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.


Speaking of Kai Hansen and Blind Guardian…

…I definitely cannot overlook the fact that when they collaborate, it’s nothing of a surprise, and yet – it is always great to hear (and see) them together.

This a live version of an old BG song that was originally recorded with Kai doing guest vocals, but obviously usually Hansi performs it alone. And this time, Kai was there and joined the band onstage. They look to be having so much fun, the mood’s contagious =)

There is also Jon Schaffer (the guy in shorts) there, but he’s not really the focal point of the performance =)

Yes I tend to prefer live versions to studio ones, even when the quality is not that stellar. Studio recording (arranging, performing, actual recording, mixing, mastering…) is an art of its own, one I equally appreciate, but if a song can be played live, then it should. Because then, it truly lives. Pardon the silly pun.

Then, there is that studio track from Gamma Ray’s 1995 album that Hansi does a cameo on. It’s an acoustic ballad, and a damn good one, IMO. Even those who aren’t fans of metal could check it out.

Unlikely collaborations – an example thereof

In case you are into metal, particularly European power metal, you should know the name of Kai Hansen – one of the founders of Helloween, the heart and soul of Gamma Ray and a longtime friend of Blind Guardian.

But I won’t blame anyone for not being familiar with Heavenwood, a Portuguese goth metal/rock band. Okay, I’ve been a huge fan of their “Swallow” album for years, but that’s only because I run into it by chance in the 90s on a shady CD-ROM mp3 compilation. Yes that was a thing in Russia almost twenty years ago – pirated CD-ROMs full of low-quality mp3 music. I have long stopped having anything in common with illegal digital content (one of the biggest reasons being that with the fact that I listen to music that is primarily produced by those for whom it’s not a “day job” but an expensive hobby, every illegal download means that this musician has fewer and fewer reasons to actually keep at it), but those random compilations did serve a great job of introducing me to amazing artists whose work I have been following ever since.

I can’t say I have been following Heavenwood lately, though – they disbanded quite a while ago, and I thought it was for good. Today I found out they actually reunited in 2008, and are fairly active on facebook now, which is a lovely surprise – although I have yet to listen to their latest two releases.

Okay, but what does a Portuguse band have in common with a German singer/guitarist?

Well… this awesome 1998 ballad:

Hard to pinpoint why, but I love vocal duets (or “trios”, for that matter, but it’s a rare thing). Multiple vocalists interacting was one of the things that drew me into opera (yes that’s right, I do not come from some posh family where it’s, like, a hereditary vice; my love for opera is my own choice). And here we get a particularly interesting example of two male singers with contrasting voices duetting in a “dark” genre, where those higher parts are usually reserved for women.