Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Changing Vocalist

Before you start reading this post, press play on the song embedded above. Let the sound wash over you and take you to a mystical place you've never been. The waves crash on either side and strange but enchanting beings fly all around. A new age dawns before your very eyes and takes over your soul.

The first thing I thought when hearing that song is how surprised I was that a band called Fairyland was so awesome. I mean, no one in their right mind will ever take this French band seriously. Poor guys. They make good music though and that's all that matters. So I thought I'd check out their previous work. Turns out Fairyland has 3 albums total, with Score to a New Beginning being their latest and greatest. When I found a song from the previous albums and pressed play, there was something pretty unexpected in the sound.

This band has changed vocalists every single album. It's such a weird concept and it changes the sound so much. Every album sounds like a different band, and I found myself only really enjoying Score to a New Beginning. They even switch from female to male vocals between their first and second albums. It's a shame because I'm a pretty big fan of what I heard initially. Just the fact that I can say I listen to a band called Fairyland is enough for me to add them to my library.

You hear all the time of bands switching up guitarists and drummers. Even that is more newsworthy than a new keyboardist or bassists, poor guys. An instrument can be made to fit a band's sound and the style can be changed to fit that of a musician that has left the band, but vocals can only change so much. This is of course added to the fact that vocals are usually the main focus of the song.

I'll compare this to another band that has a constantly changing lineup: Ensiferum. The only two albums where they've actually kept every member of the band is between From Afar and Unsung Heroes. Oddly enough, these albums have some of the biggest changes in sound between them, but that's besides the point. Between Iron and Victory Songs, the entire band changed except for guitarist Markus Toivonen. The only thing people seem to have a problem with though is the new guitarist/vocalist Petri Lindroos. The songs generally sound the same as the first two albums, it's definitely the same band, but the most noticeable change is the vocalist. Perhaps this is an unfair comparison because Jari Mäenpää had a big part in writing songs for the first two albums and is a very talented musician in his own right, but I think it still argues the whole idea of a vocalist changing in a band.

It's interesting how much one member can change the entire sound of a band and it leads to the question of how many member changes a band can go through and still be considered the same band. There are bands that have completely changed every single member since their inception yet still go by the same name and still play songs that they had no hand in creating. One such band is Stratovarius. Their longest-lasting member has been in the band since 1994. The band itself was formed in 1984 and released three albums before Timo Kotipelto joined. While the don't necessarily play any songs from those first albums, they still carry on a name that other people made for themselves. Should this be considered stealing? Well there's a pretty famous case between the former and current members of Gorgoroth that tried to argue that very point. Give it a read if you want a laugh. Those black metal guys are crazy.

Anyway, I think I've rambled enough. These are questions that may never get an answer, though they're still something to think about. Even though Fairyland has a very different sound album to album, it doesn't change the fact that they're a good band and should be listened to. After all, it gives a whole new feel to old songs hearing them live with a new vocalist. The albums released will always stay the way they are, nothing can change that, but the band will live on.

-Zombie Viking

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