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  • My album review of From Afar, by Ensiferum

    16 Sep 2009, 12:14

    This is a handmade, unperfect and mistakeful attempt of translation of my review in french. So if you're fluent in french, I strongly suggest that you go read it on my blog The ASW. :-) / Ce journal est une tentative de traduction, probablement très imparfaite et surement pleine d'erreurs, de ma critique en français. Donc si vous parlez français je vous suggère fortement d'aller la lire sur mon blog The ASW. :-)

    At last. After a score of plays, I eventually make up my mind about From Afar, the latest album of Finnish folk metal band Ensiferum, that came out this month. Now I'm willing to share my conclusions with you. No, don't thank me, it's a pleasure.

    Ensiferum is nothing less that my overall top artist. I adore them and can listen to them endlessly without becoming bored. After two excellent, magical and superb albums: Ensiferum in 2001 and Iron in 2004, singer Jari Mäenpää left the band to focus on his solo project Wintersun (that I strongly recommend by the way). He was then replaced by Petri Lindroos, frontman of melodic death metal band Norther. That was a good move because Petri is an excellent singer (and a very cute one, according to womens I know who kept chattering about his alleged handsomeness). But fans were looking forward to seeing how the band will do without Jari, ready to flame Petri if not satisfied. After a lukewarm EP Dragonhead in 2006, new album Victory Songs proved that Ensiferum was still a strong band and that Petri was a great choice. Of course, as usual with every change, some people whined about the "old good time", but honestly Victory Songs is a really good piece of work. So From Afar is the fourth album of the band, and the second with Petri Lindroos as guitarist and singer, who meanwhile has to leave Norther to be replaced by Aleksi Sihvonen, whom I never heard about. Heavy metal is better that Dallas after all.

    From Afar is an album that... well... experiment new things. I know, it doesn't sound reassuring and indeed experimentations are not always successful. But first things first. The album begins as usual with a beautiful instrumental By the Dividing Stream, that sounds a lot like Ferrum Aeternum. As soon as the second track, From Afar, begins you realize that Ensiferum's sound as evolved and that the band is now using lots of symphonic orchestrations à la Nightwish/Turisas, as well as voices on chorus. Many other songs are also cluttered with symphonic stuff. This bugs me somehow. Of course on the firsts listenings I found the songs catchy and powerful, but after a while I realised that they sounds cheesy. It feels like the band has lost its typical death/folk sound that I liked so much, and sounds now like Nightwish with Petri singing instead of Tarja/Anette (note that I do like Nightwish a lot, that's not the point). Talking about disappointment, the song Tumman virran taa, which starts really well but is ridiculously short.

    Among other experimentations is the song Stone Cold Metal which starts great, then evolves into a western-like athmosphere with a banjo solo... Well, I like it, but this is a little bit crazy and off-topic, and I'll understand if some people don't get it.

    Fortunatly, some songs stick to a more traditional Ensiferum's sound, like excellent Twilight Tavern which I'm impatient to listen live, Smoking Ruins or Elusive Reaches. I especially like the couple of epic songs Heathen Throne and The Longest Journey (Heathen Throne Part II), that last more than eleven minutes each. But once again I feel uncomfortable with the (over?)use of symphonic orchestrations.

    To sum up my mind, I would say that From Afar is a good album overall, with lots of innovations that make Ensiferum's music more symphonic and more majestic. However I'm not entirely convinced by this evolution, and the more I listen to From Afar, the more I feel like listening to a tasteless blend with Nightwish and Turisas.

  • Turisas et DragonForce à Paris

    2 Feb 2009, 22:10

    Cet article a été publié initialement sur mon blog The ASW. Vous pouvez laisser vos commentaires là bas. Ou ici. Ou ne pas laisser de commentaire du tout si vous n'avez rien à dire, c'est vous qui voyez !

    Et voila, Turisas vient d'atteindre le record très honorifique du "groupe qui a eu le plus de fois cgo2 dans son public" (a égalité avec Sonata Arctica pour ceux que ça interresse), avec le nombre vertigineux de 3 fois ! D'abord en première partie d'Iced Earth à Paris en 2007, puis à Londres en 2008, et maintenant, samedi 31 janvier 2009, en première partie de DragonForce à l'Elysée Montmartre. Et puisque le groupe est confirmé pour Wacken 2009, il vont probablement établir un nouveau record à 4 fois, à moins que je me casse une jambe d'ici là.

    Après cette introduction passionnante sur ma vie de metalhead, rentrons dans le vif du sujet, c'est à dire le résumé de cette soirée de folie. Putain faut que j'augmente le chauffage, j'ai froid et j'arrive pas à taper correctement au clavier.

    Première surprise de la soirée : il n'y aura qu'une seule première partie (Turisas donc, bravo à ceux qui suivent) et pas les deux traditionnelles de l'Elysée Montmartre (souvenez-vous d'Annihilator en 2007...). Ce changement dans mes habitudes m'a valu de me faire copieusement insulter par 2 de mes camarades de concert (T2Fr et Anabolisant) à qui j'avais vivement conseillé d'aller chercher des boissons au bar parce que "oui oui je vous assure, il y a largement le temps, il y a toujours un groupe pas connu pour commencer". Désolé.



    Donc Turisas attaque directement, avec un nouveau logo tout beau et une déco bleue et grise qui tranche avec les habituelles couleurs ocres et rouges. Le public hurle en coeur "Tourrrrizasse" (c'est comme ça qu'on dit en finnois) quand les premières notes de Battle Metal resonnent... A partir de là, je ne sais plus très bien ce qu'il se passe : ça chante, ça saute, ça danse dans tous les sens, bref c'est la folie, c'est Turisas, j'adore. En passant dans le pogo on recontre un autre camarade de concert, elfeshurikn, lui aussi "Lastfmien". Décidemment ce soir c'est "ze place tou bi" comme dirait nos amis anglo-saxons.

    Tiens, ça se calme un peu quand Mathias goute une bière française (de marque Carrefour, je puis pas sûr que ça le meilleur choix, mais bon) en préambule à One More. Il raconte sa petite anecdote du concert de Iced Earth, quand, après avoir renversé de la bière sur scène, il s'était lamentablement viandé comme une loutre bourrée, et demande si quelqu'un était là. OUI MOI !! Et mon pote MrRoces aussi !! "You were there ?" nous demande-t-il... YEEEESSS !! Bon, on a plus de voix, mais au moins il a nous a vu et entendu (comme quoi ça vaut la peine de jouer des coudes pour être devant). Ô instant de joie suprême !

    Et tout ça passe trop vite, c'est déjà la fin... Le violoniste (qui répond au doux nom relativement imprononçable de Olli Vänskä) jete sa serviette dans la foule et là je vous raconte pas la mêlée qui s'en est suivie pour essayer d'en attraper un bout. Par contre ça sera sans moi les gars, si je veux une serviette pleine de maquillage et de transpiration je peux la faire moi même, merci bien.



    Pendant l'installation du matos de DragonForce, direction le stand merchandising où Mathias, Olli et Hannu font une petite séance de dédicaces (sur le billet du concert ça sera parfait !). On a juste le temps d'échanger quelques mots avant qu'un vigile nous fasse circuler... Court mais intense !

    Reste maintenant la deuxième partie, DragonForce. Cher lecteur (et lectrice, puisqu'il parait que j'en ai maintenant, bonjour Shanodyn ;-), tu as déjà passé un certain temps à lire ma prose jusqu'ici alors je vais être bref pour que tu puisses retourner vaquer à tes occupations quotidiennes : c'était à chier.

    Bon, pas totalement à chier non plus, ça n'atteint pas le niveau d'un Lacrimas Profundere (qui reste indétronable parmi les lives de merde), mais quand même bien pourri. A part sauter dans tous les sens et faire 10 blagues à la minute pipi/caca du genre "Herman à un petit zizi" et "je mime une branlette avec une bouteille d'eau et j'en fait gicler partout", DragonForce ne sait pas faire grand chose. Il n'est même pas capable de jouer ses morceaux en live : ça rensemble à une purée de notes indiscernables, et à part quelques passages plus clean, c'est pas très agréable à écouter et super répetitif. Le seul petit moment original fut lorsque Netta Skog (l'accordéoniste de Turisas) est revenue sur scène (sans peintures de guerre) pour un solo avec le clavieriste de DragonForce.

    Du coup je suis resté au bar avec MrRoces ce qui m'a permis d'éviter d'abimer mon précieux, non pas anneau, mais billet dédicacé de Turisas ! On a même croisé Jussi Wickström (de Turisas), venu regarder un bout du show de ses camarades de tournée. Sans peintures de guerre ça change !

    Finalement, j'ai hâte de revoir Turisas à Wacken cet été. Histoire de rester dans l'ambiance, j'ai écrit ce petit compte-rendu en regardant le DVD "A finnish summer with Turisas" que je recommande vivement à tous les fans (qui comprennent bien l'anglais quand même, parceque le documentaire n'est pas traduit), ainsi qu'à mes voisins qui ont bien dû en profiter ce soir. Kiitos, näkemiin !

    PS : je sais que vous vous inquiétiez alors oui, c'est bon, le chauffage fonctionne, j'ai moins froid aux doigts, merci.
  • Simone Simons is gorgeous

    22 Nov 2008, 10:48

    Here are some photos of Simone Simons from Epica's show with Amberian Dawn and Kells on Fri 21 Nov in Paris... Enjoy :-)









    Check out my Flickr Album for other photos of this awesome night !
  • Fat ED's Furry Fucking Guide To Metal

    14 Nov 2008, 16:38

    Not everyone like metal... FUCK THEM ! I just found this awesome Fat Ed's video I definitly have to share with you :-)



    PLAY IT FUCKIN LOUD !
  • Turisas, Norther and Alestorm in London... Legendary !

    15 Mar 2008, 17:22

    This is a short translated summary of my french full review published on my blog.

    La version française intégrale est disponible sur mon blog.

    Thursday 13 March, about 9:30am, Gare du Nord, Paris. My friend MrRoces and I are about to board on the Eurostar to London St Pancras. Our final destination : the Turisas + Norther + Alestorm gig at Electric Ballroom tonight.

    [...]

    7:00pm. The doors open. We have to wait for our tickets because the online shop where I bought ours doesn't do delivery in France. Anyway, after a few minutes waiting (and trying to understand some scottish dudes), we're finally in !

    Summary of the night :

    • Alestorm was awesome.
    • Altough I'm a big fan of this band, I'm forced to admit that Norther was crappy.
    • Turisas was awesomely awesome.


    Here are some shots taken from my Flickr album.







    To London metalheads who were there : you rocks. I'll be back !
  • Report concert Helloween + Gamma Ray le 6 janvier

    7 Ene 2008, 20:08

    Je viens de publier un report de l'incroyable concert Helloween + Gamma Ray + Axxis à l'Elysée Montmartre le 6 janvier 2008.

    Le texte intégral et les photos sont sur mon site The ASW.



  • I'm sick of bands with the same name...

    4 Oct 2007, 17:28

    16 sept. 2009 update : It's now almost two years since I wrote this journal, and nothing has change. DoctorT's "Know Issues" thread no longer exists and has been replaced by this thread from foreverautumn, where this issue is no longer mentionned. The FAQ now includes a question "And what about artists with the same name?". The answer is basically a statement that it is "currently not possible to disambiguate artists with the same name", along with advices to lessen the consequences. So ? Has Last.fm dev team give up with this issue ? Are we just forced to "live with it" ?

    Yes I am. Artists or bands that share the same name is a *major* and *very irritating* last.fm issue that does not concern only metalheads. According to DoctorT's "Know Issues" post, Last.fm moderation system is currently unable to make the difference between homonyms, leading to a confusing mixture on artists pages.

    Let's take for example Heavenly, which is either a French power metal band and a disbanded British indie/twee pop band. Ok, tags, top albums and top tracks don't mean anything as they are all put in a complete mess, but this is not the worst.

    Say someone recommends you power metal Heavenly. Some tracks are available for listening, cool, this is a good way to discover the band. But hey, wtf ? C Is the Heavenly Option is French power metal ?!? French sucks or what ? Of course not, you're listening to the other Heavenly...

    Now say you are a big fan of the British indie/twee pop Heavenly. Last.fm will recommend you similar artists such as Freedom Call and Dragonland... But wait, they are power metal bands, not twee ! Damn. I prefer not imagine what happens with neighbors calculation algorithm...

    But the worst issue is the event system : to which band the gig does refer ? Ok, for Heavenly there is no possible mistake as one band doesn't exist anymore. But for other bands this can be *very* confusing.

    Now let's talk about users. Fans from both bands keep fighting for the pics to be displayed with the voting system. British twee ! No French power metal ! No another British twee ! Additionally, the shoutbox gets spammed with highly interesting shouts such as: "French metal sucks", "twee sucks more, you sucker", and so on...

    And don't believe Heavenly is the only case. Manigance (another French power metal band) is far worse: it shares his name with a newly created French rap/hip hop band (gasp!) which is trying to takeover the top tracks by making full length tracks available in streaming :-( This is just disgusting.

    Some issues can be solved by fixing the artist tag. For example, TYR refers to drum & bass artist. The folk metal band should be tagged Týr (or in runic if you like it). Unfortunately *lots* of people don't care about tags, then again, artists pages are messed up.

    But this is nothing compared to band names shared by *more* than two bands! Just one example : Nightmare refers to 5 different bands with *very* different styles : Japanese hardcore punk band, Serbian rap, Italian progressive metal... Now try to get a reliable similar artist recommendation with that.

    This issue may be fixed one day. It's hard to know indeed. Some rumors says that Musicbrain integration will fix it. According to the Last.fm's blog, a new fingerprinting system may help to get clean tags and therefore fix the issue... Will I see a clean Heavenly page before I die ? Please Last.fm gods, help us !
  • Wacken Open Air 2007 photos

    7 Ago 2007, 13:31

    French translation available here.

    At last here are my photos of Wacken Open Air 2007, the world biggest metal music fest, located in Wacken, Germany. It was my first time there, and despite some organization weakness (including a 9 hours traffic jam to reach Wacken from Itzehoe, about 20 km far) it was absolutely awesome.

    Among the 400 photos taken with my new Panasonic DMC-FX30 compact digital cam, I took the bests (about one hundred). You'll discover the campground, the festival area and of course the gigs of :



    Photos are on my Flickr account and appears on the Lastfm Wacken Open Air 2007 page, thanks to this kick-ass feature.
  • Event's photos !

    22 Jul 2007, 9:08

    Yesterday I created a Flickr.com account to test Lastfm event's photos feature.

    Uploading and tagging my pics on Flickr is really easy. Although tagging is enough for Lastfm to work, I made a "Set" by event, so my Flickr personnal page is clean.

    As stated on Lastfm Events page, I had indeed to wait a few hours for the photos to appears because of Flickr tag caching. But now everything works fine and this features kicks ass ! Good job Lastfm :)

    Events :

    Malédiction (Jan 21 2006)

    Edguy (Feb 15 2006)

    Yes, they are pretty old. I'll certainly buy a compact digital camera for my next gigs...