Elements, whose title track I’ve featured in the past, is one of my favourite Stratovarius albums; I find that the symphonic orchestration really brings out the epic feel that Stratovarius tries to materialize in their work.
“Papillon” (the word is French for “butterfly”) is particularly memorable to me due to the intensity of the orchestrated section that comes in around 2:12 and again around 4:34.
Here it is, set by a fan to a haunting slideshow of images:
This concert was one of the rare occasions where a symphonic metal band performs live with a full choir and orchestra. Within Temptation was accompanied by Netherlands’ prestigious Metropole Orkest and PA’dam choir, in the Ahoy arena in Rotterdam. The concert was filmed and released as a live album.
The overture was composed by Jeff Buckley (who has since gone on to become the chief conductor of the Metropole Orkestr) specifically for this concert, to showcase the orchestra and choir. It’s quite an impressive live performance!
I discovered this song in my teenage years, when a passage from a cover of it (by Sia Furler) was featured on the soundtrack of The O.C., a T.V. show that was popular at the time.
This passage – beginning at 3:39 in the video below – is still my favourite from the song; a beautiful symphony of vocals, choir, strings, and piano. The rest of the song is quite different in tone, and in fact, when I first listened to the whole song, I found these other sections unappealing, even amusical. Over time, however, the song has come to grow on me, and I now appreciate it in its entirety for the diverse, sophisticated piece that it is.
I’m quite partial to the Sia cover, mostly because I like the orchestration of this symphonic passage better in it, and that’s what the video below features, but of course the original version by Radiohead is very much worth checking out as well.
This hauntingly beautiful song laments society’s shallow obsession with outward, physical manifestations of beauty, often overlooking and under-appreciating beauty that lies within, in the heart.
Oceanborn was Nightwish’s breakout album, the first that brought them international recognition. The production quality is not yet as polished as on later releases, but I nevertheless enjoy the album very much; it’s full to the brim with raw energy and emotion.
To check out Swanheart, I recommend this video (not embedded due to YouTube restrictions), which is of a live concert in Tampere, Finland in 2000 that was filmed and released on DVD under the title From Wishes to Eternity.
All those beautiful people
I want to have them
I want to have them all
All those porcelain models
If only I could
If only I could make them fall
Full lyrics, along with some discussion, can be found here.
I chanced upon the band Draconian while browsing YouTube a few weeks ago.
Draconian’s music features a fair amount of growling vocals, which I’m not generally a fan of, but I nevertheless got into several of their songs. (You might think, given that the last song I featured also has some growls, that they’re starting to grow on me after all. They’re not, I just sometimes look past them and don’t let them prevent me from enjoying an otherwise great song.)
The slow, contemplative style of metal that Draconian play is sometimes described as “doom metal”. This is my first foray into the genre, and while it’s a bit of a departure from the symphonic material I usually listen to, I do rather like it.
The song I’m sharing today is called “Elysian Night”, from Draconian’s most recent released album A Rose for the Apocalypse. I love the heavy atmosphere it conjures!
The song’s title is a reference to the Elysian Fields, a conception of heaven from Greek mythology.
I can’t go on with the quiet
To wait until we wake up
To be gone with the fire
I must go now
My thoughts are with Simone as she goes through this difficult time. It also appears that we North Americans fans won’t miss our chance to see Epica perform altogether, as they’re planning on rescheduling the tour to early next year.
In the meantime, I thought I’d feature one of their songs here.
Epica is in many ways a continuation of the musical project that Mark Jansen started with After Forever. When After Forever split due to creative differences, Mark went on to continue pursuing his musical vision as part of a new band, Epica.
The song I’m featuring today is “Façade of Reality” from Epica’s first full-length album, The Phantom Agony. If you pick up on musical and thematic similarities to the After Forever song “Leaden Legacy” that I featured a few months back, it’s because they’re both part of the same series of songs, The Embrace That Smothers, that Mark wrote exploring the effects of organized religion, and that ended up spanning his move from After Forever to Epica.
“Façade of Reality” specifically is written about 9/11, and how religion has been used to justify this and other acts of terrorism.
In the midst of a heart-wrenching arrangement of orchestral passages, Latin choral chanting, the soaring vocals of Simone Simons, and Mark Jansen’s growls, the song also features a couple of quotes by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair about 9/11:
This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today.
Those people who lost their lives on the 11th of September
And those that mourn them
Now is the time for the strength to build that community
Let that be their memorial
(A commenter on the song’s discussion page on SongMeanings points out that this use of Tony Blair’s quotes is ironic, given how the wars subsequently waged by Blair’s government and other Western governments in the Middle East just exacerbated the religious extremism that has fuelled such terrorist acts. I couldn’t agree more, but that’s no reason to enjoy the song any less. In fact, this irony may even have been intended by the songwriters.)
Epica performed “Façade of Reality” and several other songs from The Phantom Agony on their live album We Will Take You With Us (whose title, you might notice, is a line from this song). Here’s a video of that performance, with “Façade of Reality” being the first song:
[whispered, to an orchestral backdrop]
It doesn’t matter where we die
It doesn’t matter that you cry
We will take you with us
Full lyrics can be found here. The first comment also contains a translation of the Latin passages.
Enjoy! I hope to feature several more songs from Epica in due course, as they’ve come a long way since this initial album.
Dommin is an alternative rock band that I stumbled upon a few years ago when they opened for a HIM concert in Toronto. (I’m not actually a HIM fan; I went to the concert to see We Are the Fallen, who were one of the other opening acts).
Named after founder and vocalist Kristofer Dommin, the band has a heavy, emotional sound, and interesting instrumentation. I found their song “My Heart, Your Hands”, from their independent debut album Mend Your Misery (later re-released on their second album Love is Gone) particularly memorable; I love the bells in it!
Let’s hear some more “relaxing metal” from Edenbridge!
This post is the second stop on our journey through Edenbridge’s often-lengthy masterpieces that started with “My Last Step Beyond”. Today’s piece is the title track of Edenbridge’s second album, Arcana.
There is a sense is which this song is “more of the same” as “My Last Step Beyond”, both in terms of song structure and the overall feel, but I just find this style so enjoyable that I felt “Arcana” was worth featuring as well. The highlight of the song for me is the the passage between the two guitar solos in the second half: starting with a short, laid-back, contemplative passage set to acosutic guitar, then Sabine coming in to sing the first verse quoted below accompanied by mellow electric guitar, before transitioning to full orchestration and Sabine’s voice soaring high to achieve that signature mix of sound.
Thorns of roses that I feel
Secrecy under the seal
Hear the tolling of the bell
Bring me under your spell
See the mysteries in twilight
They’re turning away
From darkness to light
Hope you’ve enjoyed it! Full lyrics can be found here.
I felt like featuring something a bit different this time.
Arcade Fire is an indie rock band hailing from Montreal. I discovered them in my teenage years, I think as a result of them being featured on the morning radio show I would wake up to.
I really only like a few of their songs, but the ones I do I find quite unique and moving. Today’s selection is “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)” from their debut album Funeral, named so because it’s the first of a series of four “Neighbourhood” songs.
This song has been variously interpeted as a love song, a song about growing up, a song of nostalgia, and socio-political commentary. (I’d say it’s probably all of the above.) There’s quite a lively discussion about it at SongMeanings, worth reading if you’re into that sort of thing.
However you wish to interpret it, I think it’s quite a magical song!
Purify the colours, purify my mind
Purify the colours, purify my mind
And spread the ashes of the colours
Over this heart of mine
I introduced Therion a while ago when I featured “Lemuria”, a song I’ve liked for a long time. Today, I’d like to share a more recent discovery from their corpus, “The Siren of the Woods” from the 1996 album Theli.
Mostly an instrumental song, it does contain a few vocal passages, sung in the extinct Akkadian language. The translation, which can be found in a comment on this lyrics page, hints at mythological themes, as is par for the course for Therion.
10 minutes long, the piece starts off very chill and low-key, and actually stays relatively mellow throughout, but it does come alive a bit over time with the gradual addition or orchestral and choral elements and electric guitar. Not an epic in the conventional sense, but still deserving of the name, I think!
Here it is, artfully set by a fan to clips of majestic nature scenes: