World-renowned vocalist Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish) performed a solo concert from her home accompanied only by a piano, as a part of the #TogetherAtHome series, fueled by Global Citizen and in support of the World Health Organization. Watch it now below. Tarja’s latest album In The Raw was released last August via earMUSIC. Continue reading
Since leaving Battle Beast in rather acrimonious circumstances in 2015, Beast In Black guitarist and songwriter Anton Kabanen has done everything possible to challenge his former, more established bandmates, and with 2017s debut album Berserker (Nuclear Blast), he succeeded in no uncertain terms. With the two acts releasing stellar albums within a few months of each other, it would appear that Helsinki is definitely big enough for both bands, and that any bad blood that may remain between them is at least being channeled competitively into something creative and positive. Continue reading
Ghost Cult had the honor of hanging out with Tarja Turunen in New York City last fall. She had just wowed a sold-out crowd at the Gramercy Theater the night before, as part of her first headline tour of America in almost ten years. Tarja released her amazing live album/DVD Act II, out now via earMusic spanning her entire career last year. In a candid wide-ranging chat at the Sir Henry Penthouse Hotel in mid-town Manhattan, Tarja discussed touring and keeping her voice in shape on the road, her Christmas tours, balancing family and being a working musician, her favorite composers, marking major anniversaries of Nightwish albums such as Oceanborn, favorite cover songs, new music in 2019 and much more. We send our thanks to Tarja for her generosity, her label, and PR team. Interview by Keefy and videography and photos by Omar Cordy of OJC Photography for Ghost Cult. Continue reading
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
In 2016 Tarja Turunen set off on yet another epic touring adventure that would last for eighteen months, taking in forty countries and seeing the chanteuse perform to over a million people, fully cementing her status as a solo artist of some solo. To celebrate this monumental achievement, as she had done in 2012 with Act I, Tarja is releasing a multi-DVD / 2 CD documentation of a couple of the highlights of the tour; an intimate London show at the Metropolis Studios to a handful of fans recorded prior to the release of The Shadow Self, and a full concert experience from the Teatro della Luna, Milan, titled Act II (all earMUSIC). Continue reading
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
Metal For Hire has added slew of new names to its already impressive roster. Now with the addition of current and former members of Arch Enemy, Blind Guardian, Nile, and Ministry; Metal For Hire now boasts an even greater who’s who of greats to help other artists realize their dreams. This follows two impressive rounds of announcements earlier this year. MFH helps musicians hire other well-known, top-tier professional artists.
New additions to Metal For Hire:
Alex Holzwarth – (Session Drums, Etc…) Rhapsody Of Fire
Christopher Amott – (Session Guitars, Etc…) Arch Enemy, Armageddon
Danny Finch – (Session Vocals, Etc…) Devilment, The Dead Soul Communion
Jason Netherton – (Session Vocals, Etc…) Misery Index, Dying Fetus
John Jarvis – (Session Guitars, Etc…) Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Karl Sanders – (Session Guitars, Etc…) Nile, Behemoth, Morbid Angel
Marton Veress – (Live/Touring Drummer, Etc…) Armageddon, Pokolgep
Oliver Holzwarth – (Bass Lessons, Etc…) Rhapsody Of Fire, Blind Guardian, Tarja Turunen
Paul Ryan – (Guitar Lessons, Etc…) Origin
Shawn Priest – (Session Drums, Etc…) Arsis, Winds Of Plague
Sin Quirin – (Session Guitars, Etc…) Ministry, American Headcharge
Steve Conley – (Session Guitars, Etc…) Flotsam And Jetsam
Nightwish, the rulers of symphonic metal have returned and are ready to take over the world with their new album Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Nuclear Blast). This much anticipated album is the first studio album with not only Metal queen Floor Jansen on vocals, but also Wintersun drummer Kai Hahto, who took over when long-time drummer Jukka Nevalainen had to drop out due to health issues.
Composed primarily by Tuomas Holopainen, the sound on this new album hearkens back to the old Nightwish but one major difference is the vocal performance given by Floor. While she is fully capable of the high operatic capers we know from former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen, there is little of that on this album. Instead, we get to enjoy her full range of power and emotions, from very small and sweet vocals on ‘Élan’ and ‘Our Decades in the Sun’, to the intense and distorted power in ‘Yours is an Empty Hope’. In fact, this album shows an even greater range than her own projects (After Forever, ReVamp) have done.
The album also contrasts with previous Nightwish works in subject matter; while Imaginaerum (Nuclear Blast) dealt with the world of the imagination, this album describes the beauty of the natural world. In fact, the album title is a quote from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.
‘Élan’ is the first single and video for the album, even though it is one of the softest songs on the album; Troy Donockley’s whistles give the son a Celtic vibe, and Floor’s vocals are sweet at first, however, this sweetness does not last the whole song, since towards the end a very pleasing modulation brings more powerful vocals. It might not be the song most representative of the album, but it is beautiful and driven. On the album ‘Élan’ is followed by ‘Yours is an Empty Hope’, a song that brings all the bombast one can hope to find in a Nightwish song. The heavy guitar riffs are supplemented with an excellent orchestra and choir, and it is the heaviest song on the album. Floor totally rips on these vocals, and it a very intense song to experience. Tuomas’ genius as a composer is demonstrated by the contrast between this and the next song, ‘Our Decades in the Sun’. Despite the gentility of this song, with ethereal choir song and such sweet vocals by Floor, the song still doesn’t fall flat, has an astounding energy for a song so serene, and is definitely one of my favourites from this album.
‘Weak Fantasy’ is epic, the title track is very catchy, and ‘Edemah Ruh’ is very smooth. However, there is one song that stands apart from anything Nightwish has ever produced, namely ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. This is the last song on the album, and lasts a staggering 23 minutes 58. There is no real good way to describe this song, other than as varied as nature itself; it has operatics, power vocals, narration, and instrumental sections and varies from intense piano to orchestral masterpieces, to heavy metal.
Trying to pick out highlights form this album is like trying to pick needles out of a stack of predominantly needles. There may be an occasional pin, depending on your personal tastes, but there is not a strand of hay in sight.
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
Four listens. That’s all it took for nearly every song to stick in the brain, earworms wriggling around, squirming to the front of the consciousness and replaying chorus after verse after chorus after guitar-line. Four listens to go from “Yeah, this is alright” to sporting a big grin on my chops and belting out (awful tone-deaf) sing-a-longs to each track in my car.
Hydra (BMG) is the third release in the 10 years since Within Temptation shot to everyone’s attention with the symphonic metal masterpiece of Silent Force. Not as “metal” as Silent Force, nor as gothic as The Heart of Everything, Hydra sits as a more as bed-sister to 2011’s excellent The Unforgiving, which showcased a more uptempo, heavy rock bent.
With the exception of ‘And We Run’ (featuring Xzibit, which it’s fair to say is no ‘Bring The Noize’), Within Temptation bring the house down with a selection of great songs. Yes, actual songs. Really, really good ones. While the band themselves have promoted this as a diverse album, don’t be fooled, Hydra sits very comfortable inside the WT oeuvre, but what it does do is showcase the various sides of the band, each song focusing on one facet of their style, showing that they can do breathy William Orbit type pop (‘Edge of the World’), midtempo stomp ‘Let It Burn’ and melancholy and sincere (the excellent ‘The Whole World Is Watching’, featuring the distinctive David Pirner of Soul Asylum). But where Within Temptation really excel is when they let themselves go, and succumb to the joy of rocking out. ‘Silver Moonlight’ and ‘Roses’ are a great mid-album grin-prompting pairing, all fist-pumping and huge chorusing, while the album highlight ‘Paradise (What About Us)’ sees Sharon den Adel trading lines with Tarja Turunen.
Sonically Hydra is incredible; a superb vibrant production by long-term WT producer Daniel Gibson that screams “huge” while balancing the mix of vulnerability and power, and den Adel is in great form. But ultimately the star of the show is a raft of infectious, well-written songs. Hydra is packed full of anthems, and will stand tall as one of the most enjoyable albums of the year.