Nightwish- “Imaginarium” Album Review

I will admit that on the whole I am not a big fan of symphonic metal, but for some reason Nightwish stands out above all the rest. There talent for writing great epic songs is unmatched in the genre and former lead vocalist Tarja Trunen magnificent voice is unmatched to this day. However, Tarja is no longer in the band and they have soldiered on with new singer Anette Olzen of Alyson Avenue fame.

Now Anette’s voice is totally different from the classically trained one of Tarja’s, but still one of the best female vocalist out there. Even so, her first Nightwish album “Dark Passion Play”, failed to impress me, so Nightwish’s new epic “Imaginarium” was a very important album for the band and I am happy to say that they totally blew me away and took away any doubt I ever had about the bands ability to continue without Tarja!

“Imaginarium” is epic in it’s undertaking; a concept album whose basis is scary fairy-tails and bedtime stories basically which basically come together to create one story and take the listener on a journey. Put together by the bands driving creative force and keyboard player Tuomas Holopainen the album basically moves as an individual story and each track being part of a complete soundtrack. In fact if you splurge for the two disc version you get a second disc with a complete instrumental version of the album which gives the cinematic feel of the mind even greater depth.

Track by Track:

1.) Taikatalvi– Written and sung completely in Finnish, I have no clue what is actually being said, but the music is still haunting and gives you an idea of where the album is going. A haunting lullaby melody.

2.) Storytime– the first single from the album and by far the most accessible and commercial track on the album. The basis for the Anette Olzen era, classic Nightwish, but with a new twist.

3.) Ghost River– Hard and Heavy, I am usually not a fan of the songs featuring co vocals with bassist Marco Hietala as his vocals are just very  rough and guttural, but this is one of the rare occasions where it works perfectly as his part is supposed to scare the hell out of you and that’s just what his voice does.

4.) Slow, Love Slow– Haunting and yet beautiful, definitely sets a scene for the story being told.

5.) I Want My Tears Back– Gets a bit heavy again, a lot of Celtic undertone’s in the music.

6.) Scaretale– Very cinematic and sets a scene. Starts off slow and creepy and picks up steam and gets heavier. Kinda weird and creepy but in a good way.

7.) Arabesue– An instrumental with Arabian undertones. If the album is supposed to feel like an epic story than this is what I would consider the intermission, like can be seen in big epics like  The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur. Go pee (but take the headphones with you)

8.) Turn Loose the Mermaids– If the first part of the album was heavy and a little action packed and getting info, then now we are in the part of the story where the Journey begins. More Celtic Undertone’s, close your eyes and get sucked into the story.

9.) Rest Calm– Dark and Heavy, From what I take away from this album if your listening right this track should make you feel like the weight of the world rests on your shoulders.

10.)  The Crow, The Owl and the Dove– Acoustic, dark and Illuminating.

11.) Last Ride Of The Day– Very Symphonic and and heavy, we are reaching the end of the Journey and getting ready for the final battle.

12.) Song of Myself–  A 14 minute epic split into four parts. Amazing and scenic. Close your eyes and imagine the scene.

13.) Imaginarium– An instrumental montage of the entire album (The end credits if you will)

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Nightwish took a huge risk with this album and it payed off big time! A lot of people have described a lot of albums as Epic, but Nightwish’s “Imaginarium” is the  only one deserving of the word. In all my life I have never heard anything like it! A Cinematic Symphony  has taken me on such and epic journey from beginning to end!

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GRADE- A+

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New Jeff Scott Soto Video- “Look Inside Your Heart”

New Jeff Scott Soto single and Video “Look Inside Your Heart” from his upcoming solo album “Damage Control” due in stores March 27th from Frontier Records!!

Features Night Rangers Joel Hoekstra on guitar!!

 

Random Journey Tune of the Week “Higher Place”

 

“Higher Place” from 2001’s Arrival (live version from Journey: Live in Las Vegas), the first album featuring the sensational Steve Augeri on vocals!!

Van Halen “A Different Kind Of Truth”- album review

Ok… so the wait is over and it’s finally here! The most anticipated album of all time 28 years in the making! The excitement and adrenaline are pumping as I put the cd into the player and wait for the new Van-Halen album to start up!! Unfortunately all of the excitement ended there.

Upon my first list to Van-halen’s new album “A Different Kind of Truth” (the bands first since 1998’s VH3 and their first with DLR since 1984) my initial reaction was “What a piece of shit!! This is the worst album I have heard in years!!” Then I composed myself, maybe I just wasn’t in DLR VH mode. After all it’s been such a long time. So I went back listened to all the DLR albums got my head in the right place and took a few more listens to “A Different Kind Of Truth”. Thankfully the album got much better, but still leaves some room for improvement.

The band needed to hit big with this album and while they didn’t knock it out of the park, they got a ground rule double. I don’t feel their heart was really in this album and it kinda shows. Most of the songs are 70’s demos reworked  that didn’t make any of the early albums. Now the good thing about that is that it gives the album a very classic sound and feel. The bad thing about it is that the band is working with their left-over shit which, if you’ve ever heard it, sucked pretty bad the first time!

The album however is not without it’s merits. Eddie’s playing is amazing as we all expect it to be and Alex and Wolfgang make-up a great rhythm section and bring a lot of funkiness (although Mike’s absence is heavily felt in the back-up vocal area).

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Track Listing-

1.) Tattoo– The first single of the album and most commercially accessible and for that reason alone was a good choice. Great groove, but lyrically cheesy. Kinda picks up where the tracks on the Greatest Hits album left off only a little more fun.

2.) She’s The Woman– Re-worked from a shitty demo from the 70’s. Major improvement!! Awesome intro, cool solo, classic VH!

3.) You And Your Blues– Classic VH with a modern edge. Love the Intro, more awesome playing by Eddie. Could feel at home on VH3.

4.) China Town– Another re-work. Awesome intro, very heavy, awesome solo, stupid lyrics. Takes a bunch of listens to get into, but worth it.

5.) Blood and Fire– OK, here we go!! This is more what I was waiting for!! Classic VH sound could have come right off of Women and Children First or Diver Down! Awesome Solo!

6.) Bullethead– This track took me a long time to get into, but eventually won me over. Another shitty demo re-worked, very heavy kind of VH doing punk rock!

7.) As Is– Vey heavy, big drum intro by Alex, vaguely reminiscent of “Naturally Wired” from OU812.

8.) Honey Baby Sweetie Doll– No matter how many times I hear it, this song just sucks ass!! Sounds like someone took a huge diarrhea shit and shoved it in my ears!! Definitely could have been left off the album!

9.) The Trouble With Never– Big and Groovy! Very commercial cool chorus lots of harmonies! Can see this being the bands next single.

10.) Outta Space– More classic VH!! Cheesey, but in a good way that only Dave can pull off! Dave’s high point on the album, and show’s why Eddie was a great innovator!

11.) Stay Frosty–  “Ice-Cream Man” revisited! Starts a bit blue-grassy then picks up. Dave at his best, more Classic VH. Another Great Eddie Solo!

12.) Big River– Another Groover, and more great Eddie guitar. Awesome solo! Shades of classic VH!

13.) Beats Workin’– Great 70’s rock, Monster riff’s  by Eddie. Very Raw sounding. You can definitely tell what decade this song was written in, but that all adds to the charm. Kind of reminds me of D.O.A from VH2.

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Stand-out Tracks-

You And Your Blues

Blood and Fire

The Trouble With Never

Outta Space

Stay Frosty

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I said before, that this album may take a few listens to really get into, and the funny thing about that is as I am writing this review I am giving the album my 6th listen and my opinion has changed drastically! After my first listen I was prepared to give this album a terrible review. After a few more listens I was going to give it an average review, but now as I am listening to it as I am writing this I ended up giving it a pretty dam good review!! A solid album… not their best but a hell of a lot better than I was expecting.

At first I had a hard time getting past Dave’s shitty lyrics. Then I remembered, that’s just Dave! He’s a shitty songwriter, but that’s why we love him! Eddie is a monster and played like a beast all over this album! Part of me wants to say that this album would have probably been better if it had just been and instrumental from beginning to end and am still curious how that would sound.

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Grade – B+

My Search For A New Hulk Hogan Entrance Theme!!!

 

When Hulk Hogan first became a bad guy at WCW, I was very young. At the time I still didn’t know wrestling was fake and couldn’t handle my hero turning his back on me which forced me to stop watching wrestling for the 15 years following his heel turn. Of course as I grew older I realized that it was all entertainment, but still did not go back to watching the sport up until about a year ago. Something happened and I missed my childhood hero.

I was informed that he was indeed still around and was on TNA every thursday night. Bare in mind I have not paid attention to anything in the wrestling world for 15 years and was not yet aware of the Hulk’s return to WWF (yes WWF… I will never refer to it as anything else.) or his return to a good guy in the organization. So imagine how horrified I was when not only did I see him “still” a bad guy at TNA, but still coming out to that crappy NWO music!!

So the months go bye, he is redeemed by Sting, back in the good old Yellow and Red, BUT WHAT THE HELL!?!? HE’S STILL COMING OUT TO THAT CRAPPY NWO MUSIC!!!

Now Hulk Hogan as a bad guy can get away with that, but coming out in the Yellow and Red (or a good guy in general no matter what colors) to the NWO music is very anti-climatic. It has no excitement or feeling!! When the Hulkster comes out into the arena all the Hulk-a-maniacs all over the world should be pumped and our hearts pounding knowing that our hero and the greatest wrestler to ever walk the planet is coming out to save the day!!!

Now, I have compiled a list of what I believe are the top 5 best picks to be Hulk Hogan’s entrance theme when he enters the Impact Zone! Now of course “Real American” would be my number one pick, but I am assuming that Hulk can’t legally use it otherwise… well why wouldn’t he?

5.) Sunstorm- “Fist Full of Heat” (Not very lyrically uplifting, but has attitude and a guitar riff that gets you pumped.)

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4.) Survivor- “Fire Makes Steel” (Another great Survivor anthem!! Really gets the blood pumping! Distinguishable guitar riff, uplifting lyrics and and makes you feel like the Hulksters getting ready to kick some ass!!)

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3.) Kimball / Jamison – “Back In The Game” (Very appropriate after the Hulk’s return! Very inspiring with a great beat!!)

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2.) UFO- “Fighting Man” (Nuff Said!)

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1.) Hulk Hogan and the Wrestling Boot Band- “American Made” (I guess this can be filed in the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” folder. If Hulk can’t come out to “Real American” then “American Made” is a very very very close second choice! Epitomizes everything that all the Hulk-a-maniacs love about the Hulkster!!)

Random Journey Tune Of The Week- “Patiently”

“Patiently” from 1978’s Infinity, the first album to feature Steve Perry on vocals. Wanna know why Steve Perry is nicknamed “the Voice” ?

Top 15 songs of 2011!!!!

Ok, so I have already released my Opinion on the Top 1o best Albums of 2011, so here are what I believe are the top 15 best songs of 2011. It was a very tough job to do. How do you rate a song? Musically? Lyrically? Good Time? Anyway, these are what I believe to be the best of the best!!

15.) Robin Beck & Joe Lynn Turner – “That All Depends”

14.)Chickenfoot- “Alright Alright”

13.)Foreigner- “Save Me”

12.)Michael Schenker- “Saturday Night”

11.)Toby Hitchcock- “If It’s To Be (It’s Up To Me)

10.)Toby Hitchcock- “Strong Enough”

9.) Fergie Frederikson- “Follow Your Heart”

8.) Kimball / Jamison- “Get Back In The Game”

7.) Toby Hitchcock- “Just Say Goodbye”

6.) Journey- “Chain Of Love”

5.) Journey- “Tantra”

4.) Fergie Frederikson- “Happiness Is The Road”

3.) Toby Hitchcock- “Summer Nights In Cabo”

2.) Night Ranger- “Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)

1.) Journey- “Edge of the Moment”

 

Well that’s all folks!!! Until Next Year… Hope 2012 rocks as hard as 2011!!!