Monday, December 29, 2014

Best Books I Read: 2014

As usual, I've compiled a list of the best books I read throughout the year! I love making these end-of-year lists! I feel like I've read a ton of stellar ones this year, but, I've got to narrow it down somehow. This list consists of all the books I gave 5 out of 5 stars to on Goodreads. According to my stats, the two genres I read the most from this year are science fiction and classics, and for the most part, this seems to be represented in my list of favorites this year. Enjoy!

Marcelo in the Real World
by Francisco X. Stork

This book is perfect; I couldn't stop gushing over it! I loved everything about Marcelo in the Real World: The characters were crafted phenomenally, the general concepts were interesting (plus, this is the first time I ever read a POV of someone with autism), and oh my goodness, there was so much emotion! There were moments that sent butterflies fluttering around my stomach but there were also moments where I was fuming mad over the rudeness that some characters aimed at Marcelo. Hence, in this beautiful contemporary, Marcelo discovers that there are some people in the real world that are kind-hearted and make our lives better, but there are others that are devious and corrupt. It took forever for me to get around to this novel, but now that I've read it, it's one of my favorites.

Cloud Atlas turned out to be quite an intriguing read, which is what I was expecting based on what I'd been hearing. I heard it was a confusing story about reincarnation, but I honestly wasn't very confused. I thought Cloud Atlas was a brilliant idea; readers are essentially reading more than one story, but they're all connected. They're even different genres, so the book can appeal to just about any lover of fiction. (Personally my favorite story was that of Somni-451, which is a dystopian story.)


The Bell Jar
by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath's only novel is a very depressing piece of fiction, and as I mentioned in my classics post, that fact isn't helped by how Sylvia Plath's life ended. But perhaps the biggest reason this novel won me over is through Plath's beautiful writing style. She has to be one of my favorites in terms of how pretty her prose was. And while I also mentioned in my classics post that I couldn't relate to the general story very well because I hadn't truly been 'under the bell jar,' I didn't specifically mention that this disconnection caused me to feel detached from the metaphor... But about a month or so later, I saw someone who looked as though they were indeed under a bell jar. Now I understand that Sylvia Plath picked the most accurate metaphor.

In the beginning, I had about zero ambition to read this book. Cinderella retelling? No thanks. I'm not into fairytale retellings. Sailor Moon retelling? People who live on the moon? Heavy on the science fiction aspect? Now we're talking. I can't believe I put this book off for so long; it's amazing! Cinder is a fantastic character and the world that this is set in is so interesting! For the first time in a long time, I wanted the sequel, Scarlet, ASAP (and of course, the bookstore never had Scarlet in hardcover, so I had to wait forever). I definitely recommend Cinder for those who haven't read it yet - whether you like fairtytale retellings and Sailor Moon or not.

by Marissa Meyer

I devoured this book in huge gulps and fangirled my face off. Scarlet, the second book in Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series, may have even better than Cinder. The characters in this book are absolutely wonderful; more have been added since the first installment and the newbies are just as prominent as the characters we've already met. Cinder and Scarlet are both pretty badass in their own ways, Kai is sweet and troubled, Thorne is adorable and hilarious, and Wolf is so complex and sounds so attractive.

by Marissa Meyer
I also devoured Cress in huge gulps and fangirled my face off. It's been a while since I've read all of the available books in a series in one year instead of getting distracted by other books, and I must say, so far, all of the Lunar Chronicles books are grade A material. Cress is a fantastic character; I'm very happy she's on our little team of heroes, and it was so interesting to watch her relationship develop with Thorne - so cute! There was definitely a lot going on; putting the book down to do things like eating and sleeping was difficult. However, there's a messy situation at hand... Well, there are a couple of messy situations at hand, and I'm so stoked for the next book, Winter (which comes out next November) to find out what happens. 

Where do I even begin? I absolutely adored Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, which is one of my favorite novels of all time, and ever since reading it, I've wanted to read everything by the Bronte sisters. After reading Villette, Charlotte is officially my favorite author. Even though it was written about one hundred and fifty years ago, it is by far the most groundbreaking novel I've ever read. Even now, nothing about Villette is conventional, and I don't think a better picture of jealousy and loneliness has ever been painted. Our heroine Lucy Snowe must be an independent woman; she must learn to let go, and her love M. Paul Emanuel undergoes a series of changes before he can accept a woman like Lucy. Villette is one of my favorite books, hands down.

by George Orwell

I must say, I'm not easily frightened when it comes to books, but this one scared the crap out of me. I don't think George Orwell could've crafted a nightmare any more thoroughly. If I was an author I'd be so afraid of giving my book a year for a title, especially if that year isn't too awfully far into the future, but 1984 is far from dated; it's still sparking discussions and concerns long after its birth and futuristic date. Not only is our technology getting eerily similar to what's described in 1984, but no matter what time period we live in, the power of individual thought will always be praised and should never be taken from anyone.

Another book that took me far too long to get around to reading. I absolutely loved the first book in this series, Across the Universe, and A Million Suns lived up to the hype. Just when we think we've understood what's going on aboard the spaceship Godspeed, Beth Revis metaphorically slaps us in the face and challenges everything we knew by thickening the mystery. It's just as action-packed as the first one, too, and has a way of making me so nervous for our main characters Amy and Elder. I loved it!


The final book of the Across the Universe trilogy. Shades of Earth is by far the most different of the series, but I enjoyed it all the same. Tons of action, tons of mystery, and bits of romance - what's not to like? I loved every single book in this trilogy equally, easily making it one of my favorites. It's something that both guys and girls can enjoy; I highly recommend it to any sci-fi fan.

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
I picked up this one solely because a teacher recommended it, so I didn't really know what to expect before picking it up with the exception of some really solid writing. The dialogue of the characters is a bit difficult to get used to, but the narration itself is gorgeous, and I've never read a story quite like this. It follows a woman named Janie who never seems to find a perfect relationship, until she meets Tea Cake, who sees her as more than someone to work or just stand around and look pretty all day. I don't want to give anything away, but I've never read anything where characters happen to be in certain circumstances, particularly where nature is concerned. I actually cried a little bit at the end. Their Eyes Were Watching God is definitely an underrated classic.

Feel free to let me know what you think of my selections and pass on any recommendations based on what I've listed for 2014. Hopefully you also read a lot of fabulous books this year - let me know what you enjoyed the most in 2014!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Top 20 Musical Singles of 2014 Countdown

Last year I counted down my top thirteen of 2013, and as another year has come and gone, it is time again to count down the best singles of the year. (I don't do non-singles because I tend to prefer them and we'd be here for another year.) 2014 was an amazing time for music (especially for any fans of female-fronted metal) so I decided to expand the list size to 20 singles. Let me tell you, I changed my mind about which song to include as the final single at #20 about ten times (and I even considered making this a top 25 post), but right now I'm confident. A large range of genres is incorporated since I tend to listen to bits of everything, such as symphonic metal, alternative, indie, rock, pop, electronic, classical crossover, rap... and whatever genre Seinabo Sey is. No matter who's reading this, I imagine you'll find something you like. (Except for country fans - sorry!)

"Fancy" - Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
I ABSOLUTELY HATED THIS SONG. I hated it beyond belief. But remember how Emma Stone hated "Pocket Full of Sunshine" in Easy A but kept singing it literally all weekend until she obviously felt differently? That's a perfect depiction of my relationship with this song. One minute I hated it, then I was singing Charli's chorus in the shower, then before I knew it I was blaring my car's speakers having some sort of jam sesh as I was driving to the grocery store. Furthermore, this video is adorable; I love that it throws back to Clueless and Iggy's hair is fabulous.

"I Forgive (But I Won’t Forget Your Name)" - Lacuna Coil
 "I Forgive (But I Won't Forget Your Name)" is one of the more mellow Lacuna Coil singles though it isn't a ballad. Cristina Scabbia really owns the song's chorus and pre-chorus (which, sadly, is only present before the second chorus) with her strong vocals, and of course, with the fact that the vocal lines are quite catchy in these sections. It's just a great rock track overall; most fans of the genre will be quite content with it.

"Victims of Contingency" - Epica
 Metal fans, ever hear a guitar riff and think "OMG WHAT IS THIS AMAZING THING THAT'S HAPPENING TO MY EARS?" That was my thought process as I heard the heavy intro to this song. This Epica track features Mark Jansen growling in the verses with Simone Simons (and the choir) coming in between his lines and dominating the chorus. Keep in mind that if this is your first Epica experience, try not to mind some of the awkward arm movements in the video.

"The Heart Wants What it Wants" - Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez has the ability to really impress me with her catchy music, and she did it again in a whole different way with the raw "The Heart Wants What it Wants," which deals with her complicated relationship with renowned douchebag Justin Bieber. Hence, it's an emotional track with catchy vocals and a great instrumental. Gomez is certainly not the first woman to feel as this song describes, and unfortunately she won't be the last.

"Big Bad Wolf" - In This Moment
 In This Moment is the only band I can say I have followed throughout the entirety of their career right from the start in 2007, and unfortunately I'm overall extremely disappointed in them for their latest release, Black Widow, but I did really enjoy the second single "Big Bad Wolf." The vocals in the verses are unconventional and off-putting at first, but in the grand scheme of the song, I don't care. Maria Brink sounds invincible, whether she's half-muttering "Even in these chains you can't stop me" or completely screaming "PIG!" Plus, the chorus is incredibly catchy and always has me bobbing my head along.

(The video, however, is the epitome of what I don't like about Black Widow: it's not interesting and overuses sex and horror to the point that they're trying WAY too hard. I realize I'm hating pretty hard right now but I just had to spit that out.)

"Shake it Off" - Taylor Swift
 Taylor Swift is awesome. There, I said it. I liked some of her past country singles, and I really love her new pop direction as well. "Shake it Off" is just so carefree and fun... I have spent many a time in my car having a major jam session to this single every time it came on the radio. It's utterly infectious and makes me so happy with all of its prominent brass instruments and catchy vocals!

"A Lifetime of Adventure" - Tuomas Holopainen
 "A Lifetime of Adventure" is the beautiful first single from Tuomas Holopainen's (keyboardist and primary songwriter of Nightwish) concept album The Life and Times of Scrooge. With a light, classically-oriented instrumentation and whispy female vocals, this single really could've been on a Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack. It's perfect for winter. And if you don't like too much classical instrumentation, have no fear, there's a guitar solo for the last minute and a half.

"Hard Time" - Seinabo Sey
 I discovered "Hard Time" through a promo for the current season of Mob Wives, and apparently it was on an episode of Teen Wolf (I'm so far behind on that show it's ridiculous)... I was destined to find it somehow. And honestly, with its relaxing (yet sort of dark) vibe I'm surprised it isn't more popular by now. It manages to sound both classy and badass all at the same time, and I love it!

"Drop Dead Cynical" - Amaranthe
 "Drop Dead Cynical" is one of those songs that I thought I didn't like, but at one point I thought to myself "Why is this song always in my head? Why do I enjoy it being in my head when I don't like it?" From that point on I realized that it was freaking awesome. I know a lot of metal fans like to hate on Amaranthe because they use synths, but I love the combination of elements they use. I'm so excited that this energetic single is giving them recognition.

"And We Run" - Within Temptation ft. Xzibit
If you read my review of Within Temptation's Hydra, you're probably confused right now. I didn't like "And We Run" that much when I first heard it, but it slowly grew on me with its seemingly rushing piano line, gorgeous chord progressions, Sharon's vocals, and yes, even Xzibit. I wasn't into his rap styles at first, but the more I heard the song, the more I got it and understood how he really does fit this song. Weirdly enough, what was once my least favorite part is now my favorite: "Don't blink, you'll miss it / Lift up your head / We gotta get gone / Yeah, we outta here." Plus, the music video is fantastic; it's one of my two favorites of the year.

"Nightfall" - Xandria
The symphonic metal band Xandria has been on my radar ever since Dianne van Giersbergen joined. People were ecstatic about her vocal abilities and I had to see what all the hype was about. As it turns out, her voice gets all the credit it deserves, and form what I've observed so far, so does the music. "Nightfall" is an epic single, particularly with the operatic and choral chorus: "Here it comes / The story / Of mankind's final glory / Into the nightfall."

"Centuries" - Fall Out Boy
 So one day I was listening to the radio and this magic filled my ears... It was this song. Although I don't talk about them much on this blog, I've really loved Fall Out Boy's music throughout the years, but "Centuries" definitely stands out as a highlight of their career. The piano line of the first couple choruses creates so much anticipation, and I absolutely love that they sampled Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner." A lot of people are really entranced by the music video as well, but I don't find it to be quite as amazing. The song itself is obviously a different story; it's wonderful.

"The Power of Love" - Various Dutch Metal Artists
The Netherlands is the home of several talented metal artists, and in order to get people to donate to the Red Cross this holiday season, they treated us with a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "The Power of Love." With so many amazing musicians involved, the cover turned out to be very bold. There's a choir, several vocalists of all types, from Dianne van Giersbergen's operatic high notes to George Oothsoek's growls and almost everything in between. I'm very happy with how it turned out.

"Best Friend" - Foster the People
This single helped define my summer. "Best Friend" was on repeat for a couple of solid weeks, and once in a while it gets stuck in my head. Even though it's different that a lot of what I listen to, I'm so drawn to this song, not only for the lyrics that seem so random at first ("When your best friend's all strung out...") and the weird-but-awesome video - those verses are genial and catchy.

"Nothing Stands in Our Way" - Lacuna Coil
Lead single "Nothing Stands in Our Way" is one of my favorite songs from Lacuna Coil's latest album Broken Crown Halo. The band truly does sound invincible with its powerful riffs and fierce vocals from Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro. To this day, it's still hard for me to listen to this song and not bang my head a little, especially when the chorus breaks down and pulsates for the middle eight. And Scabbia's last line? Perfect.

"Unchain Utopia" - Epica
 "Unchain Utopia" is the melodic (though still heavy) second single from their masterpiece album The Quantum Enigma. The choir dominates the powerful chorus and Simone Simons' pretty voice takes control of the verses, but in the final chorus, she gets to show off and it sounds incredible: "We won't succumb to your deceiving games / Conquer the insane / Time to free ourselves once more from the ball and chain." Go figure, Epica made another amazing song.

"The Mute" - Radical Face
Radical Face is one of the most underrated artists out there, so if you haven't heard his music yet, you need to. If you haven't heard "The Mute" yet, you need to, because it's remarkable. Every time I hear it, I love it a little more. The music video is one of my two favorites this year - and it's homemade by Radical Face and his friends and family. The video truly fits the song, for they're both simple, but they're so well done and oh so indie.

"Chandelier" - Sia
 Sia has worked on some great pop songs throughout her life, whether she was just writing for other artists, singing with other artists, or producing her own solo material. I'm sure many would agree that "Chandelier" is one of the best songs of the year and one of her personal best tracks. Sia's songwriting ability and vocal ability both shine - because we all know the explosive chorus of this song is NOT easy to sing (seriously, this single should have come with a warning label: Do not try this at home). This is definitely my favorite pop song of 2014. I just let it play and let loose (though not with as much enthusiasm and talent as the girl in the video... her performance was just as amazing).

"The Rains of Castamere" - Jackie Evancho
Jackie Evancho blew the world away on America's Got Talent with her gorgeous voice, and she did it again with the Game of Thrones cover of "The Rains of Castamere." Fans of both her and the fantasy series were raving over this single when it was released, for it is an extremely impressive cover in ever way, shape, and form. The instrumentation is beautiful, her voice is beautiful... It's an incredible first single that will undoubtedly stand out as one of the best of her career. Rather than show off her higher notes, Evancho shows the world she can hit haunting low notes as her voice has matured even more since her debut.

"The Essence of Silence" - Epica
 Lo and behold my favorite single of the year, "The Essence of Silence." This powerhouse is the lead single from The Quantum Enigma and it's utterly flawless. The verses are exemplary of beauty and the beast contrasts as the two vocalists sing every other line, with Simone Simons at her operatic best and Mark Jansen on growls and screams. Heavy riffs fill the song but the band's classical element is definitely still there with strings, choir, and piano making appearances throughout (especially that piano line in the second verse - perfection). I was stunned when I first heard it and I still love it just as much - what an amazing track!

...and that's a wrap! Let me know what you think of my list and tell me what some of your favorite singles (or just songs in general) were this year - I'd love to know! As usual, I'll be posting a Best Books list and a book-related survey sometime soon.
Here are my 2013 music links, if you're interested:
(I made this Excluded post because there were a lot of fantastic songs in 2013 that I either didn't find in time or forgot about and I wanted to acknowledge them in some way... but I'm never doing this again because you know what I did? I forgot songs to put on it and remembered a month later. FAIL.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing This Year

I hope you've all been having a fantastic holiday so far! The holiday season is my favorite time of year (along with summertime) in general, but I also really love the end-of-year blogging rituals we do like making fun lists and surveys. This week, I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday, a fun and popular bookish meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Our topic for this week is a festive one for the holidays:

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing This Year
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
The Bone Clocks is David Mitchell's latest album which was released just a couple months ago. So far, the only novel I've read from him is Cloud Atlas, and I was really impressed by it. Apparently The Bone Clocks also displays how people's lives are connected in strange ways, but it follows a psychic. Sounds promising. P.S. - Am I the only one who absolutely adores this cover?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
 This one seems to be a favorite of a fair amount of blogs and vlogs, and the more I hear about it, the more I need to read this book as well as the rest of the trilogy. From what I've heard, it's a really complicated paranormal... As we all know, sometimes paranormal novels can fall into a bit of a pattern. I'm eager to see how this is different.
Redeemed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Yes everyone, this is the last one. The twelfth and final book of the House of Night series was released last October and I really hope I get it for Christmas. But no matter when I get it, I will be reading it eventually, and I will be reading it happily... Please tell me I'm not the only one who actually really likes this series.
Alien Secrets by Annette Curtis Klause
I've been trying to find this book forever, but it isn't easy to get a hold of. I adore Klause's books The Silver Kiss and Blood and Chocolate; I've read them both a couple times. Her plots may be supernatural, but there's something about them that flows like contemporary... I don't know how she does it. I think her writing style is beautiful.
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
 I've wanted to read this since it came out in 2010. Every review I read sounded really promising and I've never read anything with this sort of description. Santa should totally bring this because it sounds really good and I don't really have any unread contemporary in possession at the moment.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
 Badass female assassin? Fantasy? New pretty covers? Sure, I'll read this! To be honest, I don't even know much about this book or about the others in the series, but it's always sparked my interest for some reason... Probably because even though I love fantasy, I don't think I read enough of it. (I suppose the same could be said of contemporary too.)
A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Grey
I've never read anything by Claudia Grey before, but one day I saw this beautiful book cover and I was intrigued. After reading the synopsis I added it to the TBR. It just sounds so interesting since it deals with all the possibilities of multiverses. Hopefully it ends up being as cool as it looks.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This is one of those books where I've heard tons of amazing things about but haven't gotten around to reading yet. It's pretty much always been on my TBR but I somehow just never end up buying it and get distracted by all the other cool books I also need to get around to reading. But lately, the synopsis itself has really been screaming "THIS WILL BE AMAZING" louder than usual.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Don't yell at me. I know. It's ridiculous that I haven't read the well-beloved If I Stay yet, but I wasn't sure if I'd like it for a little while. Now that I've seen movie trailers, I think I more than likely will, and one of my closer friends really recommends it. However... I'm just worried that it'll make me cry. Because it probably will.
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
There are a lot of people that really, REALLY love this book, but there are also quite a few who just couldn't get into it because of the main character. So... I suppose this could go one of two ways for me, but I'd like to give it a try. If Santa brought it this year, I wouldn't complain.
Do you like any of the books I listed? Do you dislike any of them? As always, let me know and feel free to leave the link to your own Top Ten Tuesday lists. Hopefully we get and give some great books this year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014: The Year of Female-Fronted Metal

From left to right: Sharon den Adel of Within Temptation, Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, Simone Simons of Epica, Dianne van Giersbergen of Xandria, Elize Ryd of Amaranthe.

It's no secret that 2014 was a huge year for female-fronted metal bands. Nearly all of the biggest names ranging from metalcore to symphonic metal released an album this year, with the exception of Nightwish, who are preparing to release their first studio album with Floor Jansen next year. I listen to so many of the groups that had new releases this year, so my ears were made quite happy by a portion of these albums. Even when an album seemed to fall flat in my opinion, it's always wonderful to anticipate new releases from favorite artists.

Right at the beginning of the year symphonic metal fans had a reason to be excited with Within Temptation's Hydra. With a killer lead single and a tantalizing album trailer, I was counting down the days until a copy would be in my hands. Every one of Within Temptation's albums tend to sound different from one another, and Hydra is no exception. The sound is heavier than the previous album and there's plenty of variety; between "Silver Moonlight," a song with growls like in the days of Enter and The Dance EP; "And We Run," a duet with rapper Xzibit; and "Edge of the World," an extremely powerful ballad with an intense second half. Within Temptation impressed me once again.
A few more albums were released in the spring, starting with Lacuna Coil's Broken Crown Halo. I overall have respect for Lacuna Coil, but a lot of their songs are hit-and-miss for me. This was generally the case for Broken Crown Halo (that poor, unfortunate album title) though I see it as a step of improvement from Dark Adrenaline, with highlights like "Nothing Stands in Our Way" and "I Burn in You." Epica, on the other hand completely floored me with The Quantum Enigma. This album is phenomenal. It's easily my favorite of 2014; it was in my CD player for two months straight and has made plenty of trips back in there since then. I'm not exaggerating. Catchy and complex tracks fill this album in a way that puts it in the same league as even The Divine Conspiracy and Design Your Universe, and the way everything is mixed sounds so crisp!
Also in the spring, Xandria released their latest album, Sacrificium. Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to really listen to this album yet aside from three tracks, but from what I've heard thus far, I'm sure it's a great piece of work. While I'd always heard of Xandria, I never heard many of their songs. I know they've had quite a few singers in their past, and I'm sure they were all fine musicians, but I never heard them receive so much unabashed praise until Dianne van Giersbergen joined. Based on what I've heard, I can understand why. Her voice is very well-honed and very beautiful.
Fast forward to October: the still up-and-coming modern metal band Amaranthe released Massive Addictive, the third studio album they've recorded since their debut in 2011. I only began listening to their music this year, and while Massive Addictive has a number of incredible tracks, like "Dynamite," "Digital World," "Massive Addictive," and "Drop Dead Cynical," I just don't hear enough variety between many of their songs. Not bad, but they could be better.
The final major release of the year is the one that manage to truly disappoint me: Black Widow by In This Moment. I've been listening to this metalcore band since 2007 and have therefore been a fan for seven years, but I only liked about two songs from Black Widow. They're trying too hard to form an image and I find the music under par for my taste.
In addition, metal fans were treated to a wonderful cover of "The Power of Love" that we were to donate money to purchase in order to raise money for the Red Cross. This single consisted of several Dutch metal artists, including Simone Simons, Dianne van Giersbergen, Anneke van Giersbergen, Floor Jansen, Charlotte Wessels, and more. Within Temptation released their fourth live DVD of two shows in late fall called Let Us Burn: Elements and Hydra Live in Concert, and DVD releases from them will always get me pumped since they're one of the best live acts EVER. Delain and Tarja also released albums this year (I don't listen to either much), and even though she isn't part of the metal world, many fans of female-fronted metal enjoy Amy Lee's music, and she released Aftermath (containing songs from a movie she scored called War Story). Unfortunately nothing new from Nightwish was released in 2014, but their next album is scheduled for the first half of 2015. This will be their first album with Floor Jansen, and while I always get excited to hear new music from them, I am especially excited to hear how their music will evolve with Floor.

But alas, 2014 completely spoiled female-fronted metal fans so much that I'm afraid next year may seem anti-climatic in comparison. Just think of the loads and loads of new music we got this year! I can't imagine a niche audience ever being so pleased. 2014 will certainly be remembered for its remarkable set of releases.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Dutch Metal Artists Collaborate for a Cause: "The Power of Love"

Epica, Floor Jansen, Within Temptation, George Oothsoek, Dianne van Giersbergen, Anneke van Giersbergen, Delain... The Netherlands has produced some of the most talented artists in metal, particularly in symphonic metal. But now, these musicians (along with several others) have come together for the 2014 Serious Request to create a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "The Power of Love." Fans can donate just about any amount they want (starting at two euros) to purchase the track, and the money will go to the Red Cross to help victims of sexual violence. You can read more details about the cause and donate to get the track here. It's a perfect holiday gift for Dutch metal fans and provides a simple way for us to get together and support a cause.
As a fan of Within Temptation, I knew that "The Power of Love" could become really epic in this setting - WT actually covered it themselves on their Q-Music Sessions cover album and it blew me away. This specific cover takes a different, more bombastic approach. The entire song brings out a lot of nostalgia for Dutch metal as a whole in both instrumentation and vocals. Of course, the blend of classical and metal elements is ever-present, but the verses are very mellow, reminding me of some of the 90s and early 2000s European metal (not just the Dutch). But the chorus, particularly the end, is absolutely powerful. The choir and the huge list of skilled vocalists make such a bold statement. As one would expect, there's a good blend of both male and female vocals throughout, and different vocal styles shine throughout: Operatic, whispers, growls, choirs, belted vocals with a grungier side... Everything one could ever ask for. This Dutch metal fan is certainly pleased, and I'm sure many will be with an amazing lineup like this.
All you have to do is donate and enjoy.