When Bands Over-reach

Since the release of Nightwish’s album Dark Passion Play, when their new singer debuted, I’ve been eagerly awaiting their second release with her to see how well she integrated with the band.  But if you go to their website, you’ll see almost more about the companion film than the album itself (this has changed a bit since I first wrote this post’s draft as the album has been released).  I can’t say this is good.  Another band, Within Temptation, also felt the need to have a story(ies) to go along with their latest album, and they’ve released several short films to go along with it.

Why?

For decades we’ve had the concept album, where a story is told from song to song.  But it was still an album.  And from the ones I’ve listened, some have been very good.  My personal favorite would be Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime, followed up by Fear Factory’s Obsolete.  Concept albums can be powerful; hell, they can be absolutely epic.

These albums are good because the music comes first, and provides a strong foundation for a story to go on top of.  The story is the icing on the cake that is the music.  If the music sucks, I don’t care how good the story is (or how good the band may think it is).  I can read a book (or even watch a film) for that.  That isn’t really why I want to sit down with a new album, put on my Grados, close my eyes and be taken away.  That is something neither books nor films can do, and that’s the reason music still has a very important place in today’s world, even with all the “wonderous” advances technology may have provided for films, games, etc.

I have only listended to brief samples of Within Temptation’s new album, and it’s terrible.  It’s nothing like their previous albums, and most of the “metal” has been stripped out and replaced with pop.  I began listening to a preview of Nightwish’s Imaginaerum with the same trepidation.  Unfortunately my fears were confirmed for the most part.  Disjointed would be an understatement.  This is not an album at all, and unless the film is a miraculous splendor it is barely a serviceable soundtrack either.

Each song is completely different.  One track tries to emulate jazz.  As snobby as Europeans can be about “true metal”, as a full-blooded American I must reply about “true jazz”.  This track is not a salute, and is a failed emulation of jazz.  It should have been left off entirely.

If there’s only one strength on this album, then it is Jukka’s drumming.  One of the first to get me really motivated about playing drums, Jukka has always had fantastic tone and great chops, and that shines through even on this album.  Unfortunately he’s the only one who’s shining on this album.  Emmpu’s guitar playing is boring and monotonous.  There is very little melodic work or soloing; it’s constant chugging.  On one track he does pick up the acoustic, and just like the track “The Islander” on Dark Passion Play, this track is a stand-out.  Perhaps it’s because it harkens back to Nightwish’s origins of acoustic songs.  I would love to hear an entire album of acoustic songs.  The band has gotten as “high-concept” as music can possibly get (or at least that most people can stand).  It’s time for them to come down and sit with us around the fire again.

So how has Anette progressed on her second album with the band?  It’s hard for me to say.  She certainly sings with a bit more range, but still no-where near what Tarja could belt out.  I consider that neither good or bad.  On the “jazz” track, her vocals were not too bad.  On other tracks the notes are just too far apart and strains the definition of what a melody is and should be.  It’s almost more jarring than the constant change in song styles.  On one hand I really now want to say “well let’s wait til the NEXT album to see how she and the band progress”, but you know what?  I’m busy.  There’s far too many other bands worth a listen.  Just as I had to end my aural affair with Within Temptation, I think I’ll have to say the same for Nightwish now.

Drum Hardware and Double-bass Pedals

I’ve been continuously researching any additional hardware and cymbals I’d like to add to my kit.  Right now I have a ride cymbal, but no crashes yet.  Part of the reason is because it’s not as critical in my practice space to have those cymbals yet, and I’d have to get additional mute pads for them.  I have my ride cymbal set-up in a location where I can use it either as a ride or for a quick hit to simulate a crash, which is sufficient for my current level of playing.  I’d like to eventually add at least one crash, so that with it and my ride cymbal set off to the right, I can use them as two crashes when learning more complicated fills.

I also need to purchase an arm for my cowbell.  I’ll still need to find a place to set-up the arm, as my smallest rack tom is on a clamp attached to the ride cymbal.  When I eventually add another cymbal stand then I can attach it there.  One day I’ll hae to think about another arm for a splash cymbal, but that’s further in the future.

I’ve also been wanting to play a double bass pedal again.  I used to have a Tama Iron Cobra double pedal, and while it was fun to play and had alot of power, it felt too slow, especially compared to my Pearl single pedal.  While most of the popular pedals use either dual chains or direct link, I think I’ll look at ones that use single chains.  While these have the perception of being cheap, I think for my playing they’ll be more than sufficient.  My Pearl single pedal uses a single chain, and it offers plenty of power along with speed.  I’ll have to test the double pedal version of it, but I would be surprised if it didn’t feel as natural to me to play.  Also, I saw a clip on Youtube where Gene Hoglan showed the pedals that he uses.  While they’re single pedals since he uses two basses, they were Tama single-chain pedals.  If that’s good enough for Gene, then they’re good enough for me!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are celebrating this holiday, I wish you great memories and safe travels. As usual I haven’t updated this in forever. I think the main thing is I need to find a better way to write and upload new posts, as using the website isn’t as great as a dedicated app or such would be. So what all’s cooking on my mind?

Reason 5 review: lots of new features, primarily Kong

Record overview: I don’t record alot of audio, but I’ll post impressions of how well Record works compared to Audacity and others

Ubuntu 10.10 review: I run Ubuntu on my home PC and use it alot for programming and such, so it merits an in-depth look compared to Windows XP and 7, and to a few other recent Linux distro releases.

Music: I’ve been listening to a few new albums as well as long-time favorites, and it’s time to write some good reviews for those.  Also, I’ve been mulling over some thoughts about drum lessons and other things I’ve discovered, so I would like to share those.

Windows 7 review: My work computer has been on 7 for awhile, and I’ve also been able to deploy it on eligible systems, so my experience with this OS has grown enough that I feel ready to write up how well it works, compare it to XP and Vista, and see how it stacks up against OS X and Linux.

Book reviews: I’ve slowly started reading more, so I’d like to share my thoughts on some of those titles.  I’ll also write about the Kindle, as I’ve been thinking about getting one, and how I think it would do compared to paper copies.

I know I have alot more things to write, and I’ve covered some of those topics in previous posts.  Since WordPress has a Drafts feature I don’t have any excuse not to get those started!

Sticking With Apple

Since my last post I’ve tried out a few more Linux distros and such, but then finally decided to pack up the PC tower and just use my MacBook for writing and music.  It’s been nice trying out Linux, but with working in IT and such I just don’t have time to experiment and mess with things anymore; I just want a fully working system, and for me the MacBook has always been that.

So, all future tech-related entries on here will always pertain to Apple.  As for music, I’m currently deciding on Reason/Record or Logic Express for my work.  I’m also working on getting a plug-in configured so that I can share the music I create on here.

The inspiration and encouragement came from Mons, who I originally met on Shacknews.  I highly recommend you check out his site and purchase his CD!

http://www.monstunes.com/