Ayreon – 01011001

After almost four years, Arjen Anthony Lucassen released the new Ayreon album, 01011001. My guess is that Arjen decided this would be the album that would connect all Ayreon stories, from the blind minstrel to the last migrator. And it does. Unfortunately, from a musical stand point, the album fails to deliver anything impressive.

The songs are completely unimaginative. Sometimes, when not paying attention to the lyrics, I thought I was hearing some other Ayreon album. The same rhythm, the same sounds… nothing new. And when Hansi Kürsch sings, it really feels like you are listening to Blind Guardian, not Ayreon (in contrast, when Mike Baker sung in “The Human Equation”, you didn’t feel like listening to Shadow Gallery. And I would dare to say that when James LaBrie sung in the same album, it also didn’t feel like Dream Theater.)

So far, I would say that’s the weakest of all the albums. But who knows, maybe that was the idea, to give people some context for the next album…

Avantasia – Scarecrow

Latest Avantasia album, “Scarecrow” finally hit the market. And I finally got a copy. So, what we can say about it?

First, this is not Avatansia. Sorry about that, but it isn’t. It is not about Gabriel and his quest to save his sister, while trying to save the universe from clashing with another universe, due the actions of an evil bishop. No, not at all.

This is “Tobias Sammet’s friends – Scarecrow.”

My guess is that Tobias really liked to play with another people and decided to use the name Avantasia for this project. So, fans of Avantasia, sorry but this isn’t part III. On the other hand, for those who like melodic metal, this is an awesome album! And not just melodic metal fans, people who like power ballads will really enjoy “Cry Just a Little” and “What Kind of Love”. I would even dare to say that “What Kind of Love” beats “Farewell” in any competition, hands down.

I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

I still don’t get the online music stores

So, first I didn’t understand why Amazon MP3 was available globally. Then I bought I MacBook and start using the iTMS and thought “now I can have anything I want.”

Yesterday, for some stupid reason, I decided to change the country in the iTMS listing. Why? Well, for a long time I’m waiting for “Edguy – Scarecrow” and “Ayreon – 01011001” to show up, but none of those are available. So I changed the store to Germany and guess what? There they are. “Ok, I’ll buy them now, then. I don’t care paying in euros.” Well, the thing is, you can’t buy things that are not available in your account country.

And that’s something that really annoys me. In one hand, you have all the major record companies complaining about piracy and, in the other, they make things harder to get if you’re not in one of the major countries. The greatest failure of the record companies is not realizing that this thing called “internet” actually works in the whole planet, not just some countries.

We always take the side of the famous one

A long time about (a year?) Nightwish split. I can recall people saying that Tarja complained that Tuomas never tell her how was the “feeling” of the song, that she had to put her own emotions on the lyrics and figure out what they really meant. I guess it was written in her open letter, after the other band mates put an open letter explaining why they decided to keep going without her.

All that time, I followed that idea: Tarja was right, Tuomas was not a good leader and she was unrightfully thrown out of the band.

And then came the new singer and the new album Dark Passion Play.

And guess what? It is really awesome. They are back in the classical/metal mix, not the somewhat-classical/kinda-pop songs. Which makes me rethink the reasons behind Tarja being thrown out. One of the reasons said in the open letter form the band said that she became “too comercial.” Now, looking back at their latest album, the pop one, it really looks like they were trying to reach a different group. You know, one not in the metal/classical area. I can’t say for sure, but maybe someone pushed the strings to that direction.

I’m changing my opinion now: Nightwish is better without Tarja.

The hidden cost of buying digital products online

Today I had my first experience using a digital music provider system. I was there, with my MacBook in front of me, listening to the same old songs and there was that “Store” option right in the screen. “What the hell,” I thought. “It may not be all that bad.” So, after browsing some bands, all which had things I already had or not so interesting albums, I decided to buy the latest “Shadow Gallery” album, “Prime Cuts.”

There is one thing weird about online shopping for things you don’t see. There is no waiting for boxes, no cashing you must take out of your wallet… And iTunes also makes the process of paying completely invisible: you provide your credit card information on account creation and it is never displayed again. So you don’t see your money going out and you don’t see things coming in; ok, maybe your playlist will get larger, but you don’t get that plastic box that you throw out a few months later because you ripped the album anyway and bout a larger storage for your CDs. But, in essence, it is a completely empty process (in what you feel when paying and receiving.)

It is so completely invisible that I manage to buy three more albums before getting worried about how much I was wasting. “Carved in Stone” and “Tyranny“, also by Shadow Gallery. “Crystalline Dreams” and “Alaska” are the awesome songs in the first album (and if Alaska doesn’t use that namesake song as their anthem, they should have their heads examinated, as the lyrics makes you want to move to Alaska.) And “Synthesize” by “Information Society“, a band I thought was dead in the beginnings of the 90s. Still doesn’t sound as “popper” as InSoc was in the end of the 80s, sounding more like techno but hey, it is still InSoc and they sound almost like before, being not so depressive as “Don’t Be Afraid.”