I'm in the remote town of Baie-Comeau right now where I stay with a friend and his family. I've also been working on a new curriculum vitae and had some sort of job interview in the region. I continue to look around in order to find a job somewhere in the beautiful province of Quebec. I'm going well even if many things concerning my future still remain uncertain. I will be back in Chicoutimi tomorrow to do the last four weeks of my final bachelor training.
I simply wanted to wish you all a very happy Easter. Take good care. I hope you appreciate the holiday and the time you may spend with your family and your friends.
Continue to support my blog and to follow my activities. Leave me a message if you want to stay in close contact with me. I'm always happy to get news from old and new friends, so don't be shy.
Le jeudi 21 mars, le groupe de Viking metal norvégien Einherjer est venu faire un tour au Saguenay, dans l’arrondissement Jonquière. Bien que l’ambiance à la place Nikitoutagan ait été festive, peu de spectateurs en ont profité.
Faute de publicité de la part des organisateurs et parce que la place Nikitoutagan est très peu visible sur Internet, le concert a eu lieu devant une petite foule autour de quarante personnes seulement. Les spectateurs présents étaient majoritairement masculins et certains sont même venus de l’extérieur pour assister au concert.
Malgré le nombre de visiteurs limités, les amateurs venus sur place ont participé à fond et festoyé chaleureusement et pacifiquement avec le quatuor norvégien et ses invités. Le groupe a offert un concert de 65 minutes et est revenu sur scène pour jouer deux reprises pendant quinze minutes. Le groupe a offert une bonne douzaine de chansons diversifiées que les amateurs ont su apprécier en chantant, dansant et festoyant vivement, même si la majorité des chansons étaient chantées en norvégien et une petite partie en anglais. La communication en anglais entre le groupe et le public était plutôt limitée au début, mais s’est améliorée lorsque que la glace a été cassée, après deux chansons plus faibles qui ouvraient le spectacle.
Le groupe a offert des pièces brutales et sombres d’un côté, mais aussi des pièces très épiques de près de dix minutes avec des éléments folkloriques et une ambiance cinématographique très élaborée. Certaines chansons, plus courtes et joyeuses, ont offert des refrains mémorables. Plus le concert avançait, plus les pièces devenaient diversifiées et uniques. Même ceux et celles qui ne connaissaient pas du tout ou très peu le groupe se sont rapidement faits convaincre par son approche atmosphérique, authentique et divertissante comme on pouvait lire sur les réseaux sociaux après la soirée.
Le groupe norvégien était accompagné par le groupe de black metal ontarien Panzerfaust. Le groupe de black metal folklorique Triskèle de Chicoutimi et de Saint-Honoré a, quant à lui, introduit la soirée.
Trop rare évènement
Malheureusement, ce genre de concerts devient de plus en plus rare en région. Depuis la fermeture du Bunker, le décollage difficile de l’ancien Auditorium Dufour renommé Théâtre Banque Nationale et la disparition des grands noms lors des festivals estivaux comme Jonquière en Musique, il y a de moins en moins d’artistes de renommée internationale nationale ou même provinciale qui font un détour par Saguenay.
Même des groupes québécois connus comme Les Trois Accords ou Grimskunk ont récemment boudé la plus grande ville en région pour jouer plutôt à Alma ou même à Dolbeau-Mistassini. Pourtant, il y a un très grand pôle de spectateurs potentiels au Saguenay avec de nombreux étudiants internationaux qui revitalisent la région chaque année et qui cherchent justement à faire des découvertes culturelles. Les bonnes infrastructures ne manquent pas non plus avec le nouveau Théâtre Banque Nationale, la salle culturelle Le Sous-Bois, en bas du Café Cambio, et le Centre Georges-Vézina pour ne nommer que des lieux de spectacle potentiels dans l’arrondissement de Chicoutimi.
Pourtant, après avoir assisté à de nombreux spectacles à Chicoutimi, Jonquière et La Baie au cours des dernières années, les années 2012 et 2013 étaient et sont plutôt décevantes sur le plan des sorties culturelles en ville. Espérons qu’il ne s’agit que d’un bas temporaire et que la ville attirera davantage d’artistes internationaux et nationaux de moyenne ou grande renommée dans la 7e plus grande agglomération de la belle province et le plus grand centre intellectuel du nord du Corridor Québec-Windsor.
Le petit spectacle d’Einherjer a au moins prouvé que certains groupes n’ont pas encore oublié la région et se forcent à faire un tour dans notre belle région de plus en plus délaissée par les artistes. Il faut faire plus de promotion pour la région et communiquer directement avec les artistes, organisateurs et promoteurs pour qu’il y ait un changement positif. Le maire Jean Tremblay et Promotion Saguenay ont relevé ce défi et ont fait davantage rayonner Saguenay, mais ils ont besoin du soutien engagé d’experts en la matière pour qu’on puisse de nouveau assister à de nombreux spectacles de qualité en région.
Infos sur le groupe
Le nom du groupe est inspiré du mot « Einherjar » qui signifie « combattants solitaires » en vieux norrois. Dans la mythologie nordique, ce sont de braves guerriers qui servent leur dieu principal Odin et la déesse majeure Freyja après leur mort. Le groupe norvégien existe depuis 1993 et a sorti cinq albums studio. Dans le cadre de son 20e anniversaire, il a fait une courte tournée du Canada qui était intitulée « Dragons over Vinland ». Le terme « Vinland » désigne le territoire découvert par le Viking islandais Leif Ericson autour de l’an 1000 dans le nord du Canada, qui correspond aujourd’hui à une partie de Terre-Neuve qui s’appelle l’Anse aux Meadows.
Seraphim 不死魂 / The Soul That Never Dies 2001 Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
The Taiwanese band Seraphim (or “六翼天使” in Mandarin Chinese) kicks off its career with a quite powerful record that can be described as female fronted power metal with progressive and especially symphonic elements. The band reminds me a little bit of the Finnish legends Nightwish in its symphonic approaches, and of the still heavily underrated Austrian Edenbridge in the more progressive moments of the talented song writing centered around mastermind and guitarist Hsu Kessier. He also performs a few harsh vocals that fit well with the concerned tracks, as they aren’t exaggerated or overused and add some atmosphere and tension to the development. These passages could also please to fans of Germans Atargatis or the Finnish Eternal Tears Of Sorrow for example, and give the album a slightly gothic inspired touch. A few warmer and melodic male vocals by bassist Yeh Jax add some more diversity in a few songs, and the band would craft even better tracks with these three quite different vocal approaches on their later records. Last but definitely not least, there are the angelic vocals by Lee Pay, who offers an operatic angle without sounding pretentious. I’m not able to listen to many female fronted metal bands because the vocals are sometimes too dramatic or even artificially flavored in my humble opinion, but Pay Lee is one of the best of her kind, and her vocals work so well because they are very emotional. She really seems to feel what she sings about and this authenticity is one of her strongest points.
Musically, Seraphim as a whole also stands apart from many other bands of their genre. Despite a limited budget, the production of the record is more than just acceptable. The keyboards don’t sound too artificial, and really add an impressive measure of atmosphere. The acoustic and electric guitar playing proves that Hsu Kessier and Chang Dan have a lot of potential as they add many melodic and vivid solos in the epic songs. The bass guitar and the drums are less outstanding, but grounded and solid, with a few shining moments on this release.
The problem with this record is that it probably kicks off with the two weakest songs, and makes you think its another power metal-inspired Nightwish clone. The first highlight comes along with “Immortal Silence”. It’s a speedy European flavored power metal anthem with vivid male death growls and heavenly female vocals. Pay Lee performs with conviction and spirit, and gives this song an almost religious touch. That’s how female angels must sing [Editor's note: Angels are technically sexless!]. She adds moments of calm and grace to an otherwise quite straightforward song that makes you want to bang your head!
From then on, the band proves all the talent that the different band members have. They offer epic tracks with almost cinematic atmospheres and complex song writing such as witnessed in the stunning title track “The Soul That Never Dies”. In some epics such as the closing “Majestic Farewell” or the diversified “Mind’s Sky”, the band even adds a progressive rock touch to its already quite diversified sound, and the calmer moments make me think of a band like Genesis, which is quite a leap in style. Seraphim manages to sound fresh, modern, and trendy, but they also add a nice retro touch with these progressive elements. However, they also know their metal roots and honor bands like Iron Maiden in the middle section of “Light Of The Setting Sun”, which is filled with almost perfectly executed melodic guitar solos that any metal music fan just has to adore.
Despite all this diversity, the band doesn’t forget to include a few straighter power metal tracks that freshen things up. “Samsara”, for example, boasts an unchained performance on the part of the drums. This kind of song is important to give the listeners a break between many very challenging and sophisticated long tracks. At the same time, they deliver a lot of energy and very catchy moments that qualify them for potential singles to attract a larger crowd.
In the end, this first release is already quite convincing. If the band hadn’t started the record with two lukewarm pieces, I would rate this even better, but a few tracks in the middle of the album also run on a bit. On the other hand, the band was already preparing a true masterpiece of symphonic power metal to be released one year later in form of the band’s magnum opus, “平等精靈 / The Equal Spirit”. This debut release is more than promising and worth your time and attention if you admire bands like Atargatis, Elis, Epica, Nightwish, and/or early Within Temptation. It announces greater things to come and can be seen as a first important step towards a brighter future.
Seraphim 平等精靈 / The Equal Spirit 2002 Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
One year after the very promising and energizing progressive/symphonic power metal debut 不死魂 / The Soul That Never Dies, the female fronted Taiwanese five piece comes around with a more than convincing successor. The new record, 平等精靈 / The Equal Spirit, was once again released in two versions, with Chinese or English lyrics, and clocks at over seventy-two minutes for twelve stunning tracks this time.
This album offers many trademarks established on the first record, and can be seen as logical step on the evolutionary ladder. The songwriting is similarly again diverse, and goes from beautiful ballads in the key of bands such as Xandria (as can be heard in “Vanishing Destruction”), to faster and modern stuff like “My Heart Is Dying” (which reminds me of a mixture of Edenbridge with Avenged Sevenfold – years before these bands even became known). The band convinces with a lot of progressive ideas and almost cinematic atmospheres. The musicianship shows an improvement from the already very well played debut album. The clean male vocals are sadly gone, but the mixture of more prominent harsh male vocals with the angelic performance of front woman Pay Lee sounds more balanced on this release than before. Tracks like “The Pride Of Twilight” and the outstanding “Last Memory” offer everything fans liked about the debut record: cinematic and epic atmospheres, fast riffs alternating with slower and darker heavy metal riffs, slightly progressive breaks, European power metal inspired guitar melodies, and last but not least, grounded and powerful female vocals that meet a few well employed male black metal vocals. Imagine the style of the debut record with an improvement in nearly all aspects.
There are also a few new elements as well. The sound and production have improved, and sound crystal clear. Many tracks sound more accessible and modern to me on the whole. The song structures are more coherent, and a few songs definitely focus solely on the powerful female vocals. Tracks like “Think This World” are not among my personal favorites, but their more commercialized approach, reminding me of Nightwish, should please a large crowd.
Ultimately, the band put some of the strongest songs of their entire career on this record that manage to stand out on a release that contains no filler material. The dramatic and highly diversified “Song Of Death” is such a track. Slight folk influences meet dry and sometimes almost groove metal-oriented riffs, while harmonious power metal guitar solos confront an overall rather dark atmosphere, and bleak male vocals contrast angelic female chants. The band unites all its strengths and mixes them more efficiently than ever before. Add to this a few surprises in the form of the intense final minute that dials back the speed and offers a slow and atmospheric instrumental closure where one can even hear a baby crying towards the end, and you have one impressive song. I think that this original conclusion adds an intriguingly emotional and human aspect to an otherwise quite pitiless track.
Another outstanding track on here works completely differently, and underlines the open minded diversity of this band. “Song Of Farewell” is enchanting, slow, and surprisingly soft tune that impresses with outstanding vocal performances, neoclassical guitar solos, chilling acoustic guitar parts, and a dominant keyboard that adds an epic touch to the song. Classic instruments in form of flute and string passages add a cinematic feeling as well, culminating in a truly sweet lullaby.
In the end, this record is, in my humble opinion, not only the best Seraphim record to date, but even one of the best female-fronted metal records of all time. This diversified, emotional, and technically outstanding release should definitely receive greater attention, and certainly has earned a place upon my list of personal favorites. If you want to get blown away by some honest, spiritual, and quality work, spread the name of this record and try it out without any hesitation.
Two years after the female fronted symphonic power metal milestone The Equal Spirit, Seraphim came around with another high class genre release that would mark singer Pay Lee’s swansong. The band kept the strong elements of the predecessor, such as epic symphonic elements, emotionally driven guitar, and the mixture of heavenly female vocals, dark growls, and a few clean male vocals. In addition to this, the band added a few clever instrumental tracks to lighten things up, as in “Gone“. Seraphim also finally honored its origins by including more Asian folk elements than before, as evidenced by the atmospheric and almost spiritual “Resurrect“.
Despite these positive elements, I give a slightly lower rating to this output than the previous. The reason is quite simple: because The Equal Spirit boasted an exclusive mixture of addicting and catchy tracks on one side, and intellectual epics on the other that directly touched my heart and soul. This third record still has four truly outstanding pieces that easily exceed the quality of many genre colleagues. The first highlight is without a doubt the aforementioned and quite original “Resurrect“. Then comes the epic, “Instantaneous“, with its diversified changes, sacral arrangements, great keyboard leads, technically impressive guitar solos, and the brilliantly grounded and powerful vocals by the now-deceased Pay Lee. Another positive is the great power metal anthem “Can’t Take”, with a sacral middle part that reminds me of the beautiful Pachelbel’s Canon (one of Baroque music’s very finest moments). Another track that caught me by surprise was the epic “My”, that stands out thanks to the best clean male vocal performance in the career of the band. The clean vocals perfectly harmonize with Peggy Lee and this dreamy power metal tune reminds me (in a very positive way) of Edenbridge. I would have liked to hear more tracks in this new vein. This song is probably my favorite track on the release.
The other songs simply don’t really discover new ground, and have lost some of their heavenly light atmosphere. A good example would be the track “Implementation”. It features growls and the soft female vocals, but these two elements harmonize less than usual, and add a rather confusing and hectic note to the song. This little imperfection isn’t anything that would bother your overall listening experience, but are an example of the kind of thing that was completely absent on the almost unbeatable predecessor. The same formula works marginally better in the haunting “Desperate”, but it’s still not on the same level as similar songs on the last release.
Nevertheless, these criticisms are still made at a very high level and under the big impression of the groundbreaking predecessor. What we have here is, in the end, a record that might still easily make it on my list of the ten best records of the year in 2004. Any symphonic power metal fan should know this high quality record, despite its obscurity.
Seraphim- Rising (2007) Reviewed by: Sebastian Kluth
Three years after Ai, Taiwanese symphonic power metal band Seraphim is back in strength with the well-titled Chinese language record Rising, which was also released with English lyrics to the international market one year later. A lot of things have changed between the third and the fourth (and up to now, last) records from the band. Guitarist Lucas Huang, drummer Simon Lin, bassist Jax Yeh and even singer Pay Lee left the band for numerous reasons. Band leader Kessier Hsu was responsible for guitar and bass duties on this release. The new singer Quinn Weng had joined the band back in 2004, and new drummer Van Shaw completed the trio in 2005. Bassist Mars Liu only joined the band shortly after the recordings in 2007, while second guitarist Thiago Trinsi from Brazil came to the band in 2010.
Despite all these changes, the fourth record is typically Seraphim, with all the trademarks that distinguished the first three records, and only a few minor differences. The clean male vocals and death growls are less present on this release, and the music focuses on the vocal duties of new singer Quinn Weng. She had quite a difficult task in replacing the unique and powerful voice of Pay Lee, but does a very solid job. Her vocals are very grounded, but nevertheless variable. They are less operatic and spiritual than those of her predecessor, but I think she appeals to a wider audience, as her vocals rock more and fit more neatly into the power metal genre. This being said, the new record has less symphonic elements and focuses on more power metal sounds. The songs have become faster and heavier than ever before, and the drumming in particular is a killer on this release. Just listen to an energizing song like “Spring Wind” and you will understand what I mean. The music makes me think of the Liechtenstein gothic metal outfit Elis or Germany’s Xandria at times.
The softer tracks are much less prominent on this album, but once they finally appear they are very strong. “No More” is a dreamy and transcending rock ballad with some commercial potential (and I mean this in the most positive way). The track has an amazing guitar solo, but it’s the calm parts that make me think of a symphonic new age epic. Let me add that Quinn Weng gives her best performance of the record on this track, truly equaling Peggy Lee. She sounds almost as heavenly as her predecessor did, but adds her very own touch upon this track that sends shivers down my spine. This song is definitely one of two highlights of this release, and also one of the strongest tracks in the band’s entire discography, as far as I’m concerned.
My personal highlight of the record is nevertheless an epic symphonic piece that goes back to the style of the previous records and takes it to a new level of greatness. The stunning title track “Rising” is easily among the best of Seraphim’s catalog. In almost ten minutes, the song never gets boring, and features very elaborate song writing with catchy parts and diversified changes, as well as folky passages and heavier instrumental parts with tight riffs. This track is a firework of diversity and an absolute must-hear anthem for fans of gothic, power, and symphonic metal alike.
In the end, this record is generally much heavier and obviously power metal-oriented than previous releases. Gone are most of the heavenly symphonic elements, but Rising is a lot faster and really rocks. Despite this new direction, old and new fans alike should be kept happy, and funnily enough, the two most outstanding songs are the ballad and the self-titled epic. The new line-up sounds fresh and promising, and I still hope for a new fifth release that might arrive in coming years. The band members are now living all round the world in Canada, Iceland, and Taiwan, but they are bound to meet again this year, and will hopefully work on new compositions. I will certainly keep in touch with Seraphim, and suggest that you do so as well, as well as (re)discover their back catalog while we wait for new things to come!