It should come as a surprise to no-one that Omega (Nuclear Blast), the eighth full-length studio release from Dutch symphonic metal act Epica, is another concept-driven album. Formed in 2002, the band are widely known for their ambitious ideas and themes, covering everything from the Mayan civilization to religion, nature, quantum physics and the possibility that the universe is actually digitally created hologram. You know, simple stuff.
Swapping medium sized venues for full sized arenas can be a big gamble for a band, but after a highly successful show at Wembley Arena in 2015, Finnish Symphonic Metal act Nightwish decided to take the plunge and returned to UK shores for a lengthier three date arena visit in support of their recently released compilation album Decades (Nuclear Blast).Continue reading
Despite being a former vocalist for one of the metal world’s premier and beloved metal acts Nightwish, Annette Olzon’s voice has never seemed to get the recognition it deserves. Yes she may not have quite the “wow factor” of her predecessor Tarja Turunen, nor the dynamic range of Floor Jansen, but even just one play through of Imaginaerum is testament to her talent and beautiful tones. Now free to pursue a solo career, Shine (EarMusic) is her opportunity to remind the world just what she is capable of.
Much more stripped down compared to the music most people will know her for (especially compared to the eccentric Imaginaerum album), Shine appears very simplistic at first but does show some very subtle layers. Virtually stripped of metal traits, there are some restrained distorted guitars. For the most part this sits in the softer realms of prog rock fairly suited for mainstream radio, much like Anneke van Giersbergen’s last solo effort. Some of the album’s more delicate moments even show folk-like tints, like the emotional ballad ‘Invincible’.
Annette’s voice is certainly the star of the show, her gentle notes being especially suited to the tender parts such as ‘Invincible’ and ‘Like A Show Inside My Head’. The music behind her however at times is a bit too safe and forgettable to challenge the vocals for your attention; at times rendering this almost merely a showcase for Anette’s lungs than a full musical body.
With plenty to prove to a lot of doubters who have dogged her Nightwish career, Olzen sadly unshackles herself and goes to very steady sonic ground. Not too far removed from Nightwish’s more straightforward moments, Shine proves very familiar and comes across as more a vocal exhibition of Annette’s criminally underrated vocal prowess.
6 / 10