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 ‘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 Gentihaa’s “Reverse Entropy”

Review by Ryan Murray | January 23, 202

Gentihaa’s “Reverse Entropy” is a brutal assault on your senses! This album is difficult to place under any specific sub genre of metal, but has got it all musically – from thrash riffs, to metalcore, to extreme metal, to symphonic metal. Vocally it’s a mix between brutal vocals to melodic metal vocals. As described by the band, the vocalist André is dealing with a story. “Lyrically, André is dealing with a story found in a well-hidden corner of the web, dealing with 8 pills that give different “super powers” to 8 random individuals, leading them to the distant future just to find out that the Earth is destroyed, and then all of them trying to reverse the entropy with the help of the master (Alpha) through the guidance of the one (Singularity).”

Serum – The opening track is an instrumental and gives you a feel of where this album will go on the melodic metal side. The guitars in harmonies kick in at :16 seconds in and then drums at :37 to give it a heavier feel. It’s time to take a journey to the future!

Empathy – This track kicks off with kind of a thrash/metal core feel right away! The melodic vocals in this song easily remind me of Symphony X. The intro gives me an “All That Remains” vibe. The vocals are a mix between melodic and brutal throughout. For me, this song talks about the destruction that will come in the future from a lack of empathy. 

“No one is fully mindful
Of each one’s perfect structure
She’s the one who can truly see it
Holding on to sanity.”

To me, this speaks to the human condition. None of us at any given time is ever really fully mindful of others. As humans, we all tend to slip into a pattern of apathy. With empathy, this allows us to hold on to sanity because we step out of ourselves and we put others ahead of ourselves. 

Vision – This song starts out a bit more dirge like with a demonic like speaking of lyrics. There’s a lot of orchestral strings in the background of this track and I really like what that adds! This song, for me, speaks to the fact that as humans, when we’re empathetic towards others, we want to help save others from their apathy and selfishness. Try as we may though, we can’t change people.  

“Swore to myself that I’d save all of you
But things humans can do were never enough
Swore to myself I’ll reverse entropy
So I’m seeking God no one else it can be.”

This line speaks to me a lot.  As a Christian, I rely on my relationship with God to get me through everything. I find that God helps me to ‘reverse entropy’ whenever I feel a lack of order to things.  When things around us seem to be confusing and lacking purpose, we can turn to God for purpose and meaning. The song seems to agree with that in the line “so I’m seeking God no one else it can be.”

Metamorphosis – This song starts out a bit softer, but doesn’t stay that way when the guitars kick in at :29. The tempo is down just a bit on this song, but that doesn’t take away from the power. This song, for me, talks about the bondage of having enemies, which once again can lead to destruction. 

“Fantasy
Becoming alive
Enemy
Everyone I find 
Reality
Suddenly it hits me
I am free
From the human chains“

It seems we have a choice of either living in a fantasy or living in reality. More than that, we can also make our reality free of the human chains of apathy. 

Alpha – This one starts off light, but doesn’t last long until the heavy groove kicks in! Absolutely love the backing strings in this track! This song has some metalcore and thrash beats. This song, for me, talks about how important it is to be careful with what we do with our time here on earth, and that if we aren’t careful, we’ll wake up to realize that we’ve wasted our time with the things that don’t really matter.

“Woke up one day and there it was
The life I lost in my palms
When she touched me with her hands
I knew I’d give my life for her”

What will we do with our time here? If we aren’t careful, we’ll wake up to see that we did nothing of importance. We need to wake up and step out of apathy and into empathy.

Beyond – An ethereal intro gives way to some brutal riffs! This song, at times reminds me of Cradle of Filth/Dimmu Borgir musically. For me, this song is about looking everywhere, far and wide for anything to set us free from destruction. Looking “way across the galaxy for anything that will set her free.”  

“My Lord
God save us all
We’re all alone
We are all alone
If only you told me what to do
God save us all
If only you showed me the way to
We are all alone.”

To me, this is about looking in the wrong places for guidance and direction. If we chose to look in the wrong places, we feel alone and ignored. If we look to God to save us all from apathy and destruction, we can escape the human chains.  

Command – This is an interesting song. The guitar parts in the beginning are melodic and harmonizing, but heavy! A lot of brutal/heavy vocals throughout as well. At about 1:57 however, there’s a nice acoustic sounding part with cleaner vocals. 

“You will be my eternal slave
Give me yourself we will be here forever.”

This, to me, speaks about being an eternal slave to time. If we let time use us, instead of us using our time wisely, we can very easily end up stuck forever with a wasted life, waking up one day and wondering what happened with our time. This is all about the choices we make.  

Mastery – This song starts off a bit slower then the previous track, but still has an epic sound to it right from the start. A lot of tremolo picking throughout gives it a death metal vibe, but with some clean vocals too. This song, to me, is about those of us who put ourselves over others with our thoughts and actions. Those of us who make ourselves out to be better than everyone else. These types of people seem to be more and more prevalent and could lead to destruction in our future. 

“He’s tired of all the
Incompetence of the World
Bow before me
You bunch of lowly ants.”

This line, to me, speaks about people who think they are better than others. Those who act this way tend to tear others down with their words and actions.

I personally have dealt with people like this. People who are toxic and feel that they are better than everyone else. People who can’t accept blame for how they are, but instead they blame it on others. People who think they can never do any wrong. It’s toxic people like that that lead to others’ self destruction. We need to make the choice to distance ourselves from people like that and not allow them to break us down.

Singularity – The final track. This track starts out with an acoustic sound and clean vocals. At about 1:50, the guitars and drums really kick in and the brutal vocals come in. Getting a glimpse into the future through the singularity, one sees a future controlled by machines. For me, this song is about the technological strides we’ve made, and how our reliance on artificial intelligence, while a good thing, can also be bad if we aren’t careful.

“I control
The machine of mankind
I will rule
I have the power to control
And to rule
The machine of mankind
I am the singularity.”

Artificial intelligence is all around us. Smart TV’s, Smart Phones, Siri, Alexa and so much more. Technology is a good thing when we use it as a tool, but we need to be careful because while technology is a positive tool, it can quickly takeover us. Instead of the technology being a slave to us, we become slaves to technology.

While I had never heard of Gentihaa before, this album was absolutely worth a listen! This album combines all sorts of metal – from metalcore, thrash, extreme and symphonic metal, as well as brutal and melodic vocals. “Reverse Entropy” also has a lot of harmonizing guitars and orchestral strings in the background. (which I always love!)

I give this album 3.5 out of 5.0 stars. If you haven’t listened to “Reverse Entropy” by Genthiaa, please be sure to give it a listen!

Review of Tarja’s Christmas Show in Tampere

Review, Photos, & Videos by Jessica Clingempeel | December 17, 2019

If you are looking for a great Christmas experience, then catch one of Tarja’s Christmas shows. I have been wanting to catch one of Tarja’s classical/Christmas shows and finally this year I was able to mark that off my bucket list. I had tickets for her last two shows, plus a ticket to Raskasta Joulua at the Hartwall Arena where she was supposed to participate. Unfortunately, two shows were cancelled due to illness.

The Tampere show ended up being Tarja’s last show of her Finnish Christmas tour. She had been battling the flu for a while, and after Tampere she just could not go on. When watching her perform you would never know she was sick. She made those high notes seem effortless and the entire night was spectacular. She was dressed in a beautiful black gown and a smile stayed on her face the entire night.

Her setlist included many favourites from both of her Christmas albums from ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ to classic Finnish songs from her first Christmas album, Henkäys Ikuisuudesta and several Ave Marias. My favourite of the night had to be What Child is This. Tarja was accompanied by three other known musicians; Max Lilja (cello), Julian Barrett (guitars), and Guillermo De Medio (keyboards); who did an outstanding band solo of Little Drummer Boy.

The venue, Tampere Cathedral, was a beautiful church which made the atmosphere more magnificent. The church was also filled with fans, both local and international. The show sent chills down my spine as her voice filled the entire cathedral. I left that night in awe and wish it hadn’t ended. I was looking forward to the next night in Kuusankoski, but as said before, was cancelled understandably. I hope to catch more Christmas shows next year as it is an experience to not miss.

Below, exclusive videos by me. Please only share the youtube links or the webzine. Uploading anywhere else is prohibited.

Review of Stitched Up Heart’s Show in Cleveland

© Review, Photo, & Videos by Joshua Becker | December 9th, 2019

December 3, 2019
Stitched Up Heart Concert Review
Cleveland, Ohio House of Blues

Venue: The last concert I had, 3Teeth, I had some issues with the venue an my ticket and photo pass, to where I had to get the tour manager to interrupt what he was doing to get me settled. This time around, everything was already waiting for me.

Intro: I went to a concert at the Cleveland House of Blues on December 3rd to see Stitched Up Heart. What will follow are my experiences and overall impressions of the feature.

Start: For the first few songs I was in the photo pit, I was in awe. To start with, Mixi, from the very beginning, was already going out on stage full force and rousing the crowd.

Light Shows: The light shows at House of Blues always seem so stunning, but this feature was the best I have seen so far. There was this almost constant pulsating red light throughout the songs that further added to the
allure.

Fans: “Mixi”, not missing a beat started to interact with the group, pointing at people singing along in the audience, raising hands up to capture the crowd’s interest, twirling around on stage.

Outfit: “Mixi” had on these sequined black pants, and I could not ignore how sparkly and beautiful they were.

Overall: My overall impression of the show was I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of Stitched Up Heart’s performance, and I want them to come back to Cleveland soon because I had an amazing time, and writing this review made those memories flood back.

Even though I am a reviewer, I still appreciate the shows for what they are. In fact, the songs they played, I actually looked up when I got home, and since, I am now a fan of them as well. How awesome is that?!

Clips:

Review of ‘Crossing Parallels’ by Deep as Ocean

Review by Ryan Murray | December 1, 2019

While I’ve never heard of these guys, Deep As Ocean has got to be one of the best metal bands I’ve heard in a long time!  Deep As Ocean easily reminds me of great bands such as Breaking Benjamin, All That Remains, As I Lay Dying, Three Days Grace (w/ Adam Gontier) and others.  The clean vocals on the album strongly remind me of a cross between Adam Gontier (Ex: Three Days Grace, Currently Saint Asonia) and John Cooper (Skillet).

Crossing Parallels – A title track as an intro, I love it!  This 1:39 long intro starts out with an ethereal sound that give you the feeling of crossing into a different dimension.  A bit of a beat starts to kick in around :19 seconds and then the guitars and drums fill out the ethereal sounds and give this intro some more atmosphere.  This gives the listener a small idea as to where the album is going musically. The last :22 seconds pull it right back to the ethereal sound that we opened with, with a light guitar and synth pulse in the background.  

Hourglass – This song features Mattéo Gelsomino of Novelists and hits hard right away at :14 seconds in!  The guitars in this song are killer! To me, the title for this track is perfect! I feel this song is about how limited our time is. We only have so much time, and what we do with it really matters.  Life is choices, right?

“Break free
How many voices’ left unspoken?
Break free
How many tears we’ve shed and left unheard?
Freedom has it’s costs, nothing is for granted
We don’t pull the reins, we are dragged down
Grain by grain we are becoming
The sandy bottom
Of the hourglass”

This chorus really speaks to me.  A few years ago, I faced a really toxic work environment.  I had a choice to make. I could let the voices destroy me and allow them to break me down, or I could chose to break free.  If we don’t take control of these situations, we get dragged down by them. I would no longer remain ‘unspoken’ and I chose to rise above and was able to break free.  

Knives & Flames – This song starts out aggressively vocally, and it’s a perfect fit for the meaning I take away from it.  For me, this song is about being betrayed and the feeling of betrayal. We all have faced that person who we’ve trusted for a long time.  That person that we’ve unguarded our hearts around and let our guard down. That person that we’ve trusted like family, only to have them stab us in the back.  Like fire, when we’re stabbed in the back by people we’ve entrusted our hearts to, (family, close friends, significant other, etc..) it burns.

“I’m tired of lying
And sayin’ everything is fine
I’m tired of lying
And sayin’ everything is fine
It’s like playing with fire
Until it burns inside
Trust has a cost
And I will be cold as a knife
I give up
pretending
I don’t know anything
I’ve forgiven
you once…”

I, as I’m sure many of us can relate to this.  Sometimes, we’re so hurt by things that we foolishly seek revenge.  But does revenge really solve anything? For me, this song is not only about the feeling of betrayal, but also what we chose to do with being betrayed.

Oblivion – This song starts off with clean vocals and screaming vocals at the same time.  After the vocal 4 measure intro with some underlying synth, the main riff kicks in, which kinda reminds me of Breaking Benjamin.  

We all make mistakes, but do we ever learn from them?  Sometimes we make the same mistakes over and over again without ever learning anything.  The writer of this songs seems to feel that we’re headed for our own demise, or “oblivion”, if we don’t learn from our mistakes.  It’s a pattern of self destructive behavior that needs to be broken.  

“Oblivion
How can we get there?
Have we not suffered enough?
We have never learned
from the faults of it all.”

We’ve all gotten to a point this point where we continuously suffer from the same mistakes over and over again, yet we’re sometimes too stubborn to want to fix anything and learn from our past decisions.

The Sinking Ship – This song has a more ethereal intro, but kicks into its main groove at about :17 seconds in. If this song isn’t a wake up call, I don’t know what is!  As a society, we’ve become complacent, apathetic and careless. I feel like although the song seems to call us ‘the sinking ship’, that it also talks about the ability to fight back against that downward spiral and to fight our way back.

“We are the sinking ship
I refuse to sink
Into this poisoned sea
At least I’m trying to swim.”

Whenever I feel myself falling into a pattern of complacency and apathy, I “refuse to sink”.  We need to first be aware that we’re falling into this pattern and need to care enough to want to rise above it.

Underwater – This song starts with its main riff right off the bat, and it’s catchy and right in your face.  About :20 seconds in the vocals start off aggressive, but has a great balance with clean vocals overlaying! This song, for me, is about the false sense of security we all can get from loneliness.  Sometimes when life gets too difficult, we tend to go into our shell of wanting to be alone, and we tend to shut people out, especially those who truly care for us.

“My enemy
Is my loneliness
It resides in me
It’s invisible
My enemy
A part of me
I can’t escape it…”

Our loneliness isn’t always visible, and it eats away at us from the inside out.  When we’re facing “the abyss”, we need to first realize that our enemy is loneliness, then we need to surround ourselves with those we love and trust to help redirect us.  For me, I also lean on my faith as a Christian when I’m facing difficulties that drag me down.  

Feels Like Nothing – Featuring Andy Pali of Sharks In Your Mouth, this song starts off with an ethereal sound with electric guitar and synth droning on Bb creating an awesome atmosphere.  The main riff kicks in at :18 seconds and doesn’t disappoint!  

The band says this song is influenced by the series “13 Reasons Why” and also the death of Chester Bennington.  

For me, this song encourages empathy towards those who suffer with mental illness and depression.  So many are quick to judge, but instead we need to be loving and understanding and to be there for those suffering.  We also need to understand that at times, people are so far down that they have a hard time receiving love and support.  

“How can I love myself?
I was too blind to see all the love I got from y’all” 

We also need to understand that at times, people are so far down that they are blinded to the love and support they are receiving.

“I felt alone and maybe the only one
When I tied the noose
Too late”

This line really hits hard for me.  I lost my God-Mother to suicide by hanging and to this day, I have mixed emotions.  On one hand I still feel anger and hurt, but on the other, I try to put myself into her shoes.  I still to this day try to understand what she was facing that she felt that helpless and desperate.

Floating Anchor – This track is definitely one of my favorites on this album!  It starts off a bit differently with what sounds like muted guitars, but quickly kicks into high gear at :6 seconds with the main riff and vocals.  

In this journey we call life, we all need to find our purpose and we look for meaning in our lives in different places. A lot of times though we struggle with things in life, and feel like we have no where to turn.  As a Christian, this song actually really speaks to me, because I feel that my faith in God is my anchor. 

“Find a way to feel alive
Your best reason to survive
Fight the war you have inside
No matter how long you have to try
If you don’t try you will never succeed
Standing still is a passive acceptance
Of the defeat, so pick your guns up
Aim what you want and take your best shot…”

For me, this part really speaks to me.  When I was younger, I went through a lot of verbal abuse in school, as well as some physical bullying.  I went through life angry and alone. I was even angry at God for the longest time. In 2008, everything changed for me.  The anchor that was holding me down, the fear of rejection, became my salvation when I realized that my salvation was found in God.  He took all of the fear, shame and rejection that I had felt for so long and changed my perspective on life.

Black Rose – And here we are at the end of the album and what an end it is!  This track, for me, is a not so typical love song. Not only is the song saying that a loved one is a light in difficult times, it’s also saying that you have to put work into the relationship to keep it alive. Even when facing difficulties, we need to stay alive and focused on putting work into the relationship to keep it working. 

This song actually has mostly clean vocals and some nice synth grooves throughout.  Another favorite for sure!

“A rose with no thorns
Is incomplete
It’s like something missing
As well as our love
I feel it stings
Reminds us we’re alive
You’re the light that
Illuminates my eyes
You’re the light that
never ends to shine…”

“Black Rose” is a perfect title for this song.  Just like a rose with no thorns is incomplete, a life without some strife doesn’t exist.  The lines above remind us that love stings at times, but it reminds us that we’re alive. Just because we face hard times in love, doesn’t mean that we still don’t need each other.  

Deep As Ocean has created an awesome work in “Crossing Parallels”!  This album is a great blend of power, harsh vocals, clean vocals and melodies.  I HIGHLY recommend this album for any fans of bands such as Breaking Benjamin, As I Lay Dying, All That Remains, Three Days Grace and others alike. I give this album 4.9 out of 5.0 stars!  

“Crossing Parallels” is set to release December 13th, 2019, so be sure to check it out!

Official Band Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deepasocean/