Xiphea: A New Voice For Symphonic Metal

Xiphea are a Symphonic Metal band out of Germany. Formed in 2011, the band has released three CDs so far: Masquerade (2013), From The Uncharted Island (2014) and Once Upon A Time (2016).

c1bpos4wgaaec7

They play a melodic, yet heavy, style of Symphonic Metal with hints of Power Metal. The band refers to their brand of metal as Fairytale Metal. This is their main point of difference. Xiphea’s lyrics focus on tales of romance, fantasy, dwarfs, witches, princesses and retellings of known fairy tales.

masquerade

The band’s second point of difference are the delightful  vocals of Sabine Meusel. She possesses a strong, but delicate voice that would be a perfect fit for pop music. Yet that same voice works so well in the context of Xiphea’s Symphonic Metal music. Sabine has a voice that sounds like a mix of Liv Kristine, ex Leaves Eyes, and pop singer Ellie Goulding. Her voice is contrasted nicely by guitarist Neil Meusel’s excellent guttural vocals. His extreme vocal stylings are used tastefully, never overbearing and never overused.

cx9vbjduqaav59v

Musically Xiphea  combines the sounds of bands like Epica, Nightwish and Xandria to create their own unique brand of Symphonic Metal. The music contains a nice balanced mix of heavy guitars, keyboards and orchestrations. Xiphea are first and foremost a metal band, but melody is key. The band plays for the sake of the song. Guitar riffs abound, but not at the expense of the music.

c1vofzbxcaelhgu

As a fan of Symphonic Metal I am always on the hunt for new bands. I came across one of Xiphea’s music videos online last year. Before I even heard a note I was intrigued by the band’s description as Fairytale Metal. I am so glad that I took the time to watch that video. I have been a fan of Xiphea ever since. I really enjoy this band and I am greatly looking forward to hearing more great metal music from them in the future.

Troy T.

My Highlights Of 2016

As the year comes to a close various top ten and  best of  lists will be published. Many of these lists can be fun to read. This is not really a true top ten list, plus it contains eleven items.  It is an brief overview of some entertainment highlights that come to mind from 2016.

Unfortunately 2016 was a year full of far too much bad news, negativity, hate and division. At times during 2016 the world seemed like a very dark place. At the end of the year it’s good to reflect on some of the entertainment that brought some light into my life in 2016.

Phil Collins’ Reemergence

5767585lpw-5772320-article-phil-collinsconcertmusiqueeurope-jpg_3843522_660x281

Phil Collins’ slow and steady reemergence from retirement. Not one event, but a series of live appearances, interviews and the release of his autobiography Not Dead Yet. All of this is leading up to some large scale concerts in 2017. At 65 years of age Phil Collins may look a little rough around the edges. But he is still one of my favorite musical artists. The man’s music has brought a lot of light to my life over the years.

Xiphea – Once Upon A Time

1477507089_unnamed

Xiphea are a fantastic symphonic metal band out of Germany. They call their brand of music Fairytale Metal. With song titles like Beauty And The King, Masquerade, Cinderella and Power Of The Dwarfs one can understand the label. Do not let the song titles fool you, this is a serious and heavy band.  Once Upon A Time is Xiphea’s third release.  So far they have released one EP and two full length albums.  The future looks bright for this band.   I plan on writing more about them in a future blog.

The Genesis Show

ar-160839991

The Genesis Show are an absolutely amazing and talented Phil Collins era Genesis tribute band that, for now, focuses on Genesis live circa 1976-1977. Tribute bands can be hit or miss, either really good or downright silly. The Genesis Show are a serious band that are passionate about playing the music of Genesis. I had the great pleasure of seeing them live this year. As a huge Genesis fan since 1981 I was extremely impressed by The Genesis Show. The musicianship on display was incredible. I highly recommend seeing them live.

Kansas – The Prelude Implicit

636025909834290632

I count Kansas among my top 20 favorite bands. Their newest release, The Prelude Implicit, is a strong argument for classic bands continuing to record new music. I would definitely place The Prelude Implicit on my top ten favorite Kansas albums list. The band’s new singer Ronnie Platt has some incredibly big shoes to fill. He does so quite well. I look forward to more new music by this great band.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-movie-stills-30

A very, very good Star Wars film that falls short of being great by playing it too safe in the second half of the movie.  But I will say that the movie contains one of my absolute favorite scenes from any Star Wars movie. I just hope that the success of this film will allow for more ambitious Star Wars movies in the future.

Arrow: Season Five

arrow-season-4-oliver-queen-stephen-amell

A fantastic rebound from the disappointment of season four. It would seem that in the off season the creative team revisited the things that made the show great in the past. Half way through season five and  I would say that Arrow is back on track.  Stephen Amell, in the title role, continues to play this character with such conviction.

Metallica…Hardwired To Self-Destruct

maxresdefault

It’s been eight years since Death Magnetic, but overall it was worth the wait. The double disc release showcases a collection of fast and heavy songs by a rejuvenated band. Unfortunately all of the songs are not equal. I would say that if the band had trimmed the fat and lost two songs they would have had a killer single disc.

Captain America: Civil War

tumblr_o7sp6pflhl1vv5pr6o1_500

A movie that contained not only great action, but also great drama. Civil War and the prior Captain America movie The Winter Soldier have really brought superhero movies to a new level. There is a lot going on in this movie, but the performances of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. provide a solid foundation and help keep the movie grounded.

Doctor Strange

null

Doctor Strange is Marvel’s latest superhero movie.  It stars Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role.   Benedict Cumberbatch joins the ranks of actors  like Hugh Jackman, Christopher Reeve, Harrison Ford and Patrick Stewart. What do they have in common?  It seems that they were born to bring to life certain iconic characters. Wolverine, Superman, Indiana Jones, Professor Xavier and in Cumberbatch’s case Doctor Stephen Strange. A great movie with a fantastic performance by Cumberbatch.

Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice

batman-v-superman-wonder-woman-01-670-380

I know it had it critics, but I loved this movie. Henry Cavill is super as Superman. Ben Affleck really nails the true essence of Bruce Wayne/Batman. His portrayal of Bruce Wayne is my favorite of any actor to date. I love Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Gal Gadot’s fantastic performance as Wonder Woman may be my biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year. The only real downside for me was Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor.  His was a different take on the character that did not really work for me.

Epica – The Holographic Principal

epica___the_holographic_principle_facebook_headers_by_soulcrusher19-da8x04f

I feel that Epica, a symphonic metal band out of the Netherlands, are the best band in their genre. The Holographic Principal is their seventh studio album and it is phenomenal. Epica continues to grow and evolve with each new album. Their unique and dense mix of thrash metal, opera, progressive rock, classical music, death metal and soundtrack scores continues to delight this metal fan a great deal.

Troy T.

Genre Overload!!!

the-review-pile-yesterday

When it comes to heavy metal I miss the 80’s. Especially the early to mid 80’s when metal was just metal. Generally if it was heavy it was  just called heavy metal. In today’s  metal scene there are genres with sub genres for sub genres of genres that no one’s even sure what the original genre is supposed to sound like. Of course I am exaggerating, but here in 2016 there are just way too many metal genres and subgenres. If you do a little research the results will leave  you  with extreme genre overload.

I do understand the need for labels and genres in music. I am a huge fan of Thrash Metal, Symphonic Metal, Progressive Rock and Neo Prog, the latter being a subgenre of progressive rock. So overall I do not have an issue with genre labels.  But somewhere in the late 80’s and 90’s things begin to go awry with the  splintering of metal into far too many genres, leading us to where we are today.

To list all of the genres and subgenres of heavy metal that currently exist would leave one’s head spinning. I’ll list a few, in no particular order, and perhaps you’ll agree that things have gotten just a bit out of control.

Power Metal, Doom Metal, Sludge Metal, Pagan Metal, Glam Metal, Gothic Metal, Grindcore, Metalcore (A genre that some metal fans believe is not metal at all, I’m not sure why), Deathcore, Mathcore, Neoclassical Metal, Post Metal, Progressive Metal, Djent, Stoner Metal, Symphonic Metal, Thrash Metal, Speed Metal (In regards to the prior two, I was never sure what the difference was between the two), Alternative Metal, Funk Metal, Nu Metal (Which I guess is now Old Metal, just kidding someone might start a new genre), Groove Metal, Grunge (Was Grunge really a music genre or just a passing fad?), Industrial, Rap Metal, Rapcore, Avant-garde Metal, Extreme Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal,  Symphonic Black Metal, Folk Metal, Viking Metal, Shoegaze, Christian Metal (a genre some feel does not make sense, but I am Christian and I love metal, so listening to metal played by other Christians without the dark lyrics usually associated with metal is a no brainer for me), Post Punk, Crust (What the heck!?!?!?!), Blackened Death Metal, Melodeath, and I’ll end my list with perhaps the oddest genre title of this batch, Pirate Metal.

This list is far from complete, it is just scratching the surface of the ever growing list of metal genres and subgenres.  Can we please stop now?