Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Character Names I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is an extremely fun meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today, bloggers must compile our Top Ten Character Names/Top Ten Unusual Character Names. I guess I got two birds with one stone because my favorite character names are unusual!

It didn't take me long to write such a list, for there have always been quite a few names that have stood out to me. But it was after I finished it that I realized how much I love names that are either weird, old, or both (which is why I love constellation names). I'm definitely curious to see other bloggers' lists for this topic because I want to know if I'm the only one who's a fan of such unconventional names, and maybe I'll find some other cool names.
But enough rambling, here's my list for the week:
- From Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Arraine Alter
- From Fallen by Lauren Kate
- From Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
- From the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- From New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
- From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
- From The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Erik Night
- From the House of Night series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
- From the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- From the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black

What do you guys think? Do you like any of these names? Please let me know and have a happy Tuesday!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hallelujah! Floor Jansen is Staying in Nightwish

Every fan of symphonic metal knows that Nightwish has had some very prominent line-up changes. They started out with operatic powerhouse Tarja Turunen, but Anette Olzon took her place. Much drama tainted the fandom with this switch (which I discuss a bit in this post), for Anette's voice is so different than Tarja's. Anette has more of a rock/pop sound, and many complained that she wasn't the true face of Nightwish. Personally, I loved the two albums Anette made with Nightwish (Dark Passion Play and Imaginaerum) but I've often been the odd one out in this situation.
However, even though I liked Nightwish with both Tarja and Anette, I never felt that either of them were the perfect fit for the music per se, with certain exceptions. Both have made amazing records with Nightwish, and both have made very different records with Nightwish. I love their sound with Tarja, and I love their sound with Anette. The only problem is, we'd never have both at the same time.
Recently, Anette left the band while they were on tour, and Floor Jansen of After Forever and ReVamp filled in. I'd never been a Floor fan simply because I'd never been a fan of any of the bands she's been in, I knew her voice well enough to know that she'd be able to bring older Tarja songs to the setlist, and all the tarja fans that loathed Anette would love Floor. I was indifferent. I tried looking up videos of live sets with Floor, but the crowds were oftentimes too loud for me to properly judge. Yet, I did.
Then, I saw an HQ video of Floor singing "Ghost Love Score" with the band in Buenos Aires. It's a long, classic Nightwish tune originally performed by Tarja on the album Once. I was sort of impressed, sort of indifferent as I heard the first half. It was good, no doubt about it. But then when things got epic during the second half, I kept becoming more and more excited. I saw how great she is with this band, a subconscious process I began to feel effects of amid my happiness.
Then I heard her new ending of the song; I heard the note. The note. I cried. This band I've always loved despite never finding either singer to necessarily be the perfect fit... Floor is the perfect fit. She didn't just fit; she helped enhance. Her ability to switch up vocal styles as needed made her unique as a singer already, but now that she's been with a band that has music that appeals to my personal taste, I can now truly appreciate her.
For a while, this was all very bittersweet. Though Nightwish finally found a singer that I consider perfect for the music, there was a possibility that she'd only stay for that tour and not an album. But, in this press release found on the official Nightwish site, it has been confirmed that she is the new lead singer of Nightwish.
I'm so excited and relieved to hear that she's staying. When I found out, I couldn't stop fangirling! She's a great vocalist and frontwoman for Nightwish, and the rest of the band seemed to be so happy with her performing alongside them. I can't wait to hear how the band will evolve for her voice on the next album, and I really want to see them live next time.
Towards the end of the year, their live DVD with Floor at the Wacken Open Air festival, Showtime, Storytime, will be released. "Ghost Love Score" is on the set, and the very performance in Buenos Aires that made me a Floor fan will be a bonus feature. It's as if they knew I'd want it. Until we can all get our hands on this DVD, I assume there will be much celebration among the fanbase. In all honesty, I haven't heard a single negative comment about Floor. For the first time since 2007, I think nearly all Nightwish fans will be happy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Paradise (What About Us?) EP | Within Temptation

After postponing the release of their upcoming LP to January of 2014, Within Temptation has given us the Paradise (What About Us?) EP, which is titled after the future album's first single. In addition to the single, three demos of songs that will be included on the full-length album are featured, giving fans a taste of what to expect from the future LP and easing the pain of waiting.
The lead single is the first track on this little EP. "Paradise (What About Us?)" is a duet with former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen, and it's a heavier single than one may expect, especially since the singles from their last album, The Unforgiving, were a bit  more mainstream than usual. Still, it's a great single choice with its catchy string line and high-profile collaborator. It's hard to stop listening, and it's hard to keep from singing along. Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel and Tarja may be very different singers, but they sound great together on this powerful track. Tarja's vocalizing seemed to morph into the general instrumentation; vocalization in that sense has been one of my favorite elements of Within Temptation, and it's what I missed most on The Unforgiving. I truly hope that the extra vocal line written for Tarja is a sign that den Adel will get plenty of opportunities to do so on the upcoming LP.

The first of the demos we've been privileged to hear on this EP is called "Let Us Burn," and it sounds amazing in this unfinished form. The opening riffs are so dark and epic, and much like during Within Temptation's first album Enter, that cool part is repeated a few times, as if the band actually realizes that it'd be the best part. That part is the basis of the chorus, and Sharon den Adel's voice hits some impressive notes considering she's using her chest voice. (She typically switches to the upper register.) The verses are interesting enough with a subtly dark feel, and the middle eight is very prominent; den Adel's voice is distorted amid driving guitars and a male choir, but then the whole thing just explodes. "Let Us Burn" is fantastic; it's like a combination of The Heart of Everything and The Unforgiving.

But there are more throwbacks on this EP. "Silver Moonlight" brings back Robert Westerholt's grunts, which haven't been heard in Within Temptation's music since the song "Jane Doe" nearly ten years ago. I never thought I'd say this, but it sounds like a combination of Enter and The Unforgiving... Weird combination, I know. Though it starts out mellow, it's a fast-paced, heavy track, and den Adel pushes her vocal limit in the pre-chorus, practically yelling "NO!"

Our small preview of what to expect of the LP coming in January ends with "Dog Days," which is basically the ballad of EP, but it isn't particularly a slow song per se. It's very atmospheric in the verses, but guitars come in during the chorus. I was a bit caught off-guard by the vocals in the chorus; we run into yet another throwback. In their earlier music, I always thought Sharon den Adel's voice was so eerie and shrill, and I haven't heard her quite like this since Mother Earth. I must say, I'm quite happy we get to hear her sing in that way again, though her voice sounds good no matter what she's doing with it. The song itself sounds very emotional, and I really like the chord progression at the end of the chorus. I'm especially excited to hear what this will sound like on the LP since I imagine the instrumentation will definitely change up a bit.

So, that's it from Within Temptation for now, and I must say I'm very pleased with the direction they're headed musically. Just about any fan can find something they like on this sample EP, for Within Temptation are creating something completely new while paying homage to their past sounds. I was definitely not disappointed in what this EP had in store; it's making me even more excited for the new album. Since the demos and lead single sound great, I can confidently predict that this new album is going to blow everyone away. I can't wait to hear it!

Until then, we all must enjoy this EP. It is, after all, very solid material.