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 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

Within Temptation – Resist Review

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By Jade
2/11/2019

Dutch symphonic metal group Within Temptation are back with their seventh studio album, but word these days is that they no longer refer to themselves as ‘symphonic metal.’ RESIST takes their traditional habit of incorporating various genres into their music and multiplies it by a thousand in the form of a ten-track album. Not a long enough album for you? Surprise yourself. The content of the tracks may be enough to satisfy you the same way a longer album would, especially with songs upwards of nearly six minutes. Whereas listeners are right to expect metal, symphonic metal, and goth metal, RESIST offers up something we may or may not have noticed in their previous work: a focus on electronics and some underlying pop influences roughed up into an interesting presentation into the rock scene.

Opening this newer sound is THE RECKONING featuring Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach. An interesting duet that could arguably be the strongest track of the album, depending on who you ask. The war-tone of the track features an almost trumpet-sounding overlay that sounds roughed up to fit in a traditional rock form, and the method just works. The blend of clear vocals from Sharon den Adel mixed with the darker tone from Shaddix is the highlight of this track, but there is much to love from the entirety.

ENDLESS WAR is immediately different, but the listener would have to pay close attention to pick up on one of the used instruments here: there is an underlying piano that can be heard in the outro, but upon a few listens and some straining, exists underneath the rest of the surprisingly smooth mainstream take.

RAISE YOUR BANNER featuring Anders Friden of IN FLAMES goes back to the established war-tone we started with in The Reckoning. If the concept of the album is to push back against the forces holding us down these days, this song captures that perfectly. We have a guitar solo in this one (which we lack on most, if not all other tracks) that very much pumps the energy into the concept. Sharon’s voice really brings home a sense of power and resistance that gives the album a great kick with RAISE YOUR BANNER, especially with her Mother-Earth style outro.

The ever-popular SUPERNOVA, which fans in Europe got a live taste of during their 2018 tour, hits square in the chest as one of the most powerful songs on the album. Even the instrumental is enough to reach up and slap you in the face, demanding you tell it the main genre it is reaching for and feeling rightly accomplished when you can’t. With Supernova, Within Temptation has taken different genres that one might cringe to hear together and blended into something that offers such a pleasant surprise that we’re sure even Within Temptation themselves are pleased. Based on fan reaction, it could even be the band’s most popular song on the album.

HOLY GROUND takes a different turn and brings the listener a sense of what ‘angry Sharon’ would sound like. While the chosen vocal style may not sit well with some, the lyrics and message make up a song that could very well be open to interpretation from the listener. A sense of electronics overlay this track with what sounds like a go-to formula for the chorus. All in all, 50/50 for who will like it and who won’t, but a powerful track nonetheless.

IN VAIN is arguably the most “pop” track on RESIST. It follows a very simple structure both musically and lyrically, full of repetitions of instruments that have the song blending into something generally unmemorable. The lyrics are predictable and simple, but sometimes simple is better. While it isn’t the strongest song on the album, it certainly isn’t the weakest, and could lend to some light listening when the listener isn’t looking for something too intense.

FIRELIGHT, a track too dark for Sharon den Adel’s solo album MY INDIGO, was roughed up and placed on RESIST. As a stand-alone track, it is beautiful and haunting and the lyrics lend to an interesting take on pain and life. Does it fit with RESIST and its concept? Some say it could, but if it were trying to be as bold-faced as the other tracks, the resounding answer would be no. The ‘dark pop’ tones are an interesting choice for the meaning of the song, however, and if a listener who may not like it tied to RESIST can separate it and treat it as a stand-alone or a B-Side to MY INDIGO, it may have a lot of potential to be great.

MAD WORLD can be considered another one of the most “pop” tracks on this album. In the reviewer’s opinion, it’s the weakest on the album, though I highly encourage everyone to give it a chance. Public consensus is that it actually isn’t and that it’s enjoyable. Like IN VAIN, it seems to follow a simple, repetitive formula, but consists of lyrics that aren’t all that memorable. You may or may not be humming it to yourself later. Another 50/50 on whether or not the listener will enjoy.

There are certainly hints to Sharon’s father’s passing on this album, but none highlight it more than MERCY MIRROR. A ballad of sorts, Sharon delivers lyrics of grief and loss, and it definitely hits home. A song everyone who has experienced some kind of loss can relate to, it has the potential to be the strongest in terms of genuine emotion. “It’s a wicked game life plays,” indeed.

Finally, TROPHY HUNTER comes to a pretty close tie with SUPERNOVA as being the strongest track on RESIST. It’s certainly the heaviest next to The Reckoning, especially with the guitars becoming audible once more in the beginning and the drums reminding us, “WE EXIST!” Paired with a memorable bridge and a fun chorus to sing, and Sharon den Adel’s voice soaring above and taking the listener hostage for the whole 5:51 song, it’s a winner that was definitely best saved for last. Ending on a heavy note to remind us who they are? A pretty Within Temptation thing to do.

The biggest argument with this record looks to be the lack of guitars and the muted drums. Metal fans may be disappointed, as this album explores many different genres and blends them together into one sound, and the songs themselves have the tendency of all sounding the same at times. Overall, however, if treated like the experiment Within Temptation meant it to be, it is a truly fun album to listen to in order to get your energy flowing. Its Top 20 chart rankings all over the world say that much!

 Rating: 3/5

Review of  Andhera, One Day Waiting, Raven Black, Jinjer, DevilDriver Show in PA

Review by Bridget Taylor
11/11/2018

Basic
Information:

Outlaws ‘Til
The End Tour

Wednesday, 7
November, 2018 – Chameleon Club

Murder Method
Andhera –
December 7th, Reading PA
One Day Waiting
– finishing up the year on tour with OTEP
Raven Black
Jinjer
Devildriver

Review:

I had the
pleasure of traveling to Lancaster, PA for the “Outlaws ‘Til The End”
Tour – headlined by Devildriver, with support by Jinjer and Raven Black.
Additional (local) openers for the Chameleon Club were One Day Waiting,
Andhera, and Murder Method.

Chameleon Club
is located at 223 N Water St in Lancaster, PA. It shares ownership with the
Lizard Lounge, which caused a little confusion as to which line was which (two
events happening at the same time.) They have a main floor and upper floor for
viewing the stage; a mid-sized building for shows. The staff was very
professional, and easy to get along with. I recommend going to a concert here
at least once. 4.5/5

The first band
up was Murder Method. Hailing from York, PA, the band comprises of members Rob
Conover on vocals, Greg Anthony on Guitar, Randy Henry on Guitar, Kevin Day on
Drums, and Brad Micheal on Bass. They describe themselves as “Old School
Death Metal” and wear band shirts of that variety (Cannibal Corpse,
Deicide, etc.)

The first band
never gets a long set, and only 5 songs were played (one being a long
instrumental.) Kevin had an injured foot, and Brad didn’t play at all (only
being introduced at the end of the set – apparently he had just arrived or was
in the crowd the whole time.) Despite those incidents, you could definitely
hear the influence in their playing.

You can find
Murder Method on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Murder-Method-2022690871315904/ (Make sure to
watch their videos!)


Setlist:
Film the kill
Fiend for flesh
Hide the bodies 
Casket dreams 
Hypocrite
domain

Following next
was Andhera. Claiming Lancaster PA as their turf, they even have shirts for
sale to represent the area. The band comprises of a drummer, bassist,
guitarist, and vocalist who go by rune symbols. They definitely brought an
energy before the main event, and lots of jokes were cracked in between songs.
They played songs from both of their EPs, Liminality and Firewalker. During the
last song, the vocalist hopped off stage and sang across the barrier.
You can join their cult at: https://www.andheraband.com
https://www.facebook.com/andheraband/


Setlist:

Firewalker
Departure
Voice Like
Light
New Mantra/New
Savage
Refluence

Closing out the
local openers were One Day Waiting. Tyler Kray (Vocalist), Nick Cozzolino
(Guitarist),  Zach Ballantine (Bass), and Griffin Silvestro (Drums)
traveled from Hudson Valley, New York, to give us a hard rock speculation.
Their whole show was energetic, from start to finish. Nonstop headbanging,
hardcore dancing, and even at one point, playing instruments in the crowd. The
crowd was feeling it, as the mosh pits that started were widening until the
people on the barrier could feel them. Catch these guys as they kick off their
tour with OTEP soon. If you can’t, find them on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/OneDayWaiting/
https://onedaywaiting.bandcamp.com/

Setlist:
K.L.
Bodies (Drowning Pool cover)
Dying for the Truth
Better off
New song (first time live – the band is letting the fans help pick the title
name.)

Raven Black was
next on perform. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, this band lives up to
its name as “A Dark Metal Carnival.” Expertly blending in theatrics with a
creepy carnival motif and metal music, Raven (Vocals), Muppet (Drums/Vocals),
The Doctor (Lead Guitar), and Stitches (Bass) have released an EP (Seven Sins)
and an album (13), both which we heard songs from.

From the get go, Raven Black caught our attention by carrying props to the
stage; we later found that Raven would sing while holding them, each prop to
its own song. While smokescreens and dark lighting complemented the theme, it
was the theatrics of each member that really sealed the deal. The makeup vibed
with the music, and the variety of each song never left a feeling of, “Didn’t
we just hear this?” They may had not headlined, but they quickly became a crowd
favourite (THE crowd favourite?) by the end of the night.
Follow your new favourite carnies at: https://www.facebook.com/ravenblackband/
https://www.ravenblackband.com

Setlist:
Spider
13
Sticks N Stones
Dollhouse
Damaged
Nothing
Break The Box
Monster
Seven Sins

I would argue
that most of the crowd came for the next band, Jinjer. Hailing from the
Ukraine, the members are Tatiana Shmailyuk (vocals), Roman Ibramkhalilov
(guitars), Eugene Kostyuk (bass), and Vladislav Ulasevish (drums.) Their sound
is a mix of progressive and groove metal, with Tatiana both singing and
growling in tune of the music.

We were treated with the setlist being half from their King of Everything
album, a song from Cloud Factory, and three new songs (Ape, Perennial, and
Dreadful Moments.) Tatiana played up the stage, both headbanging and hip
swaying as the band jammed and captivated the audiences. The moshes only got
more hectic as the songs continued. If you didn’t know who Jinjer was prior to
the show, you sure as hell knew after you left.

After this tour, you can catch Jinjer in South America and back across the seas
in Europe. Find all the details at: https://www.facebook.com/JinjerOfficial/
https://jinjer.bigcartel.com


Setlist:

Words of Wisdom
Ape
I Speak Astronomy
Dreadful Moments
Pisces
Who Is Gonna Be The One
Perennial
Sit, Stay, Rollover

Once Jinjer
finished, a few people had left, but the crowd was still rowdy and anxious for
Devildriver. DevilDriver is an American heavy metal band from Santa Barbara,
California; they consist of vocalist Dez Fafara, guitarists Mike Spreitzer and
Neal Tiemann, drummer Austin D’Amond, and bassist Diego Ibarra.

Devildriver wasted no time starting the set. As Dez said, he’d rather “play
than talk”, so we got a variety and long setlist (including two covers.) As
appreciative I was to hear their songs, the stage presence was missing compared
to the prior two bands. It didn’t matter, as the crowd was in their hands. They
finished with a powerful gusto and smattering applause.
Devildriver can be found at:  https://www.facebook.com/devildriver/
https://www.devildriver.com/

Ruthless
Hold Back The Day
Fighting Words

Head Onto
Heartache (Let Them Rot)
Whiskey River (Willie Nelson cover)
Grin Fucked
My Night Sky

Sail
(AWOLNATION cover)
Hangman’s Noose
I Could Care Less

Clouds Over
California

Encore:
End of the Line
The Mountain

—I WALK ALONE: FROM RONNIE JAMES DIO TO TARJA AND BACK TO DIO—

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Review by Zach Brehany
9/18/18

As a child growing up, I remember that a very dear and special musician to me was Ronnie James Dio. It didn’t matter to me if he was in Rainbow, Black Sabbath, solo, or Heaven & Hell. If it was his voice, I was hooked. There was always something theatrical about his lyrics, his presence on stage, and a voice that sounds both like an angel and a demon.

Back when I was in music class, I ended up learning that as he was learning how to sing, he would you various opera singers from the past to be his inspiration, a main one being Mario Lanzo. With my knowledge of rock/ metal singers, it usually goes back to jazz and the blues. So, when I learned what inspired Dio’s musical styles, I was a bit in shock and flabbergasted. I was young and this was all new to me.

While looking into his theatrical techniques, I started looking deeper into hard rock and heavy metal. It was usually whoever Dio influenced. But then, one day when I was bored, I learned of Tarja from her performance in Nightwish’s End of an Era. That was my second musical love. I was just obsessed.

When Dio sadly passed away in 2008, I turned to symphonic metal more and more until I was listening to the top three queens of Symphonic Metal* (Tarja, Simone Simons, Sharon den Adel). During this time, I was starting to venture out into male vocal variations of this genre. The only one I really found that stuck with me was Kamelot’s Ghost Opera album. But then, I learned of someone.

The artist was named Jorn and as far as I was concerned, he could be the next Dio. He had that presence, that personality, even down to the most simple of vocal qualities. I felt reborn again. So, for a while I listened to him until I got to Tarja’s solo albums. After becoming as much as a fanatic as I am now, I decided to relive some nostalgia by listening to the bands I grew up with.

Jorn came up again due to the Dio connection and the amount of covers and tributes he has done for the man. But I decided to listen to one of his albums I completely forgot about: Spirit Black. One day I am going to want to write out my thoughts on the album, but the short version is that it is wonderful. Great sound, great lyrics, and great cover.

That cover I referenced was his take on Tarja’s I Walk Alone. That is the purpose of this editorial.

When the track started to play, I thought it sounded a bit familiar as if it was a ghost from my past. As the instrumental continued on, I started figuring out what was off. And then, Jorn’s majestic voice sung out: Put all of your angels on the edge… I started to laugh.

I was laughing so hard I had to step outside and indulge in a cigarette, something I rarely do now a days. After a few moments of calming down, I went back inside and in complete seriousness, I heard his cover from beginning to end.

Once the song was done and over with, I just had a smile on my face. It was like a breath of fresh air. There is no denying or even arguing how great the original one is. It is actually one of the songs that are in my ‘Great Symphonic Metal Songs’. But I feel like doing a right up on this cover because it pulls things into full circle back when I said everything I did about Ronnie Jame Dio.

But first, the thoughts on the cover. It is interesting hearing those lyrics in a different context. The change in performer in a song can alter the mood, the vibes, even the meaning can be changed. A great example of this to check out is Lana del Ray’s and Jessica Lange’s cover of Gods and Monsters. Both great, but for different meanings.

That is the vibe from this version. With Jorn’s voice and the lack of symphonic orchestration, what we have is a more darker, grittier version. Here, we get an image of a powerful man. Maybe a great leader, maybe a powerful boss, whoever knows. As the song progress, he gives off a vibe that he is probably at his local, cheap bar that has the usual crew of rednecks. The ones that sit in the same booth, whistling away at an old tune.

Jorn is thinking about his past. A great love that got away? A world he once had power and control in? Maybe just at a darker and deeper moment in his existence. As he blasts the lyrics out, you start to feel his inner rage, his inner turmoil boiling up until, he just doesn’t care anymore. What has been done is done and there is no use in going back.

With the original with Tarja, her version always gave off a feeling of regret and yet hope for a better time, and better life. But first, having to officially close the door on one chapter of her career. The original is one of the most hopeful songs I have ever heard and it stills gives me complete and wondrous faith.

They are both very different, yet they are still the same. Both of them have theatrics, both of them have a personality, it was just simply an enlightening experience. Though, to wrap up that original introduction, it’s funny how, in a way, opera had played a great deal into the history of rock music. With Lanzo being passed on to Dio, to classical opera performers influencing Tarja**, to Dio influencing a metal vocalist who became influenced by Tarja.

Like a lot of media, people to tend to forget that there is a history behind the art form. Some people think that the history of books started with The Bible, some think Star Wars was the start of treating film seriously. But if we all were to take a step back and navigate the roots of the people who inspire us, it could lead to some interesting creations and thought provoking questions about music, art, and how it can help change us and our view points on existence.

Overall Rating: 5/5

*For me personally, those are the three queens/ best of female symphonic metal.

**I am aware that Tarja has had a lot more influences, but I focused on the classical side as it pretrained to the conversation at hand.