Album Review – Selene / Paradise Over EP (2014)

Directly from Northern Ireland, we might be witnessing the future face of Symphonic Power Metal.

Rating5

CoverAre you a fan of symphonic heavy music full of operatic vocals, Power Metal elements and a dense Gothic atmosphere the likes of Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and Avantasia? If this is your type of “party”, you should take a listen at Paradise Over, the new EP by Symphonic Power Metal band Selene. Selene was founded in 2013 by guitarist/keyboardist John Connor (sorry, not the one from the Terminator franchise) and singer Shonagh Lyons, with the band name being inspired by Sonata Arctica’s “My Selene”, one of John Connor’s all-time favourite songs, becoming his personal tribute to his Finnish Power Metal heroes.

This new band from Northern Ireland released their first EP called Among the Frozen in 2013, which already received a lot of positive feedback from heavy music fans and reviewers all over the world. However, now with the addition of Cameron Ashlund-Glass (Darkest Era) on drums and Thomas Alford (Sandstone) on bass, their music became a lot more consistent and organic, strengthening the final result in Paradise Over.

From the very first minute of the opening track Facing the Mirror, with its smooth piano intro and guitar riffs the likes of Nightwish, the whole band and the overall production of the EP sound very solid and professional, inviting the listener to keep relishing every track in Paradise Over. In addition, the song is augmented by its emotional lyrics (“If I can’t love my-self, /how can I need some-one else?”), tailored for fans of the genre, and a beautiful performance by singer Shonagh Lyons.

band promoNot Enough starts with a vibrant intro and offers us a very symphonic and dense atmosphere throughout its entirety, making me wonder how interesting it would be if it was used as part of the soundtrack for any epic or fantasy movie such as The Hobbit, followed by the even more symphonic Still Dreaming, which could easily be played in any radio station in the world due to its pleasant instrumental and melancholic lyrics (“The darkness growing deep within my mind / Feels so real to me but I’m still dreaming”).

Then come the awesome title-track, Paradise Over, with drummer Cameron Ashlund-Glass dictating the rhythm and its strong keyboards and vocals reminding me of some Symphonic Metal classics by Nightwish, Epica and other female-fronted bands; and the very epic and powerful tune Fade Away, where drums and keyboards are in total synergy, together with another great performance by the gorgeous Shonagh. Lastly, the band brings forth the sorrowful ballad Hourglass Fading, which will please the hearts of all music lovers, closing the EP in a very beautiful way.

What does the future hold for Selene? Well, give them just a few more years and I bet their music will sound so much more powerful they might even become the face of Symphonic Power Metal, because if they were capable of producing such enthralling music independently we can have a very good idea of what they could do with proper support. So go to the band’s official BandCamp page to purchase their new EP Paradise Over, visit the official Selene Web Store for some other cool stuff such as their previous EP Among the Frozen and other bundles (which include keyrings and necklaces), and appreciate the music by this promising band from the “The 6 Counties”.

Best moments of the album: Not Enough and Paradise Over.

Worst moments of the album: Let’s wait for a full-length album to choose some bad moments (if there are any, of course).

Released in 2014 Independent

Track listing
1. Facing the Mirror 5:08
2. Not Enough 5:03
3. Still Dreaming 4:34
4. Paradise Over 3:29
5. Fade Away 5:03
6. Hourglass Fading 3:16

Band members
Shonagh Lyons – vocals
John Connor – guitar, keyboard
Thomas Alford – bass
Cameron Ashlund-Glass – drums

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Album Review – Sonata Arctica / Pariah’s Child (2014)

What in the name of Ukko is this garbage?

Rating10

pariahs_childAccording to the Merrian-Webster Online Dictionary,  the definition of the word shame can be “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety”, “a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute”, or “something that brings censure or reproach; something to be regretted”. However, there should be a new item added to this list: the new album from Finnish Power Metal band Sonata Arctica, the horrible Pariah’s Child.

Honestly, I don’t even know where to start, or even if I should start talking about what was supposed to be called “music” in Pariah’s Child. It’s not Heavy Metal, Power Metal, Hard Rock, or even basic Rock N’ Roll, it’s just pure garbage that will make your ears bleed of annoyance if you don’t stay away from what is a serious contender for “worst album of the year”. There’s some blah blah blah that Pariah’s Child marks the return of wolf-themed songs, that “wolf” is a metaphor for fear, that it’s “old” Sonata, but nothing really works in this shameful disgrace. Instead of keeping drinking some good old Koskenkorva Viina, it seems Tony Kakko had a really bad trip with counterfeit LSD.

You might be deceived by The Wolves Die Young, which not a terrible way to start (even with that irritating sound from the keyboards), and think I’m exaggerating when I say the whole album sucks, but after listening to the “happy garbage” Running Lights, the most generic thing you can find in the world of heavy music (especially the totally forgettable guitar solos), and the even worse Take One Breath, you’ll start asking yourself “what the fuck is this shit?”, or even screaming out loud “please, make them stop!”

Still not convinced? Well, even if you have ears of steel like the Superman, the “kryptonite” song Cloud Factory will take care of it and make them explode, so stupid and boring this thing (which some people dare to call a song) is. Or maybe after listening to the more than awful Blood you might considering burning all your Heavy Metal albums and become a monk in Tibet, where the only thing you’ll hear is beautiful SILENCE.

sonata_arcticaBut believe me, as incredible as it may sound, the last part of Pariah’s Child gets A LOT worse than that. What Did You Do in the War, Dad? with its cheesy lyrics is so bad, but so bad, that I have no words to describe it; Half a Marathon Man is a totally failed Hard Rock attempt (it’s NOT a beautiful day!); and X Marks the Spot is pure nonsense and, more important than that, a warning to stop listening to the album before things get even more nightmarish.

If you love Sonata Arctica more than your life and didn’t get the warning from the previous song, then it’s your fault you’ll have to listen to the mellow torture called Love. I think even Ukko, the High God of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology, would cut his wrists and blood would rain over Finland after listening to this trash! And finally comes Larger Than Life, a 10-minute torment that in the hands of a supreme tyrant like Kim Jong-un could be used as the most powerful torture device ever seen in the history of mankind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Finnish Metal and was really expecting with an open heart another good album from this decent band from the land of ice and snow, but in this case it’s impossible not to hate every single minute of this shit. I’m just giving Pariah’s Child a 0.5 for some respect I have for Sonata Arctica’s old stuff and for the band members being nice guys, because it actually deserved a HUGE FUCKIN’ ZERO. Not even the well-done album art showing a lonely wolf (or a pariah) saves it. Unfortunately that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but a very sad and shameful truth.

Best moments of the album: A few parts of The Wolves Die Young are somewhat acceptable.

Worst moments of the album: Everything else. Pariah’s Child is a total nightmare.

Released in 2014 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. The Wolves Die Young 4:13
2. Running Lights 4:26
3. Take One Breath 4:19
4. Cloud Factory 4:17
5. Blood 5:54
6. What Did You Do in the War, Dad? 5:13
7. Half a Marathon Man 5:43
8. X Marks the Spot 5:20
9. Love 3:50
10. Larger Than Life 9:57

Band members
Tony Kakko – vocals
Elias Viljanen – guitar
Pasi Kauppinen – bass guitar
Henrik Klingenberg – keyboards
Tommy Portimo – drums