INFOS : firstname.lastname@example.org
Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
Label : Sire/Warner Music
Review by Luisa Mercier
I have to admit I am not that much into this kind of American blues/folk tinged rock, so I approached this record being a little bit cold. Gladly I had to change my mind quite soon, since the first track. “Holding on to Good” where the soaring female vocals and keyboards instantly captured my attention. The song is sweet, epic and slowly builds up its mood with guitars and drums til the catchy chorus. The strings in the instrumental break are just emotional as well the keyboards. The following “Is Anybody Out There” is much more rockish and groovy, sung by a warm, soft male voice, while girls are to be found in background choirs. Once again the instrumental break captured me. These guys know how to create an emotional atmosphere, for sure. “Morning Comes” is the typical American acoustic ballad at the beginning which becomes more uptempo after a few seconds. It could make a perfect second single. Another slow tempo song is “If I Loved You” where female vocals are back behind the mic. Beautiful as the previous ones, it has a distinctive country influence. First single was the short “Bottom of The River”. The southern influence is very apparent and brings me back to “Gone with the Wind” mood. Lovely really. “Country House” is another delicate, romantic song with acoustic guitars, strings, keyboards and soft male vocals. Trumpets open “Surrounded” before a nice piano and vocalisings start a melody that reminded me of old Coldplay before bursting out into rock. “Dance in the Graveyards” is once again a folk tinged rock song lively and uptempo, while “Fire” has in the vocals a bit of the Southern melancholy mixed with anger. One of the highlights of the record according to me. Another ballad is “Forgive the Children We Once Were”, full of pathos and emotions. Piano and female voice for “Unlike Any Other”, another ballad, maybe more traditional than the previous ones. Closing song is “Hey Hey Hey”, which is quite fun and soulful. Perfect closure for an adorable album. If you are a fan of typical Southern rock this record is perfect for you, but it can appeal you even if you are part of a more mainstream audience.
Rating - 80/100
Interview by Luisa Mercier
I had the pleasure to review the debut of Delta Rae, talented band from Duke, North Carolina. Their sound draws from several genres, ranging from rock, to gospel and bluegrass giving birth to an experience that will take you over!
Hi from Italy Brittany! Welcome on Femme Metal Webzine. First of all, I truly love your voice and your record! I was not much into this kind of music, but you really conquered me!
Ciao! Yay for allowing yourself to be conquered! :) And thanks so much.
May you introduce yourself to our readers? How was the band born?
Sure! My name is Brittany Hölljes and I am one of four vocalists in Delta Rae. The band was a dream of my brothers’ (they are the two male voices in the band) who have been writing music together since the were 10 and 12 years old. By 2008, they were writing songs that they knew needed women’s voices. So they emailed Liz in Peru and called me, in Italy, (Firenze! I loved it!) and asked us what we were doing in the fall of 2009. By the next September we had all moved into a big fixer upper in the backwoods of Durham, NC. We found Mike and Grant in the local scene and asked them to join up. And thus Delta Rae was born!
Your main influences?
As a band, we’ve drawn inspiration from Fleetwood Mac, Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Billy Joel and Jeff Buckley and even Les Miserables and Jesus Christ Superstar. Our influences are as varied as our sound.
Have you got a formal music education?
The only member of our band who was formally educated in music is our bassist, Grant Emerson, who went to UNC-W. Mike grew up in a very musical household, his parents are both full-time musicians and music teachers. And Liz’s dad was a fantastic vocalist/musician/songwriter, she totally got his ear and voice. The three siblings grew up in a house of artistry and creativity, but neither of my parents are particularly musical. We all learned to sing by belting along to our parents’ awesome ’70s albums. Eric taught himself piano when he was 7, Ian picked up guitar in college. I think one of the reasons we work so well together is that our music isn’t about technicality as much as it’s about feeling, it comes from our guts.
Speaking of writing, how does a Delta Rae track come together? Your vocal harmonies are great!
My brothers, Ian and Eric, write all of Delta Rae’s songs and I don’t think I will ever get over how original, honest, and smart their writing is. It never gets old. They usually start songs on their own and once they have the bones of it, they’ll bring it to the rest of the band to flesh it out. The harmonies are the backbone of the band’s sound. They usually just fall right into place.
What are the inspirations you draw from to write lyrics? Sometimes I get a mysterious, like magical vibe!
Wow! That’s a big compliment. Thank you! I think Delta Rae is capturing something that truly is magical. Our songs can be warm and euphoric, but we also embrace their darkness and mystery. Our songs are stories, usually about our lives, our history, our families, and our ghosts. Their origins are earthy and we sing and play them viscerally and with abandon. For us, music and magic go hand in hand. Then again, I DID study paganism and astrology in college, so this kind of talk is my jam… you don’t even wanna get me started ;)
You are two brothers and one sister. How does the all-in-the-family vibe affect the work you guys do?
I think it has been a really helpful thing for this band. We love each other of course, but the really key thing is that we three siblings also LIKE each other! We fight sometimes, but I think it only serves to make us a stronger unit. We fight because we care. I personally wouldn’t be doing this without my brothers, they are my inspiration and my whetting stones, and I am always myself with them around. I’m really lucky.
I have watched a lot of your live clips on YouTube, your show are great! What can your audience expect?
Thank you! I’d say audiences should expect a swampy-stompy, sing your lungs out, punch in the face, tongue-kiss of a show! You’re hearing four-part harmony, banging on trash cans, melodic piano riffs, driving guitar and bowed, electric upright bass. It is A LOT of new sounds and to spice things up even more, we have four lead singers. So we keep the audience on their toes. At the same time, our main goal is to bring people in emotionally. We bare our souls on stage. Overall, it’s a roller coaster. I always feel electrified after shows, I hope we are doing the same for our listeners.
I can hear a lot of Southern influences, how your hometown, its history has influenced you?
Well we have kind of a unique story. The three siblings grew up around the south until we were about middle school age. Then we moved to northern California where we met Liz. Liz is a chameleon and could travel anywhere and fit in, but the Holljes kids always felt like we would be drawn back to our southern roots. So we planted the band in Durham, NC, where Ian and Eric were born, and where our mom spent her whole childhood and college years. Our sound definitely has southern flavor, we pull on elements of bluegrass, gospel, country, and blues. Going back to the question of magic in our music, I think we also live in a part of the country that has magic in its nature. Just being in a place that’s home to huge summer thunderstorms, gobs of fireflies and kudzu devouring whole forests, has an impact on our sound. Epic yet cozy. Warm but mysterious.
The “Bottom of the River” video. How does the song’s subject matter relate to the video?
Well, in truth it doesn’t, aside from the dark, swampy, stompy, southern vibe. The lyrics of the song tell a baptism/exorcism story of a woman trying to rid her son of a “demon” by drowning the evil spirit, but drowning her son in reality. When we were thinking of concepts for the video, a witch trial seemed like a good parallel story, as women used to be tortured and killed when accused of witchcraft and associating with the devil. Our video however, is infused with serious lady-power, and I, the witch, get the better of my accusers… that makes the video MUCH more fun!
I know you performed on Leno on 25th June, how did it feel?
I can’t say enough for the people who work on The Tonight Show and Jay Leno himself. They were all SO nice and they made us feel very at home. That being said we were all still sick with nerves and excitement! It was just so surreal and such an honor. I was relieved that we sang “Bottom of the River”, which is a song we have performed thousands of times. On the street, on boats, in subways, to no one, and to thousands, so it’s ingrained deeply in us. Even national TV can’t phase that ;)
I found the song ”Rain Down on Me” on YouTube. It is amazing! Do you plan to release it in the future, maybe together with some of your cover songs (I love “Rolling in the Deep”)?
So glad you like it! “Rain Down on Me” is one of our absolute FAVES! We are definitely putting it out someday, though I don’t know when yet. I don’t know if we will ever get a chance to record or release covers, we have so much original material that we’ve got to get out into the world first! But I love singing “Rolling in the Deep”. That song is tough! But the soul is palpable. If we do record any covers, you better believe we will put a Delta Rae spin on it and it’ll ooze soul!
Have you thought of hitting Europe somewhere in the near future? I would love to have “Carry the Fire” released here.
WE WOULD TOO! We are hopeful that there will be a European release but we are still focused on the States for now. It would be an absolute dream to travel through Europe, singing what I think is very authentic Americana music and I personally would LOVE to watch the emotionality of our music cross cultural and lingual divides.
That’s all, Brittany! Thank you for your time and all the best!
These questions were so thoughtful and fun to answer. Thank YOU!
Photos by Shervin Lainez & Smallz and Raskind
Label : Napalm Records
Review by Disgraced & Tony Cannella
This year 2011 marks also the return of Austrian symphonic metal lovers Visions of Atlantis with their new album “Delta”, after their beloved, previous opus “Trinity” which dates back to 2007. Two new important changes in the line-up must be immediately noted, since they had been those most responsible for the trademarks you could recognize on “Trinity”: ex-vocalist Melissa Ferlaak (renowned for her previous experience in Aesma Daeva, now in Echoterra) and ex-guitarist Wolfgang “Wops” Koch got married and moved to the United States, not without raising polemics among fans and ex-bandmembers. Being Melissa Ferlaak one of the best opera singers adopted by heavy metal (she owns real degrees in classical studies which are pretty clear in her vocal deiverance but nonetheless she doesn’t sound like a mere opera freak stolen from the theatre) many fans were suspicious about the possible replacement, while it should be noted that Koch contributed a lot to Visions of Atlantis slight change to a more symphonic edge, leaving apart their more power-ish sides. So, in 2009 the band recruited Joanna Nieniewska (ex-Illuminata and girlfriend of one of the guys) as new vocalist but unfortunately the search wasn’t over because after few months Nieniewska had to leave due to health problems. That lead the band to the cradle of the Mediterranean Sea and classic culture, where they found the Greek singer Maxi Nil, who had previously worked with Elysion and with Moonspell as a live session member (as well as with On Thorns I Lay for a still unreleased album). Then old guitarist Werner Fiedler, who had left in 2005, came on board again and the band saw a last change when Mario Lochert replaced Michael Koren on bass in 2010. Finally the band was ready to enter the studio! And the result is now here in our hands. First of all and first thing that I think would come into everyone’s mind when listening to “Delta” is that they somehow brought back some of their power metal infleunces they had mostly on their debut “Eternal Endless Infinity”. I also think that is the most important feature we find here, since it allows the band to keep their distance from the huge cauldron of symphonic and orchestral acts out there - be it clear that the symphonic elements are all still here but in my opinion there’s an overall power metal flavour, thanks also to the perfect, crystalline production which allows you to catch also some retro feeling in the melodies. And don’t worry: although some solutions they adopted might me compared with what Nightwish did on their “Century Child” album, we aren’t in danger of embarassing “similar” moments as it happened on their debut (the band itself admitted it was hugely inspired, so to say, by the Finnish band). The album alternates catchier and heavier tracks one after the other and I must say that generally speaking the songs seem to have more personality than those on “Trinity”: first single “New Dawn” (which they also shot a video for) starts with a fast and epic approach by Maxi who is then quickly joined by her male counterpart Mario for a very catchy chorus that anyway doesn’t let the song lose its heaviness. Second song “Memento” deserves a special mention since I think it’s one of the best ones of this record: epic, fast, symphonic, with changes in tempo and atmosphere…The melodic ouverture from 4:50 on will simply make you melt down thanks to some very inspired vocal lines by the Greek! No wonder this song is among those new ones they chose to play during the latest tour together with Vexillum and the immortal Rhapsody of Fire. Also male singer Mario Plank reserves some memorable moments for himself, such as in the evocative “Conquest of Others” where he also lets out some more extreme shouts. Even though he has never been - and probably is not - an oustanding singer, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good one, which actually is. Also his English pronunciation, which many had to complain about in the past, got better and better. Guitars pla of course an important role here, driving the melodies on songs like the hard opener “Black River Delta”, “New Dawn”, “Where Daylight Fails” or “Elegy of Existence” so those fond of guitar solos won’t lack their daily bread here, as ong as they don’t expect long, highly technical heavy metal solos of course. ;) Obviously such a record cannot miss its melodic ballad, which here takes place at number 8 with “Reflection”. Sadly I must say that “Reflection” fails in becoming the usually haunting, siren-like tune we might expect due to a too poor melody and a vocal interpretation by Maxi that falls rapidly into mediocrity. I had the pleasure to attend one of the first gigs with this line-up (minus Lochert on bass) at the 2009 Metalcamp in Tolmin, Slovenia and although the clear inexperience with the material live-wise Maxi did an oustanding job, granting new life to some songs like “Seven Seas” for example, showing she could easily handle both “normal” and classical-like vocals; so, be sure they made a good strike hiring her! Just, this song doesn’t go anywhere and leaves you quite indifferent, ending up as a filler. Final track, after the interlude “Sonar” is the epic “Gravitate towards Fatality”, which just features all the elements found before, good blended together and another, impressive demonstration of how good Mario’s and Maxi’s voices go together - a feature I have forgotten to say before. Only negative note is the very end of the song, which comes quite suddenly while I think such tracks need a more “fading” ending to let the listener dream along the epicness they express. I really hope Visions of Atlantis will continue on this road (perhaps regaining more and more power elements) and that they won’t be far from the scenes for a too long time now as I’m very willing to see what they’ll bring forth next. As for now, very good guys!
Rating - 73/100
It is hard to believe that it has been four years since the Austrian Symphonic Metal band Visions of Atlantis released their great “Trinity” album. Now, after some line-up changes, which have been well, documented the band return with their new singer in Greece’s Maxi Nil and their long awaited, eagerly anticipated 4th album “Delta”. Of course for fans of the band, it was sad to see Melissa Ferlaak depart the band after her awesome performance on “Trinity”, but on “Delta” Maxi Nil does a great job in making her transition seamless. “Delta” features 10-songs and 43-minutes worth of music and Visions of Atlantis’s Symphonic Metal Sound remains intact. The up-tempo, bouncy opening track “Black River Delta” starts things off and is a fine introduction for Maxi. Of course the clean vocals of Mario Plank are present as well as the two vocalist trade off, which is something that VoA has been known for. The next track “Memento” quickly became my favorite. It starts off slow, dark and moody before the tempo picks up and displays a groove running through the song that is just so damn infectious and inspiring. Also, Maxi turns in an outstanding vocal performance on this one. Her style is not as operatic as Melissa Ferlaak’s (of course comparisons are inevitable), but she can go there if needed to like on “Memento”. “New Dawn” is a fast paced track that features a great chorus that will be stuck in your head long after you’ve heard it for the first time. One of the heavier tracks is “Conquest of Others” which sees Mario handling the majority of the vocals on this one with Maxi lending support on the chorus. On the ballad “Reflection”, Maxi is given the chance to shine. Other highlights include, but are not limited to: “Twist of Fate”, “Elegy of Existence” and the closer “Gravitate towards Fatality”. I am not prepared to say I like “Delta” better than “Trinity” (my favorite VoA album) but it is certainly a worthy follow up and one that I would imagine that their fan base should be quite pleased with. After 4-albums and 3 female singers, here is hoping that Maxi Nil will stick and the band will continue to churn out great music for years to come. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have Visions of Atlantis back and with “Delta” they have made a triumphant return.
Rating - 90/100