Eclectic as they are, my musical tastes do run stronger in certain directions than in others. Symphonic metal is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, it's starting to be overrun by third-gen bands who're recycling a successful formula and sound pretty much like less polished versions of the established powerhouse groups. So, I tend to stick with the bands I know unless I hear something that catches my attention. Well, I can now say without qualification that the "stick to what you know is good" strategy has failed.
Two of my absolute favorite groups, Nightwish and Leave's Eyes, have both put forth new albums recently. I eagerly snatched up the Leave's Eyes release with my Christmas gift cards and waited to be blown away. And kept waiting. And still kept waiting. Until finally, I got to the end of the tracks and said "...wait. That's it?"
It's not that it was bad. It just...wasn't any good. The band's two previous releases, Njord and Vinland Saga set the bar for me as far as this type of music goes. When Njord was being produced, I thought "It'll never be as good as Vinland Saga." I was right. It was better. It was one the most mind-blowing music experiences I've had in a long time. So I went into Meredead(the new record) with guarded but hopeful expectations. I thought, "It probably won't be as awesome as Njord," but I bet they can pull off something as good as Vinland Saga again..."
Way to be let down. Way, way down.
I'm not going to do a track by track because there just isn't anything memorable enough ON the CD to warrant it. The songs are decent but not outstanding. Nothing catches my ear and says "Here, I am, listen more closely." The entire outing is so busy trying to sound different that the emotion behind the music is an afterthought. It pains me to write such a thing, but consider it a warning for readers who don't have a lot to spend on new music. If you haven't bought Meredead don't waste your money.
The same can be said--almost word for word-- about Nightwish's January release Imaginarium. With all the hype about this record, I expected more. I expected a lot more, frankly. The only standouts stand out because they're creepy and off-putting. This one is definitely not going on my "Music to write by" list with every other Nightwish release.
Metal fans looking for something good that they haven't heard before should try
Winter In Eden
Xandria has managed to inspire a new story and 40k of material in the past..oh...two weeks? They've got a new CD coming out next month and I'm tempted to cough up the cash for a pre-order.
Check back in the coming weeks for reviews on those and some other stuff I picked up over the holidays.