Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer To Reunite with Matt Barlow Christmas Album

Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer will reunite with the band’s former singer, Matt Barlow, under the name Schaffer/Barlow Project to record Christmas classics on a new record called Winter Nights. The project has a Kickstarter that you can contribute to and has surpassed the $15k goal in a brief run with $19k funded so far in less than a day. Watch the trailer and see the tracklisting now. Barlow played his last official show with Iced Earth in 2011 Wacken Open Air festival in Wacken, Germany. He joined Demons & Wizards on stage in New York City for a cover of Iced Earth’s “I Died for You”, which is on this Winter Nights album. Continue reading

Tarja Debuts New Video – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, Holiday Album Due Next Month

International symphonic metal sensation Tarja is no stranger to cover songs and albums. She is not releasing a holiday album, Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas), due out on November 17th from earMUSIC. Watch the video from her first single – ‘ O Come, O Come, Emmanuel’ below.Continue reading

The Wizards Of Winter – The Magic Of Winter

ALBUM ART The Magic Of Winter

I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure how to go with this one. I could mash my head against the keyboard for three paragraphs; I could type the word “fuck” with five-hundred u’s; I could probably get the Ghost Cult cyber-minions to embed a video of me weeping quietly into my hands for five minutes – all catchy in their own way, certainly, but none of them quite sum up how I feel about having to listen to The Magic Of Winter (Breaking Bands) again.

Respect where it’s due, The Wizards Of Winter do not mess around. Make it past the album cover – and lots of people won’t – and within ten seconds of pressing play on intro-track ‘Flight Of The Snow Angels’ and you’re listening to the melody from ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ with a keyboard tone that would make Rick Wakeman roll his eyes. Survive the intro and what follows next is a non-stop assault of full-on Christmas overload, like Cliff Richard vomiting tinsel onto an endless repeat of The Wrong Trousers. There’s absolutely no respite for a moment – Christmas bells smash into ‘The Snowman’-aping choirs and carol-service choruses, lyrics about love and goodwill hang mawkishly over melodies that rob from traditional Christmas songs like pay-day loan companies advertising in December.

Musically, they’re not a million miles away from Nightwish, but with their Power Metal element replaced with lower-case-r rock, and all of the wizards swapped for reindeer. The band are all clearly accomplished musicians – though their approach to song-writing veers so hard on the indulgent that it’s mounted the kerb and killed four carol-singers – and there’s no denying the consistency of their vision. There’s something almost Metal about their single-mindedness, in fact – this isn’t some light-hearted Christmas theme, here, it’s an apocalyptic vision of a future in which everything that isn’t covered in snow or flavoured with cinnamon is dead and gone to dust, all lights that don’t flash have faded to darkness and the whole of eternity stretches out into an endless desert of John Lewis adverts and sprouts.

Cards on the table – I’m probably not the person The Magic Of Winter is for, but that’s the trouble. I honestly don’t know who it IS for. Are there really a group of people sitting around in their Theatre Of Tragedy Christmas jumpers and Santa hats right now, complaining that Michael Buble doesn’t rock out hard enough but the Twisted Sister Christmas album rocked out a little too hard? If there are, and they have a fondness for keyboards, The Magic Of Winter may well be the album they’ve been waiting for, and I heartily recommend that they buy it right away.

Everyone else may like to join me in weeping into their hands.