Nightwish’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Nightwish are in a rollercoaster of lead singers (first Tarja, then Anette, now Floor) but the truth is that neither Anette nor Floor capture the magic of the lyrical Tarja. Its departure from the band did take a part of their magic and personality. Dynamically enough, Nightwish tried to adapt its style to that of Anette but, personally, the outcome (despite its critical acclamation and worldwide reception) was hard to swallow for the oldest Nightwish fans. I believe Anette is a terrific singer… but in any other band than Nightwish. Anette rocker style strained them away from their own style and soul. Fortunately, Nightwish appear to have learned and in Endless Forms Most Beautiful evolved to their own personal and original style. In fact, they did an amazing work in adapting Floor to her new ‘position’ (more lyrical and spectacular than in ReVamp) and, despite the lack of the opera glimpses they immersed us to in the Tarja era, she does fit in pretty well. Here, ‘Shudder Before The Beautiful’ comes up as the perfect example. The opening track is a great, fast-paced and melodic track (one of the best tracks of the record) where Nightwish addict us once again. It is the kind of track I’ve been waiting for a long time. The best part is that it goes on: ‘Weak Fantasy’, ‘Élan’, ‘My Walden’, ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’ and the 24 minutes-long opera-like ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’. Good-old Nightwish tracks that leaves me craving for their next album. Nevertheless, tracks like ‘Yours is an Empty Hope’, ‘Apenglow’ and ‘The Eyes of Sharbat Gula’ should have been worked harder. 4 out of 5 stars.

Three Days Grace’s Human

Human could have turn out to be a game-changing record for Three Days Grace… but fortunately it didn’t. The departure of the iconic Adam Gontier could have forced the band’s loss of identity and direction but Matt Walsh managed to fill in Adam’s spot without becoming a complete replica. Personally, My Darkest Days are one of the last bands I thought Three Days Grace would look for a lead singer but Matt fit in the new group right from the start. It’s good to see him somewhere where he can actually show what he is worth. I believe Matt still lacks the passion Adam used to pour into its performances but I hope that in the future he does manage to bring a new dimension to help the group unglue from their current Gontier-centered image. Now, the album was a good surprise, especially for me that didn’t know exactly what to expect at this point. Well balanced between soft (‘Human Race’, ‘Fallen Angel’, ‘The Real You’) and good old TDG-style tracks, it’s in the last group that you will find the best tunes: ‘Painkiller’, ‘Landmine’ and ‘Car Crash’. Solid, complex and pure rock, that clearly reminds us of ‘The Animal I Have Become’, ‘I Hate Everything About You’ and ‘Riot’. The record is closed by ‘The Real You’, a deep and introspective track that leaves us wondering where will TDG go on from here. Personally, I am curious. Good job. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Despite’s EPic

I have written about Despite’s EPic EP in the past. Their first album featuring Peter Tuthill on the vocals (the third of the group) has a new (and fresh) dimension. In an era when most of the groups are looking for the ultimate formula to play metal, it is refreshing to find bands walking against the crowd and looking for a heavy and raw groove. Once again, I have to highlight ‘As You Bleed’, ‘Unexceptional’ and ‘Sanctum Falls’ as the most defining and solid tracks of the EP. Give it a try. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Marilyn Manson’s The Pale Emperor

The Pale Emperor (TPE) is far from The Nothing Studios’ years that brought us Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, Holy Wood and The Golden Age of Grotesque [1996–2003]. Here, Marilyn Manson seduces us with a more complex and mature rock as opposed to the brutal and raw metal that got them to the Olympus of Metal Gods in their golden years. You can feel it right from the start. ‘Killing Strangers’ and ‘Third Day of a Seven Day Binge’ are slow-paced soulful well-balanced tracks jingling between electronic and rock. ‘The Devil Beneath My Feet’ and ‘Cupid Carries a Gun’ are two of the most contagious tracks of the entire record. The last one, in particular, can actually be the ‘face’ of the record in all of its painful, self-abusive and sexual dimension. But the best track of TPE is definitely ‘The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles’: an intense and brilliantly achieved track drenched in suffering and pain. Amazing! The album ends with ‘Odds of Even’, a track that stays within the line of the album: slow and soft but with a strong impression. A fair ‘grand finale’.

TPE isn’t one of their best albums. Introspective and excessively synthesized tracks such as ‘Dip Six’, ‘Warship My Wreck’, ‘Slave Only Dreams To Be King’ and ‘Birds of Hell Awaiting’ end up being a stain on a record that otherwise could have marked the band’s resurgence after Born Villain [2012]. But the truth is: no one could expect this work to be one of their greatest albums after the carousel of departures and hirings of the band through the last years. Manson and Ramirez remain as core members of the band but the departure of Wayne Gacy (2007), Fish (2011) and (particularly) John 5 (2004) were a harsh punch from which the band never recovered… but survived. Changed its style but kept its soul and charisma. In fact, I believe Marilyn Manson have never been so ‘in’. 3 out of 5 stars.

All That Remains’ The Order Of Things

The Order Of Things does not start well with ‘This Probably Won’t End Well’ (see what I did there?). A tragic ballad that (sadly) defines the main line of the record. Particularly (sad) for a band that can create heavy and rich tracks such as ‘No Knock’, ‘Fiat Empire’ and ‘Trv-Kvlt-Metal’. The Order Of Things is probably the most criticized album of the band so far… and there’s a reason why. Not enough for me to recommend it. 2 out of 5 stars.

Papa Roach’s F.E.A.R.

Papa Roach are faaaaar from the ‘Infest’ era… and you can feel it right from the start. The truth is the first track says a lot about the record you’re about to listen. Its style, state and direction. Unfortunately, ‘Face Everything And Rise’ says Papa Roach are betting on a badass Twilight-style:they’re dark and heavy but they’re hollow. Almost bending towards pop. ‘Skeletons’ is lyrically strong and musically catchy but still excessively auto-tuned. No more than (almost) the entire album but still excessively auto-tuned. ‘Falling apart’, at some point, resembles a standard auto-tuned BMTH-ish track. ‘War Over Me’ and ‘Devil’ are two of the not-so-bad tracks of the album. Curiously, they’re also the ones where you can’t find clear traces of auto-tuning. Papa Roach elevated the task so much with the amazing, pure, catchy, strong and heavy Infest [2000] (remember ‘Infest’, ‘Last Resort’, ‘Broken Home’, ‘Dead Cell’, ‘Between Angels and Insects’, ‘Binge’, …?) but since then they have never again been able to reach it. Personally, it’s painful to rate ‘Gravity’ as the best track of a record… but it’s excruciating to rate it particularly due to the amazing performance of a guest (Maria Brink) and not the band itself. This Scars-like track clearly illustrates the lack of intensity Papa Roach once showed. Maria actually shows more devotion and suffering than the group. In the end, I believe if they had put HALF the intensity they put on destroying instruments for the video on writing, F.E.A.R. could have turned out something good. Unfortunately, they didn’t. After listening to the album I had to read a self-help book to dissuade me from jumping off a bridge. That’s one sad record. 2 out of 5 stars.

Fall Out Boy’s American Beauty/American Psycho

Fall Out Boy have transformed into a complete pop act. They have been pop-ish since its formation but, from time to time, have dazzled us with hear-catching tracks such as ‘Thnks Fr Th Mmrs’, ‘I Don’t Care’ and ‘The Carpal Tunnel of Love’ (the track that every Happy Tree Friends fan will never forget) that we may (or may not) have found ourselves singing in the shower. Unfortunately, the band has been disappointing record after record since its promising debut (Sum 41’s All Killer, No Filler-like Take This To The Grave — 2003). In American Beauty/American Psycho Fall Out Boy present a pop album from head to toe, that gets harder to listen as it progresses. 1 out of 5 stars. MRR