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Music Review: Tarja – From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas)

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Tarja - From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas)

Genre: Adult Contemporary, Coldwave, Goth
Label: earMUSIC

My first thought on seeing this promo in my inbox was to delete it. But, my curiosity got the better of me, unfortunately, and so I opened the email. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Christmas albums, with Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra getting a lot of spins every December.

But man, this is fucking garbage. Yes, Tarja is incredibly talented. And yes, she is singing some of these songs in a style I particularly enjoy. Some of these songs remind me of stuff that would have come off of the Projekt Records label, and Projekt is one of the best labels ever for coldwave and goth. But there has always been something about Tarja I’ve never really liked; even her Nightwish albums are mostly garbage. Once Annette got into the band they really took off, as if Tarja was an elastic band holding the band back from flying at full speed. Once she left, the elastic snapped, and the biplane Nightwish were went into full jet mode.

There’s some high points, such as interesting production choices on these classics of the Christmas season, but ultimately it’s just a Christmas album for Hot Topic goths who can’t stop watching Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s slower moving, which does add an interesting atmosphere to the songs, especially the ones that are traditionally faster, such as “Deck the Halls” and “Feliz Navidad”. But ultimately, this is a complete waste of studio recording hours. The new song, “Together” is completely immemorable, and was one of the main reasons I wanted to check this album out. It’s something that you’d hear on an easy rock station, geared towards suburban soccer moms with black nail polish.

As a less important aside, I am also very disappointed in the cover art for this album. Yes, Christmas is cold. A lot of the music on this album is coldly produced and cold sounding. Tarja, however, is a gorgeous woman on top of her talent, and having this much Photoshop work to her face is just brutal. Whoever did the art is a jackass and should go back to horribly disfiguring women for fashion magazines and leave the airbrushing of musicians to qualified people.

In all, don’t bother wasting your time with this, unless you’re streaming it for free on YouTube or Bandcamp. And definitely don’t play this at a Christmas party, unless your guests are all fourteen years old and have a crush on Jack Skellington.

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Video: News Bit 003 – Altar of Betelgeuze, Augurium, Crypt Rot, and more

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Here is the second episode of the Crown of Viserys News Bit. In it I talk about some of the upcoming albums in April as well as the upcoming shows from Crown of Viserys that happen in April.

If you’re liking what you see with the news bit, let me know, and if you are in a band that would like to be featured in the news bit, also let me know.

Music Review: Shadecrown – Agonia

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Shadecrown - Agonia

Genre: Melancholic Melodic Death Metal
Label: Inverse Records

Churning out the largest number of metal bands per capita means lots of potential pouring out of Finland these days, including Shadecrown’s Agonia. They are off to a great start with this album, even though some of the elements don’t jive the best with each other. The contrast between the vocals is stark, with the growls tending to sound a little on the forced side and grating at times. When there is a break from vocals, like the beginning of “Eremohbia”, and the spotlight is only on the musicianship and the writing, you can see where Shadecrown really excels. It’s nothing complicated, nothing that breaks the mold of traditional melodic death, but it’s well done and well thought out. They have furthered subgenrefied themselves, by adding ‘melancholic’ and justly so, feeling of gloom is definitely present throughout each of the 10 songs. The sporadic use of clean vocals adds a nice touch without going overboard, although the auditory break from the raw vocals is appreciated. The main downfall is that Shadecrown lacks a bit in consistency, some songs are a great example of melodic death such as “The Ruins of Me”; a heavy, powerful track where the vocals aren’t too strained and there is a wicked guitar solo to round it out. Some of the songs, including “Walk Through Hell” and “Silent Hours” have more of a hard rock feel, bordering on thrash with a huge Iced Earth influence. While not to say it’s awful or poorly executed, I just don’t particularly like it. I thoroughly enjoy the piano and acoustic bits, especially on “Led Astray” but the vocals are too inconsistent in pattern and rhythm.

This a fairly strong debut album, I will give it that. Shadecrown has some refining to do and need to perfect their individual sound a bit more, but they are definitely on the right track.

Favorite Track: “Led Astray”