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Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
Another TOP REVIEW in our webzine! Brazil’s Soulspellmetal opera, that features as guest vocalists Amanda Somerville, Daisa Munhoz [Vandroya] & Tim “Ripper” Owens, according to Tony “actually this may be THE best metal opera I have heard”. Tony has only high praises for this release, starting from “assembling some hugely talented musicians for “Hollow’s Gathering”” then to Heleno’s “incredibly detailed and complex story”. The music genre proposed “range from pounding classic metal style numbers, prog, ballads, power metal and symphonic metal”. Tony’s fear is that “Hollow’s Gathering” “disappears into oblivion” since its abused metal opera formula.
Interview by Roberta Ilaria Rossi
Many are her collaborations in the metal scene, such is her reputation in Europe. After having released an album for her new project, Trillium, the peppery Amanda Somerville is back to town. We had the pleasure to chat with the blonde American singer, who told us many things about her latest work. Here is what she has revealed to us!
Hi Amanda and welcome to Femme Metal.net. Recently, you’ve released the album “Alloy” for your last metal project, Trillium. In my honest opinion, it is a very good album. Would you like to share with us something more about this project, for those who haven’t listened to the album and/or to be updated about your last work(s)?
Thank you very much; I’m happy and honored that you like it! I tend to call the music on Trillium singer/songwriter metal” because most of my songs started out as piano/vocal demos from me and have a lot of emotion and heart in them, in addition to the hard edge and heavy guitar riffing that’s so typical of metal. Also, since I’ve traditionally been a singer/songwriter and have worked in the metal scene for so long, it was bound to happen. I think there are several subgenres of metal represented here, as well as rock. Elements of melodic, gothic, doom… I like diversity! Still and all, this is the single most straight-forward album I’ve ever released, stylistically speaking. Being that I’m as much a writer as I am a musician, the lyrics are of utmost importance to me as well as the music that goes along with them. My songs are always very emotional because I don’t believe in writing or performing anything you don’t totally believe in or can’t make people feel along with you. On the most basic level, they’re all about human struggles and relationships; something we can all relate to, but many of the songs have a very violent streak in them. All of my songs are personal-based, whether it was something I went through or a dream that I had or someone/something that inspired me. My songs are little windows into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville. :-)
Which is the concept behind the creation of this band?
It’s debatable whether to call this a project or a band. For me, it’s simply a new facet in my work as a musician. I wanted to keep it separate from what I release under my name for the simple fact that I’d like to keep it as “pure” as I can, genre-wise. For years now, I’ve been asked by fans who know me from my work in the metal scene when I would either form my own metal band or release a metal album. The idea had to grow on me because I simply wasn’t ready for it until just the past couple of years and I don’t do anything I don’t believe in 100% and can give 110%!
Was the Trillium project born randomly or was something already created in your mind since a long time ago?
I think I kind of summed up that answer in #2, however the true turning point in the desire to make my own metal album came when I was working on HDK with Sander Gommans in 2007. I loved writing and performing metal music (which only continued to grow after I went on tour with Epica in 2008 to fill in for Simone Simons when she was ill and then with Avantasia) and had planned to make my next solo album more uniformly in that direction. But after some careful consideration, I decided to make it a project to keep it totally separate from my solo music so that I can still put a jazz ballad or Jamaican drinking song on my next solo album and not have to explain or apologize to anyone. ;-) It’s still 100% me and those who know me as a solo artist are used to me being rather musically schizophrenic, but since I’m relatively new in the metal scene, I wanted to keep it more clear-cut. The ideas kept coming together and about a year and a half ago, I had everything lined up the way I wanted it to be and Trillium as it exists today was born.
Listening to the album, I’ve been surprised about the second “half” of this record and I’ve noticed that there’s a great cooperation with an artist I really admire: Jorn Lande! I know that there’s a good friendship and a professional relationship with him, moreover he also took part in the Avantasia project. How was the cooperation with him born? What did make you choose him for the track “Scream It”?
Since working with him on Avantasia and touring with him, he’s become a very good friend and won my utmost respect as a musician and vocalist. The man is an incredible talent and I adore his voice! He’s also a wonderful person and can play a role perfectly. I had him in mind when I wrote the antagonistic role in “Scream It” because his voice and character fit so well and I was fortunate enough to have him gladly take part. He did an incredible job and it was exactly what I had in mind!
How did you choose your music partners? I know that there’s a strong feeling between you and Sasha Paeth (since early days with “Virgo”) since so many years now…
I’ve been working with Sascha so long now and we know each other so well, both professionally and personally, that our work flow is always very smooth. Sascha’s the “Big Boss” and so we all (everyone involved with the Gate Studio) owe everything to him. He’s absolutely brilliant and one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever known and I love, appreciate and respect him dearly. Miro and I have a similar taste musically and being that we’re both keyboardists, he catches on very easily to whatever I deliver to him demo-wise. I can give him a very rudimentary piano-vocal demo and it seems like he reads my mind in terms of what I’m imagining arrangement-wise. Robert Hunecke and Olaf Reitmeier I met in 2001 and we’ve done lots of things together, both in the studio and playing live. Those guys can play anything!! Simon Oberender came into our team around 2004, I believe, and he was an amazing asset to our team. Mat Sinner and I got in touch through Kiske-Somerville and we’ve also toured together with an outfit called “Rock Meets Classic”. He’s a powerhouse, a good guy and a big talent and has come to be another close friend of mine in the scene. Sander Gommans and I have worked together for nearly 9 years and we complement each other quite well as songwriters, even though we’re so completely different in the way we approach songwriting. I guess opposites attract and this particular constellation works out beautifully in our cooperation with one another! Sascha and Sander add a totally new aspect to my songs very much of the time for the simple fact that they’re guitar players and take a different approach to song structure and instrumentation than I typically do. It’s a great balance!
I’ve noticed that, inside your crew, there’s also Sander Gommans, ex After Forever former guitar player. How are the working relationship with him that, however, has been a good member for a band that made history in the Dutch metal music?
Yep, he’s pretty great. I call him my Riff King and anyone who knows After Forever, HDK or Kiske-Somerville can hear what an incredibly talented songwriter/musician he is. But I rambled on about that in the previous answer!
Is there a song taken from “Alloy” to which you feel more connected to? If so, why?
I’m really bad with “favorite” questions because my songs are like my children and it just doesn’t seem fair to call one out over the others. That being said, it’s also difficult for me because each is special in its unique way and I’m constantly changing my moods. So one day, I’ll be like, “Man, “Coward” is seriously such a great song!! I think that might be my favorite yet,” because it’s so decadent and the line, “Justice comes to dance upon the graves of cowards” so aptly sums up my belief in karma. Then the next day, it’ll be “Justifiable Casualty” because it’s so emotional and makes me cry every time I hear it, especially the line, “She said there’s no one who can declare a war on warfare.” I don’t know why - it gets me every time!!! Then another day it’ll be “Scream It” because Jorn really nailed the metal “Romeo & Juliet” tragic love story vibe I was going for and it turned out so perfectly. Then the next day, it’ll be “Machine Gun” for its powerful imagery and empowering anger it encompasses Then the next day… do you see a pattern here? ;-) Anyway, I love and treasure each song in a different way for a different reason because each one also has its own unique story and personal connection for me.
How the recordings have been so far? How long did they last? How long it took to write the lyrics and music?
Some songs I wrote already a couple of years ago, some I started working on just before we started on the production. All in all we were demo-ing, recording, mixing & mastering from March until August 2011.
On a technical level, “Alloy” is an album based on a deliberately obscure and chilly production, ingredient that combined with the songwriting process could already predict a masterpiece itself, sounding pop/rock, which also shows a great elegance. If you were to describe the album just with three words, what adjectives would you use?
Emotional. Loaded. Dark.
You will start a tour with Trillium in the next months and you will visit so many cities in Europe next to another Dutch band, which was born in these last years: Delain. How did the choice to support this band for the very first Trillium tour happen?
Sander and I have been in touch with them for a while regarding various aspects. I think they’re a good fit to Trillium and it’s something new, so I’m really looking forward to the collaboration.
What are the expectations for this tour?
I’m not a person who believes in having expectations. I like having a blank slate and filling in the spaces as I go along. In my opinion, expectations can only get you into trouble. If you let yourself simply enjoy the experience as it comes along, it’s much more fulfilling and you’ll never be disappointed. :-) I’m just looking forward to the tour and am grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I love to do and share the experience with some great people. I hope for the best and that’s all.
What do you expect from this band?
Ah, yes. See my previous answer on the subject of expectations. :-)
Besides being an excellent mezzo-soprano and composer, you’re also a vocal coach. You’ve been the teacher of many singers (like, for example, Simone Simons from Epica), what have you learned from your pupils? What is it left of each of them inside you?
First of all, thank you very much for your kind words. I must correct the statement, however, that I’m a mezzo-soprano. Though my range is actually all the way from tenor to soprano, I feel most at home as an alto. :-) I’m not quite sure where this whole”mezzosoprano” description came from that someone placed on my Wikipedia page but I can assure you that’s not the case. And that being said, I’m a student of life. Each person I’ve worked with, each project I’ve been involved with has presented me with new challenges to change and grow, both as a person and as a musician. I think it’s important to always find new stimuli to keep you on your toes and strive to always be better. In the same turn, I also learn about how I would not like to be and things I definitely don’t want to do. It works both ways!
You’ve started singing from the early age. How your passion for music was born? How did it happen?
I grew up in a very musical family where music was a very basic and essential part of life. According to my mother, I was singing before I was talking. It was always a “learning-bydoing” process and I was fortunate to also have very good music mentors in both my family and at my elementary school, so I learned to read music and play piano at a rather young age. There was no sudden moment or conscious decision in my wanting to become a musician; that’s all I ever wanted to be and do. All throughout my life, I was giving concerts, performing in talent shows and competitions, even DJ-ing, hosting karaoke & singing in cover bands and jazz combos to earn money when I was in university. It’s just always been a part of my life!
Which are the artists or bands who have most influenced your artistic growth, your music and your Arts education?
I never did study music formally, nor was I classically-trained in singing. My grandmother taught me how to read music and gave me the basic foundation that I still use for composing today. As far as turning points go, the big milestones were: starting to work with Sascha and the Gate Studio team and releasing my first solo album in 2000; then writing “Aina” in 2002-2003; doing more and more work for and with metal bands; writing thrash metal in HDK with Sander Gommans; getting involved in Avantasia; releasing “Windows” and now working on Trillium. I’d say those are the big ones!
We could say that you have a great long path behind. You’ve worked with artists like Kamelot, Michael Kiske, Epica, Avantasia and so on. What these people have given to you on an artistic level and/or a personal level?
Every new album, each new project or band or artist I work with or write and record is a further step in my growth process as a musician and as a person. So each one has changed my life because it left a lasting influence on me that’s led me to who I am today.
How do you feel, at this point, in your career? Are you satisfied about the work done until now? Do you have some other expectations or some other project you would like to do in your artistic career?
I’m very satisfied. I get to do what I love to do, travel all over the world, meet and work with some wonderful and amazingly talented people and I can pay my bills from that. I don’t think anyone could ask for anything more fulfilling on a professional nor on a personal level. I would love nothing more than to just keep the ball rolling!
As I’ve said before, you are best known for having worked with so many bands, in particular one of these bands reflects your fame: Epica. How do you feel like working with this famous Dutch band?
I’ve been working with them since before they were even called Epica (back then, they were Sahara Dust and had Helena Michaelsen as their singer!). They’ve joked that I’m the not-so-secret 7th member of the band and it’s been great being involved.
In 2008, you’ve had to replace Simone Simons, who was facing a serious illness which has forced her to retire herself from the music scene for a while. How did you feel like replacing one of your most famous pupil? I remember that, in the same year, you both performed together in Italy (for the festival called Rock In Field) in a beautiful duet. What could you tell us about it?
It was certainly a logical choice for them to ask me to fill in for her since I’d co-written all of their songs, coached Simone, produced the vocals and sung on every song. For me to agree to it was because I didn’t want my friends to have to miss out on a huge opportunity because the tour was going to be a very important one for them. It wasn’t easy, however, because I had no idea what to expect from the fans, whether I’d get tomatoes thrown at me or what because it’s always a tricky thing to replace a lead singer and not everyone is interested in the details or background story. However, it all worked out great and the fans were very gracious. Our duet in Italy was simply natural since we were both playing at the same festival; Epica and Avantasia. We had a good time!
Having mentioned one of the most famous female fronted metal bands of Europe, what is your thought about bands with female singers? Are you in favour or against the bands that use a girl for their own music? Which is your thought in general? Haha!! Is this supposed to be a “new” concept, having a woman fronting a musical event? Being a “girl” myself, why on earth would I be opposed to it? :-) I think the term “femalefronted” is a rather laughable one, to be honest. You never hear the term “female-fronted pop” or “female-fronted jazz”, or “female-fronted R&B”, right? So what’s the big deal about it in metal? I think some guys need to get over themselves a little because chicks rock just as much as - and sometimes, quite frankly, even more than - dudes do. I loved the song and thought the musical portrayal was beautiful. I’m a bit of an actress and a lot of a romantic, so it was fun and fulfilling. I think Serenity is a very talented band and wish them tons of success. It was scary but extremely exciting. That was my first real, big project I did in the metal scene and I had no idea how I was going to do it, I just thought, “I’m going to accomplish this, come what may!”. And I did. I didn’t do everything by myself, just the concept, story and lyrics and I co-wrote a minimal amount of the music. That was my initiation into the Gate Studio team and I proved myself and was soon a steady member. I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads. If I have an idea that’s just not moving further, I set it aside and wait for it to “speak” with me again. Some songs have taken months or even years to finish for that reason; they just need their time. And sometimes, a deadline can be a miraculous motivator. ;-) As far as songwriting goes, I don’t really have a “normal process”. Sometimes a song will begin as a chorus or a verse, or just a melody, or some chords. Sometimes it’s just lyrics and the body of the musical composition comes later. And sometimes a song will come to me from start to finish in its entirety; chords, vocal lines, lyrics and all! So every time, it’s different. Being that I’m as much a writer as I am a musician, the lyrics are of utmost importance to me as well as the music that goes along with them. My songs are always very emotional because I don’t believe in writing or performing anything you don’t totally believe in or can’t make people feel along with you. On the most basic level, they’re all about human struggles and relationships; something we can all relate to, but many of the songs have a very violent streak in them. All of my songs are personal-based, whether it was something I went through or a dream that I had or someone/something that inspired me. My songs are little windows into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville. :-) My albums, my songs are like children to me. It’s a huge labor of love, filled with soaring highs and sometimes horrible depths. Music is my highest form of emotional and personal expression. It’s very fulfilling to see everything come together and wind up being a work of art and rather a snapshot of myself at a particular stage in my life. Nope, I’m going to keep on truckin’ and keep the ball rolling! Not to sound greedy, but I want more, more, more! Thanks so much for your time and interest! I really hope I can see some of you while I’m out on the road - it would make me super happy!! xx Amanda Links
Haha!! Is this supposed to be a “new” concept, having a woman fronting a musical event? Being a “girl” myself, why on earth would I be opposed to it? :-) I think the term “femalefronted” is a rather laughable one, to be honest. You never hear the term “female-fronted pop” or “female-fronted jazz”, or “female-fronted R&B”, right? So what’s the big deal about it in metal? I think some guys need to get over themselves a little because chicks rock just as much as - and sometimes, quite frankly, even more than - dudes do.Talking about collaborations and cooperations, in 2010 you’ve released an album with another famous partner: Michael Kiske and last year, you’ve also took part in the new Serenity album, called ”Death & Legacy”, where you’ve played the role of the Queen in the amazing song “Changing Fate”. How was for you interpreting musically speaking a so important historical role? Which were your impressions when this Austrian band asked you to cooperate?
I loved the song and thought the musical portrayal was beautiful. I’m a bit of an actress and a lot of a romantic, so it was fun and fulfilling. I think Serenity is a very talented band and wish them tons of success.As I’ve quoted before, you are also a great composer. In 2003, you’ve been the backbone of the band Aina, for the album “Days of Rising Doom”, in which you’ve done most of the work: you wrote the lyrics and the music and you’ve also taken part as a singer. What do you remember about this experience? Was it hard to do everything by yourself?
It was scary but extremely exciting. That was my first real, big project I did in the metal scene and I had no idea how I was going to do it, I just thought, “I’m going to accomplish this, come what may!”. And I did. I didn’t do everything by myself, just the concept, story and lyrics and I co-wrote a minimal amount of the music. That was my initiation into the Gate Studio team and I proved myself and was soon a steady member.How does a work, created by Amanda Somerville? Where does the inspiration for the music and lyrics come from?
I’ve never really been able to force a song. I don’t believe in doing anything contrived, especially when it comes to songwriting. I think it’s a blasphemy to one’s art. Music is my emotional outlet and I let it take me wherever it leads. If I have an idea that’s just not moving further, I set it aside and wait for it to “speak” with me again. Some songs have taken months or even years to finish for that reason; they just need their time. And sometimes, a deadline can be a miraculous motivator. ;-) As far as songwriting goes, I don’t really have a “normal process”. Sometimes a song will begin as a chorus or a verse, or just a melody, or some chords. Sometimes it’s just lyrics and the body of the musical composition comes later. And sometimes a song will come to me from start to finish in its entirety; chords, vocal lines, lyrics and all! So every time, it’s different. Being that I’m as much a writer as I am a musician, the lyrics are of utmost importance to me as well as the music that goes along with them. My songs are always very emotional because I don’t believe in writing or performing anything you don’t totally believe in or can’t make people feel along with you. On the most basic level, they’re all about human struggles and relationships; something we can all relate to, but many of the songs have a very violent streak in them. All of my songs are personal-based, whether it was something I went through or a dream that I had or someone/something that inspired me. My songs are little windows into the innermost workings of Amanda Somerville. :-)Which is the most beautiful part in creating an album, entirely written by you?
My albums, my songs are like children to me. It’s a huge labor of love, filled with soaring highs and sometimes horrible depths. Music is my highest form of emotional and personal expression. It’s very fulfilling to see everything come together and wind up being a work of art and rather a snapshot of myself at a particular stage in my life.Do you have already something new in your mind after the tour that will see you around Europe with Trillium or are you going to take a little rest and work, later on, on new projects?
Nope, I’m going to keep on truckin’ and keep the ball rolling! Not to sound greedy, but I want more, more, more!Thanks so much for the great chat, Amanda. I really hope to see you on tour with Trillium very soon. Is there something you would like to tell to your fans and to Femme Metal users?
Thanks so much for your time and interest! I really hope I can see some of you while I’m out on the road - it would make me super happy!! xx Amanda
Interview by Eetu “Ene” Niskanen
We have reached singer and vocal coach Amanda Somerville for discover the latest news about Epica, her new solo album “Windows” and more project too. Enjoy!
Hello Amanda thank you for accepting our interview!
Well, thank you so much for having me!
So for the beginning, as we’ve been told, you are working on a new project with Michael Kiske and Mat Sinner, how is it going and what can we expect of it?
The songs for the album are now complete (I’m contributing 3 songs myself to the album that I wrote together with Sander Gommans) and Matt and his partner Magnus Karlsson are now finishing up the recordings. I was in Stuttgart and recorded my vocals about a week ago and am very excited about the end result. Everything went very well and I was looking forward to it because this was my first time working with Mat & Co. I very much like the songs that are on the album and I’m also honored to be working with Michael Kiske again, since I’ve already been on albums with him before with Aina and Avantasia. You can expect songs that are more rock with a metal edge and I think it’s going to be great!
This year you released your new solo album, the brilliant “Windows”, how much work did it take to get it finally officially released?
Thank you for the compliment. :-) I can’t begin to tell you the emotional, physical, mental and financial efforts that went into getting “Windows” finally released. The album was several years in the making (5+!) and then it was a self-release, so a lot of work went into everything from the cover & booklet design to pressing the CDs to doing promo. And I’m not done!
“Windows” had huge musical variety, how about your next solo album, will it follow the same kind of mixture or maybe something else?
Since my own taste is rather eclectic, my songwriting seems to follow that pattern, as well. I’m sure variety will always be a factor in my albums, but I’m constantly growing, gaining influences, changing. So far I have several songs already written for a new album and they’re a bit darker yet than “Windows” .
Also this year you worked on a project called HDK with Sander Gommans (ex-After Forever), how was the experience working as a vocalist on a lot heavier material than work on your solo material?
It was great! I love a good challenge and this was without a doubt the heaviest thing I’ve done in my career up until now. I was also able to try things out and sing in ways I normally don’t because the material was so incredibly… thrashy! ;-) But I totally got into it and feel like it’s my baby, too. I’m quite proud of the work Sander and I did together and since then we’ve been working together pretty regularly. So it was all around a win-win situation!
Another thing you did in 2009 was Epica’s new album “Design Your Universe”, you worked as a vocal coach for Simone, sang the backing vocals and in the choir, how was it working with Epica again?
I also made a guest appearance and sang a duet originally on “Unleashed”, for which I wrote most of the lyrics, as well. That version is apparently a bonus track for “Design Your Universe”. It’s always been fun working with the Epicans and we came up with more good stuff this time, too, in my opinion!
You are working on new songs with Sander Gommans, how is it that turning out?
Oh, it’s always a lot of fun working with Sander. We’re a pretty good creative match, so the work flow is always great and the end results are solid. We’ve got more work in progress for a few different projects, so we’ll see!
Years ago you were part of project “Aina”, you wrote lyrics and the concept and worked as vocalist, can we expect any more music as follow up for the brilliant “Days of Rising Doom”?
Goodness, that’s a wholly different can of worms and, even though I’ve written a sequel for it, it doesn’t look like that’ll be happening any time soon. Who knows for the future, though…?
You have worked with so many bands and projects, have you ever thought of fronting a band of your own? With this I don’t mean solo work, as an equal band member.
I have my respect for bands but I really don’t think it’s my thing. I’m not one to say “never,” however it’s not something that I can see myself doing right now. I’m much more of a solo musician when it comes to my own music and always have been!
Last year you were touring with both Epica and Avantasia, how was the experience?
Fantastic! I’m a gypsy at heart and performing is my favorite thing to do, so I was completely in my element. I think you could tell from my video blogs, couldn’t you? ;-)
What kind of music do you listen yourself and how often?
Quite varied, actually, and I listen to music almost all the time. Usually it’s something that relaxes me, helps me be sad when I need to be sad or gets me in a good mood
Who are your biggest influences?
My family and the musicians I’ve worked with the past several years (the Gate Studio team).
With all these projects and collaborations what can we expect from you next year?
More live shows, more guest appearances with various bands/projects on albums, new songs, new crazy videos - the works!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Doing the same thing, but more of it, on a higher level and probably with 2 or 3 kids to take care of on top of all that. Not sure which continent or country I’ll be in, however!
Thank you for the interview and take care!
Best wishes to you!
Label : Lion Music
Review by Tony Cannella
On their 2009 debut album, Denmark’s Infinity Overture released a solid debut album that set the template for their melodic, symphonic metal style. Now the band has returned with a cool follow up opus titled, “The Infinite Overture Pt. I”. The band has made some key line-up changes and musically has headed into more of a prog-metal direction with an extra emphasis being placed upon the guitar elements that Infinity Overture present. The biggest line-up change comes with the addition of new female vocalist Kimmie Tenna Nielsen. Her voice is perfect for the music that is being played and is a solid addition to Infinity Overture. The 9-song 47-minute disc also features numerous guest appearances, the most prominent being Amanda Somerville who contributes vocals on several different songs and Rhapsody of Fire front man Fabio Lione. The guitar harmonies of the opening track “The Hunger” gets things off to a great start and sets the bar very high. Fabio Lione performs on this track along with female vocalist Kimmie Tenna Nielsen and the duo has great chemistry together. Grunt vocals appear at various points throughout “The Infinite Overture pt. I” and are very well done and don’t overwhelm anything, they are placed perfectly. The album builds up plenty of momentum as it progresses and my three favorite songs turned out to be the last three, “Smoke and Mirrors”, the 7-minute “The Infinite Overture Part I” and the hauntingly beautiful closing ballad “Darkness of Mind”. In addition to those three, there are plenty of other standout performances to be found here, for instance the euphorically melodic “The Stand” featuring a stunning vocal performance courtesy of Kimmie Nielsen. “Angels” starts off as a ballad but quickly evolves into a beautiful mid-tempo number. “Evernight” is one of the heavier, more guitar-driven tracks here and is a perfect showcase for the diversity of the band. “The Infinite Overture Pt. I” is a different kind of animal than their debut album, but no less brilliant. The line-up changes and guest appearances have really helped to shape this album. Fans of the first album and melodic metal in general should really come to appreciate what Infinity Overture has to offer.
Rating - 89/100
Review by Tony Cannella
From France comes the female fronted Death Metal outfit Crowmorph. On their debut EP, “Chroma” the band delivers a 28-minute exercise in pure, unadulterated and ferocious Death Metal mayhem. The opening track “Overdose” lulls you into a false sense of security with a soft, quiet start before the mayhem begins. Lead vocalist Amanda provides her guttural screams from hell throughout the five songs here but is still able to switch to a clean style on occasion. Make no mistake about it, Crowmorph are all about aggression and that is apparent on the following songs: “Clash”, “Larmorphose”, “Chroma” and the final number “Particules”, which at almost 9-minutes is the longest song. Obviously “Chroma” is not an album for everyone but fans of ferocious, Death infused metal should really come to appreciate Crowmorph. “Chroma” is about as basic and straight-forward as it gets. From the very outset, Crowmorph grabs for the throat and doesn’t let go until the final note is played.
Rating - 70/100
Label: Napalm Records
Review By Tony Cannella
Swiss symphonic metal band Lunatica have already released three very good albums. Their last one “The Edge of Infinity” (released in 2006) was arguably their best recorded work to date and their future looked very bright indeed. Now, 3-years later the band return with a new album (“New Shores”), a new label (Napalm Records) but the same desire to bring their brand of classy metal to the masses. The band is fronted by Andrea Dätwyler. She is joined by Marc Torretti (guitars), Sandro D’Incau (guitars), Emilio Barrantes (bass), Alex Seiberl (keys)and Ronnie Wolf (drums). With their previous three releases the band has shown an ability to progress from album to album and it is the listener who benefits from this. The lead off track “New Shores” is a testament to the growing maturity of the band. It is a strong way to start things and from there it only gets better. The next track “Two Dreamers” is among my favorites and would be a great choice as a single if the band opted to put one out. The chorus so so infectious and catchy and the vocals of Andrea Dätwyler are stronger than ever. The band has really risen to a whole new level. “How Did It Come to This?” is a moody, haunting ballad that is another song that really stands out with it’s haunting melody and fantastic vocal work once again by Andrea. “The Incredibles” with it’s socially conscience lyrics and “My Hardest Walk” keep things movie along smoothly and continues with the high quality material. “My Hardest Walk” in particular is one of the heavier tracks offered up here and it has a truly monstrous guitar riff in the beginning and it also features some cool tempo changes giving it a progressive feel, this is another absolute highlight. The next track really stands out, mainly because it features a duet with Andrea and Asia frontman John Payne. The two styles come together very well to create a memorable ballad with a big choir on the chorus. “The Chosen Ones” (another heavy one with a huge guitar riff) and “Heart of a Lion” are next and two more excellent tracks. “Into The Dissonance” is next and was written by legendary metal producer Sascha Paeth - who also incidentally mixed and mastered this CD. The final two tracks “Winds of Heaven” and “The Day the Falcon Dies” wrap things up nicely. The majority of the music was written by Alex Seiberl and most of the lyrics were written by Andrea and she obviously put a lot of thought into her words because the lyrics are really quite good actually. Lunatica continues to progress and mature from album to album and that trend continues on “New Shores”. It features some solid song writing and musicianship and is just an all around entertaining listen. This album should please their old fans, whilst gaining the band new ones. Quite simply on this - their fourth album - Lunatica have released their best work yet.
Rating - 80/100
It is hard to believe that the long running Dutch band Epica released their debut opus “The Phantom Agony” only 6 years ago. Since then they have really progressed and evolved in a big way. You can hear the band grow in leaps-and-bounds from album to album, with each release being more ambitious than the last. With their newest outing “Design Your Universe” Epica have really - and I mean really - outdone themselves. In the world of symphonic, epic, power metal, this is about as good as it gets. As is the case with most Epica releases, there is plenty of music to be found on “Design Your Universe” - 13-songs and over 74-minutes to be exact. The CD starts off with the very cinematic intro “Samadhi” before going into the riff heavy opening track “Resign to Surrender (A New Age Dawns Part IV)”. The duo of Mark Jansen (harsh male vocals) and Simone Simons sound as good as they ever have - with Simone able to go from operatic to a lower register, she is really becoming one of the best singers in all of metal. This song also features a cool part with a choir. It is really a solid opening track that really sets things off on the right foot. “Unleashed” continues things in a heavy fashion. The riffs are heavy but this is a solid, melodic, mid-tempo tune that sees Simone taking on the vocals here. After two more solid tracks “Martyr of the Free Word” (a great melodic track) and “Our Destiny”, it is time for the the first truly epic number on the CD. “Kingdom of Heaven” clocks in at over 13-minutes long and it is a a definite highlight for me. Over the years the band has perfected the long, dramatic number and this might be their best . Other highlights include: “Burn to a Cinder”, “Tides of Time”, the moving ballad “White Waters” (which features a duet with Simone and Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica) and the fantastic 9-minute title track “Design Your Universe”. The CD was produced once again by longtime collaborator Sascha Paeth - I guess at this point it would be odd if the band worked with anyone else. One thing you have to admire about Epica is that they rarely repeat themselves. Each CD has it’s own feeling and vibe and they are not afraid to take on new horizons. Deciding which album is the best from any artist is a matter of opinion and a subjective thing, but right now, as of this moment I think this is the best work this band has done to date. “Design Your Universe” is definitely a release worth getting excited over. Quite possibly the best release of 2009.
Rating - 100/100
Review by Tony Cannella
Amanda Somerville is perhaps best known for her work with Epica, Avantasia, Aina and others. She even filled in for an ailing Simone Simons on Epica’s last U.S. tour (and did quite well, in my opinion). She has just issued her new solo album titled “Windows”. This is actually her second solo release, her first “In The Beginning There Was…” was released way back in 2000. This CD was actually recorded between 2003-2008 and sees Amanda teaming up super producer Sascha Paeth (best known for his work with Kamelot) and Michael “Miro” Rodenberg. Don’t expect anything along the lines of Epica, Kamelot, Avantasia and other such bands. “Windows” features 12-songs and 51-minutes worth of AOR flavored songs with a definite hard rock edge. The CD was largely written by Amanda Somerville with collaborations on certain songs by Sascha Paeth and Michael Rodenberg. The CD kicks off on a definite high with the great opener “Mayday”. This is an uptempo number with a great chorus and the fantastically huge vocals provided by Amanda. A solid opener that is among the very best that this CD has to offer. “Point of Safe Return” is next and is another highlight. It is a slower tempo than the previous song, but it has no less heart and passion. A cool song that would make a great single (in my humble opinion). “Moth” is keeps things moving along smoothly and keeps the quality of the songs high. Another song that would make a great single, thanks to it’s infectious chorus. “My Song for You” is another favorite. Other highlights include: “Out”, “Inner Whore”, “Get Me” and “Carnival”. The CD is concluded with three ballads: “Sometimes”, “All That I Am” and “Windows” are a perfect way to end things. The songs presented on this CD are quite diversified and the lyrics written by Amanda Somerville on“Windows” are thoughtful and introspective.They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. Well, with her new CD “Windows” provides a look into the soul of a talented singer and song writer. I can’t remember when I have been this excited about a non-metal release. It gets better and better with each listen and should be judged on it’s own merits. “Windows” is definitely a CD of substance and quite worthwhile.
Rating - 85/100