not a fan of Ayreon…

…but for this, I’m immensely grateful.

…and this really puts things into perspective re:heights. See, Floor Jansen is like six feet, and she’s likely wearing heels as well. And Marco, I’ve hugged Marco. He’s also freaking tall.

Holy hell, Hansi is about the same height.

Let this sink in for a minute.

Then think of how tall André and Peavy must be, then…


k, technically there’s more than two of them

The song is actually rather boring, but damn pretty. And being pretty, it served its purpose of getting me hooked on Borknagar, whose 2001 album Empiricism I’m currently trying to virtually wear out =D It’s anything but boring, y’know.

Normally (i.e. unlike in that Winter Thrice song above), the lead singer of Borknagar is Vintersorg (has been since Empiricism, alright), and he does this endearing combination of charismatic, expressive extreme vox and unabashedly romantic, extra clean, somewhat “folkish” singing, somewhere in between young Pasi Koskinen’s studio work (remember Amorphis’ Elegy?) and Hansi Kürsch’s approach to ballads (minus his trademark ventures into hi-octane territory).

Musically, Empiricism also reminds me of all the best qualities Koskinen!Amorphis had, taking a core extreme genre like death metal (Amorphis) or black/viking metal (Borknagar) and messing with it till it turns into something progressive – not in the sense of “a billion notes per second played in 137/256” but in the sense of “quite unlike most things you’ve heard before”.

Check out this track – it’s awesome, and it’s just one of many. It’s impossible to pick favourites with that album.

And while we’re at it, let’s listen to some classic Amorphis again. Fun fact: it’s a “beauty and the beast” song actually, it’s just that the beauty is male. Growls are performed by Tomi Koivusaari, rhythm guitar.


wonders and insights, they say

It’s Greg who kindly called me “wonderful and insightful” recently, so a fox gotta comply. So, the wonder and the insight for today is that there is a singer out there who is almost as good as Hansi Kürsch and does not take a decade between album releases. If you are a 275% loyal die-hard Blind Guardian fan, you obviously know who that is. If you aren’t…

Meet Piet Sielck, former Blind Guardian sound engineer and backing vocalist. A singer, a multi-instrumentalist and a songwriter, whose band Iron Savior has been steadily releasing quality Teutonic power metal stuff for, well, twenty years.

And let’s be frank… I wish Piet would come back to the Twilight Hall and produce Blind Guardian records instead of Herr Bauerfeind. He’s proven his worth with Iron Savior. Some will complain about Iron Savior production as well, but it’s still infinitely better than BG/Bauerfeind recordings out of the box.

Either way, Piet is unstoppable. You know I don’t like non-classical male singers much. I love Piet Sielck. Consider this a recommendation.

Speaking of actual music, Iron Savior are damn consistent re:their output. It’s ultra-melodic and fast; it doesn’t break new ground the way Blind Guardian are always poised to do, but it doesn’t grow stale and old either. Enjoy a couple of 2016 tunes.

Duets and other collaborations! Where would we be without them? The debut Iron Savior record had this lovely song, where Hansi sings quite a lot (c’mon, you can tell their voices apart) and Kai Hansen plays the guitar.

you know I dislike it…

…when kids are turned into entertainers. This is an article written by a classical voice teacher who explains why it’s not exactly a good thing from the voice production PoV.

You could say I collect those references because I wasn’t able to carry a tune in a bucket between ages 8 and 25, and so I’m just jealous of those “gifted kids”. Well.

First of all, I used to be a different sort of a “gifted kid”. Not a glamorous one, the academic sort thereof. Either way, it’s emphatically NOT FUN.

Then… well yes, my voice used to be impossible to control at all. It’s what you get when your voice is designed to be unusually low for your sex, and so it breaks when it physiologically sort of shouldn’t, so nobody is prepared for it and understands what is going on… and you have no good voice teachers around.

There is a lady my age, with a similarly heavy voice, who apparently did have a good teacher. She’s Petra Mauria (now Gargano) of the Finnish band Tiktak. In the video below, she’s fourteen.

Yes. She does sound much more adult than that.

Still, she never belted like crazy.

Here’s a 2013 live version of one of her solo singles, so that you could hear how her voice aged (quite well IMO, but her solo stuff tends to be boring music-wise; this is one of the better tracks):

And for fun, here she is duetting with Ari Koivunen on a Bon Jovi cover in 2008.

Ari is a dude. But I’m fairly sure his voice never broke. He’s the one with straight hair, in case you have trouble telling who is who. He is about a year older than she is.

…and it only took fifty years!

Or, the science behind the Ents.

Supposing you didn’t fall out of your chairs laughing, let me remind you that this fifty year anniversary is today.

Who would’ve thought.

And who would’ve thought that in summer 2016, Hansi would sing in German for the first time on record, duetting with Micha “Das letzte Einhorn” Rhein of In Extremo.

And sing about all that is good in RUSSIA.

Over ten years ago, Hansi recorded a vocal line for one of our local bands called The Arrow. The album version is a duet with Alexander Cap, but I can’t seem to find it streamable anywhere. So you’ll have to do with a demo fragment that only features Hansi. Funny how it seems to have better production than the finished track… either way. Whatever the official German policy is/was/will be regarding Russia, good people are good people.

And let’s drink to that.

one band, two guests, two lead vocalists

There’s that Brazilian “progressive/power/symphonic/WTH metal” band called Angra. It’s damn good, musically speaking, but I’m not a fan of, like, most of their lead singers. Yes it’s one of those bands that does a Spinal Tap re:vocalists.

And it’s not because they’re bad. They’re actually consistently great. But great in the Bruce Dickinson/Roy Khan vein: in the sense I just can’t stand this particular type of voice. The timbres are not my cup of tea, and there are certain technical/stylistic aspects that I dislike.

But general technique-wise, they’re so damn good that one of them – Edu Falaschi – actually _doesn’t_ get all trumpled and overshadowed by none other than Hansi Kürsch (and as you know, it’s not the easiest feat to accomplish).

Sometimes they’re so close that the author of the video made a couple of small mistakes assigning the lyrics to their voices.

That was a 2006 track, and fast forwarding to 2015 we get a new lead singer (Fabio Lione, from Italy) and a new Teutonic legend guesting: Doro Pesch.

Moreover, it gets worse from here because the guitar player also decided to do some singing.

I was going to feature a studio version first, but the only vid I could find has a semi-nude female vampire as the background image, so, being NSFW, it will reside under the cut with the live version of Winds of Destination.

Besides, in the live recording you will clearly see who sings what =)

Alright, to be fair, Doro did an inadvertent Elena Obraztsova to Rafael Bittencourt’s José Carreras (in the sense she doesn’t strain much to completely drown the poor dude, and you could hardly blame it on the sound technician), and in the studio version she uses an even darker, amazingly queenly and majestic tone, so, well, I guess surviving through that semi-nude vampire chick is a must =) // thank Opera for tabbed browser windows! //

Proceed under the cut to check out the other versions of these tracks! Continue reading “one band, two guests, two lead vocalists”

beautiful. just… beautiful.

Musically, it’s as good as Coronatus has always been; and Anny is a powerhouse, even better than on the previous album.

Visually, it’s definitely the best Coronatus video to date, and one of the best metal videos I have ever seen (and I’ve seen quite a few).

Yes it is a sad one. You could even say, a bit cliché. But for Coronatus, these topics come naturally.

one day I will hunt down this DVD, I promise

There was a day when Hansi Kürsch appeared live on three songs with his friends from Rage – in the days of Victor Smolski looking the way that even this asexual Fox can’t describe him any other way but “smoking hot”.

And this appearance gave rise to three amazing duets between Hansi and Peavy, which have thankfully been recorded in high quality for a rare but official release.

…people who maintain Hansi is a “baritone” should really give it some more thought.

…another fun tidbit: for many a fan/reviewer, that DVD came as a shock – since it was the first time they saw Mr Kürsch after that Important Haircut ™ (here’s the link if you don’t recognise the TV Trope concept), y’know. Some didn’t even recognise him; some got worried; and, well, that all was a subject of many a joke for quite some time.

But of course, if the first time you saw Hansi was here on my blog, you are going to recognise him no problem.