformation of a classical singer with an exceptional voice to her now being a powerhouse or a vocalist. And yet, years later, we are drawn back into her spell.

The last hard rock album she put out, The Shadow Self, was all about the darker Tarja and the sides of her that are deranged, emotional, and hidden beneath scars of damage she as endured as a performer. If this song is any indication of what the album will entell, we are about to start seeing the wounds uncovered and bloody. 

“Dead Promises” lyrically are as deep as any other song she has put out (brings to mind the lyrics to “I Walk Alone”, “Dark Star”, “Never Enough”, and “Innocence”). They are all recollections of her past with people, theorizing that they deal with Nightwish. When looked at it from that angle, this is a natural progression of herself as an artist: she is moving on, but won’t forget what happened to her for her to be where she is at now. 
The song does create a strong sense of sorrow when you are left thinking about all the promises people have made but keep on breaking. The message, I believe, is that we need to move on from all of that. Those that have betrayed us will no longer be able to continue living their best life because they built there’s off of lying, betrayals, and promises that amount to nothing. We will always have to deal with people like that, but they are not our problem; we don’t have the right to give ourselves to those kinds of people because they will only hold us back. Tarja is moving on from the past and that is what she is telling us to do. 

The instrumentation for this track is what threw me off the most. It feels like she is also moving away from her usual pure orchestration that was what started her career with both her Christmas album “Breath From Heaven*” and “My Winter Storm” and going back to the hard rock elements from “What Lies Beneath” and “Colours in the Dark”. This song isn’t about sounding as sweeping and operatic, but more in your face and out in the open. It’s an interesting choice, but I am left wondering how the rest of the album will play out.

This is a good look into the album and a song I’m sure will be a fan favorite. We are seeing Tarja transform more into the queen of hard rock that we know her as and it seems there is no way to go back. She’s hear to sucker punch us into looking deeper in ourselves and we can only hope that emotionally we will handle what it is like to strip ourselves from what we see and embrace what we find in the raw.  *

Overall Rating: 4.5/5