Wednesday 31 December 2014

A Musical 2014

2014 was a great year for my music collection. Several old favourite bands released new albums and I also explored a relatively new genre more extensively, discovering two new bands on the journey.

A couple of years ago, I discovered a new band called Within Temptation, a Dutch symphonic metal band, fronted by the wonderful Sharon den Adel. This year I decided to explore symphonic metal just to see if there were any other similar bands.

I discovered two absolute gems.

The first is Nightwish, a Finnish band who has been around for years and have produced some fantastic music. Ultimately I ended up buying six of their albums – and they are all fantastic. The first few albums are fronted by a woman with the most incredible voice in rock music. You will almost certainly never have heard of her but she is a legend in the genre. Her name is Tarja Turunen and her operatic voice, in my view, defines exactly what symphonic metal is – a mixture of classical music and heavy metal.

Nightwish with Tarja

Here are two of my favourite examples featuring Tarja:

Tarja has since left Nightwish and her replacement, Anette Olzen, although she has a different style of voice, added a new element to the band. In particular, the last album they produced, called Imaginaerium, explores other styles of music. 

Nightwish with Anette
Here are a couple of songs that illustrate this:

The great news is that in 2015, Nightwish are back with a new album.

Also, this year, Within Temptation released their follow up to the brilliant The Unforgiving, my album of the year in 2011.

Within Temptation
The new album is called Hydra and, once more, is a masterpiece. It features a few guest artists including Tarja Turunen. Here is a beautiful song from the album:

I went to see Within Temptation at the Manchester Apollo earlier this year and discovered the second symphonic metal band I mentioned. Within Temptation were supported by another Dutch band called Delain, again fronted by a woman with a fantastic voice. As a result of their 45 minute set, I bought three of their albums and saw them on their own headline tour towards the end of the year.

Here is a great song by the band:

Other old favourites released new albums. First, I was delighted that Judas Priest are still producing new music. Their previous album, Nostradamus, seemed to get mixed reviews, although I have to say that I loved it. This year, they got back to basics with Redeemer of Souls, which will definitely keep their hard core fans happy. This is heavy metal at its best. Here’s my favourite song on the album:

Last month, the Foo Fighters returned with their new album Sonic Highways. I’ve always loved this band and I think Dave Grohl is one of the world’s great rock stars. The first single from the album is brilliant and sums up exactly why I love the band. Here is Something From Nothing, a song which builds up from a mellow beginning into a great rock song. It includes a couple of swear words, if you are easily offended:

Finally, one of my favourite bands released their eleventh album this year; the problem is that you won’t have heard of them, unless you have read this blog before. The band is called Ten and they are a melodic rock band from Manchester who have produced some truly magnificent songs in their eighteen year history. 

The new album is called Albion and is a real return to form, Here is a song from the album:

I would like to mention one final album I acquired this year. I have been writing this blog now since 2008 and one of the people who has read and commented on my blog in the past is an American lady known as Bingkee, originally from the Philippines, who is married to a guitar player. This year he released his first album and Bingkee was kind enough to send me a copy all the way across the pond from the US.

It is an instrumental guitar album in the style of Joe Satriani and it is really rather good.

Here is a live performance of one of the songs I found on You Tube.

I hope you enjoyed the songs.

Happy New Year to one and all and see you in 2015.


River said...

You know already what I'm going to say; not my kind of music. I did start to listen to each one, just in case there was something I'd like. Foo Fighters got the longest listen, but I gave up just after halfway.
I really like the artwork on the Judas Priest album cover.
Happy New Year. I hope 2015 is everything you could wish for.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I'm surprised you got that far with the Foo Fighters.


Hope you have a fab 2015.



Dale Brown said...

Clearly we like a lot of the same stuff.
I was on the point of giving up on Nightwish but I've seen clips of Floor singing with them and she nails it.
I'll have to try and catch them next time they hit the UK.

WT are now getting played on Radio 2 - that's top of my list of things I never thought would happen.

Redeemer Of Souls is the comeback album Priest needed. Rob Halford can't hit the high notes he used to so he's had to push his expression to the fore. Makes things more interesting.

I have "Albion" sitting on my shelf, waiting for a chance to get played. Another band I'd almost given up on but they turned it around with "Stormwarning" and "Heresy & Creed"

Foo Fighters - um, I don't listen to them that much. Sorry.

Here's hoping 2015 has plenty of great music too.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Big D,

Albion is a great album (apart from the ballad sung half in Italian - but they feel the need to do this soppy stuff don't they?).

I actually think Imaginaerium is their best album (that said - it was the first one I listened to). Floor Janssen has a great voice and I think the next will be terrific.

WT on Radio 2 - yes I'd heard that. What next Judas Priest?

Talking of which - great album, Redeemer of Souls. Last time I saw Priest live (Epitaph tour) he had a good go at the high notes - yes they DID do Painkiller. But he has a great voice anyway.