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Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
Another surprising band is coming from The Netherlands, according to our reviewer Tony. Beyond Violet is a melodic metal/rock band and includes members from all over the Europe. Although this demo is really short, sadly only 3 songs “but they speak volumes about what this band is capable of”, says Tony. In the meantime that we wait the release of the upcoming EP, I sincerely recommend to give a listen to this demo, do you want to know more about? Just head over to /(via Beyond Violet – Demo (2012) « Femme Metal Webzine)
Interview by Miriam C.
And today with us we have Elizabeth Blackwell introducing us the witch trio Castle. Don’t what is it? Just continue to read the interview and you’ll know more about their new album “Blacklands”!
Hi Elizabeth first of all, thanks for replying at this interview. Would you mind presenting the band with some biography?
The band started with Mat on his own. I know he worked on the songs for the first album for a few years and tried to put a band together to play live without success. When I met Mat about three years ago and heard some of his demos I was knocked out! He may have even set the project aside at that point but at my urging we started to work on putting vocal melodies to what was mainly instrumental music. Shortly after Mat contacted an old friend from Toronto and we recorded our first record never having played live.
What’s the genesis of your second album “Blacklands”? For what I know it was composed in neither six months, right?
The second album was written in period of four months. Mat spent his days working on the demos and pre-production for recording. As he wrote I began to work on vocal melodies and collaborate with him on the lyrics. We were very deliberate on the time table of the albums creation. We wanted it to be alive and have a raw feeling to it, which really captured the essence of the music.
The album title is “Blacklands”, quoting the title in your opinion what are (or where are) the black lands and specifically what you wanted to express with such title?
The Blacklands are a place of void of all spiritual movement and a place that exists on the in between. We felt the music was, as a whole, a description of the space and the emotions felt when entering this place. All the songs are used to paint a vivid picture of this barren existence.
Instead talking of the artwork, we have this queen and the baby near her sitting on a sort of throne but it’s all really confused like was a nebula near the explosion (ok, now I’m letting go too much my imagination).. doing a step back, can do you describe the cover? Also who’s the author? And how, in some ways, is related to the lyrics inside?
The cover art was done by Russian Artist Denis Forkus. We contacted him to create a piece for us and we were fortunate to get him interested in the project. He drew inspiration from listening to our music and reading our lyrics. The picture is actually a sacrificial offering on the witches’ Sabat and the things she uses to draw power. He was inspired from his own research and more specifically Goya’s black paintings.
Since I haven’t the chance to interview you during the “In Witch Order” promo, can you tell us more about its genesis? It took, for what I know, like 5 years, right?
Mat had worked on and off for a period of over four years. The sound developed over time and he had no deliberate intentions while writing. It wasn’t until we met that he decided to move forward with a professional recording.
Talking about the “In Witch Order” art, we have this simply this lawn where some sheep are staying there and on their back there are some rocks lying in distance and on the right side a castle wall. I would add that’s pretty genial, sounds anachronistic but genial. Again what was the target? What you wanted to express?
From what Mat told me, he had that photo from the very beginning of his song writing for the first record and in a way that photo captured the spell of the record.
Maybe I’m doing a difficult questions since for the artists all their songs are like their babies, but you, as the singer and the bassist, where do you feel that you have improved in this second album compared to “In Witch Order”, your first album ?
The feeling I get when listening to this album is energetic, I feel like it takes me to an amazing place. It was not written with a theme but since it was created during a short time there is a underlying feeling that runs through the albums sound. I would say that my singing style is definitely more realized and confident in this album and it complements the music and adversely the music compliments my voice.
Doing some steps back, how you get in contact with Van Records? Your label seems quite interested to promote doom metal acts, if you count that it has The Devil’s Blood in its roster…
I wouldn’t say that Van records targets Doom metal nor would I say our sound is entirely doom. I think Van Records have great taste in high quality music and because of this has some great diversity in the labels roster.
In a musical panorama where a lot of female doom metal/proto doom singers are nowadays coming out, you stand out for your vocal abrasiveness and spit-in-your-face attitude. It’s maybe the thrash influence or its your natural way to do?
I am happy to stand apart from other female fronted acts, and hopefully other musicians as well. My style is completely natural and holds absolutely no fronts, how I act and how I sing comes from deep within myself. If I come across rough and harsh I can admit that as a woman in the metal world I have learned that it is best to face forward with no fear, so I am not afraid to snarl time to time.
Mat, in various interview, uses the terms “witch thrash” and “power trio”, mind giving us your point of view?
We are a three piece and our sound, live, is very big, we have orchestrated our songs to fill the room completely which gives us the powerful effect. “Witch thrash” describes our style and how we play live where we evoke a menacing and wild feeling.
While writing this interview, I’m also listening/watching to your brand new promo video “Blacklands”. Did you have fun shooting it? Can you share with us some details? Also what you can say about the first one “Descent of Man” taken from “In Witch Order”?
“Blacklands” was filmed with Toronto based director Jaan Silmburg of Pistoltrixx. We enjoy working with him and love his filming and editing style. He also directed the “Decent of Man” video, which turned our amazing. We are currently in preproduction for two more videos to be released in the coming summer months. Making videos is a fun way to share and express our music, and it is always a great experience.
Flash question: do you like more the CD format or the vinyl format? And why?
I enjoy vinyl and the ritual in which you listen and flip records; there is something very kinaesthetically pleasing about it. However, I do travel a lot and Vinyl is the less practical listening medium so I take pleasure in the convenience of CD’s.
Well, Liz, we’re at the end, what are the next Castle projects? I hope a live album too..
A live album in definitely in the works for us. Aside from that a North American tour and an EP are due out in time for the coming fall season!
Please feel free to greet our readers and fans as you want at Femme Metal Webzine. Thanks again for this interview, I hope you like it.
I would just like to say thank you for this opportunity to talk about Castle’s music and art and like metal, stay hard!!
Elizabeth Blackwell photo by cloakture.com in Tilburg, NL
Band Logo by Eric Haines Photography
Interview by Ed MacLaren
Every once in a while you run across a promising band new band and you’re instantly captivated by their sound, their creativity and their maturity. But most of all you can sense that intangible quality – something difficult to describe – that makes them unique and sets them apart. Ellyose is one of those bands. They ooze potential and bring a defiantly fresh take on gothic metal music. Femme Metal had the pleasure to speak to Ellyose vocalist Justine Daaé on recording their debut album “Théogyne”, the struggles of an up-and-coming band and staying true to your musical vision.Ellyose has the look and the sound to make a real musical impact on the French metal scene and beyond. What can you give some background of you and the band?
I myself have a classical background; I have studied classical music and singing at the conservatory in Paris and still am. At the age of 18, I started singing in some metal bands; it made me realize and understand several things: that I could never work with people handling music as leisurely entertainment and that, as I’m also a musician, I could never be only an interpreter, I needed to be very much involved in the writing process of the songs. It took me a few years to find partners who matched my musical personality and involvement and who didn’t want to do music in an amateurish way. When I met Ghislain (bass player) in early 2009, I felt I found the right person to work with and that’s when Ellyose began. Our guitarist Arnaud joined us 8 months later, after we released our 6-track-demo.
Ellyose has been together and performing for just over a year. What can people expect when they listen to Ellyose for the first time?
They can expect music loaded with arrangements mixing different types of musical influences among them classical (especially with the vocals) electronic and dance. It is very much a challenge to find the right way to make everything go well together to bring different emotions.
Ellyose is currently hard at work on its debut album “Théogyne”. What’s the recording process been like so far?
The hardest part is keeping the necessary distance to judge fairly our own songs – to be able to stand back and remain objective. In other words, keeping fresh ears after listening to parts of the songs a thousand times to find the perfect arrangement. It’s very long hours spent in front of a computer with our instruments trying to catch emotions in a very rigorous way. It’s exhausting but thrilling.
We can get a musical taste of Ellyose on your MySpace site and the posted tracks are excellent. What can we expect on “Théogyne”? Will the remaining songs be in the same vein or do you have some surprises in store?
It will be in the same vein as our eponymous track “Théogyne”, meaning less of a metal tradition, moving away from symphonic or gothic metal towards electronic, techno, dance and trance. This approach takes the strength and power metal brings and contrasts it with classical arrangements and vocals. And this is what it’s all about, violence and delicacy in one combined in music we want to sound aggressive and sensual.
Did you enter the studio with a specific idea of what you wanted the tracks to sound like or did everything get tossed out the window after you entered the studio and started to experiment?
We don’t experiment in the studio – everything is fixed before in the finest detail. The time to experiment is during working sessions. In the studio, we focus on not forgetting what we perfected, on being good at our instruments, and making ourselves clear and understandable with the sound engineer about what we want.
There are many operatically trained vocalists in goth metal but your classical vocal style works very well with the industrial and electronic elements in Ellyose. And by combining that operatic approach with breathy whispers and spoken word segments, it creates a unique vocal perspective that stands out. How did this vocal style develop?
I like to mix different kinds of singing and make use of everything I can do with my voice in order not to sound monotone and bring different emotions to each song: something more intimate with the whispers, something more lyrical with the vocals. Unfortunately, I’m unable to do grunts! I wish I could! I’m amazed by classical singers like Floor Jansen (very recently) who can do it without damaging their voice. At least that’s what she claims!
Your vocal background is in classical music. What is it about this vocal style that works so well with metal music?
To me, classical singing doesn’t just work well with metal, it could work well with many other kinds of music. I’ve never understood why it is so unpopular or why it sticks only with classical or metal.
Do you ever perform in a traditional classical environment? Is that a musical goal of yours?I still perform in a completely classical environment as part of my training at the conservatory. I also do chorus in operas. I have a deep passion for classical music and singing but obviously, I could never make a career in that environment plus classical music is just one facet of who I am. I’d rather be the crazy metal kind of girl.
Ellyose, while having a strong goth metal focus, also leans heavily towards industrial and electronic music. Is the future of metal going to be one where it assimilates different styles of music to stay fresh.
Metal has only been here for around 40 years so how will it sound in 100 years? I think it’s fair to expect it will continue to evolve like it already has by assimilating different styles of music.
You’ve also been heavily involved with Grey November, an excellent ambient doom metal band, that released its debut album “D’Automne” back in 2008. What prompted you to change musical directions from the dark ambience of Grey November to forming a gothic industrial electronic metal band like Ellyose? It’s a big change.
I don’t actually write Grey November’s music, I only write the vocal parts, so the project wasn’t mine in the first place, I agreed to work with Cédric whose music and lyrics deeply moved me. As a result, I’m very proud of what we’ve done even though ambient doom is definitely not the kind of music I want to go along with. Ellyose is my own project with my bass player partner Ghislain Henry, I am the songwriter myself in close collaboration with him. Today it is my top priority. I wanted a band that was totally who I was and which sounded totally the way I liked. It’s more personal.
Is Grey November still a viable outlet for your darker and more doomy creative tendencies? Will there be another Grey November project in the future?
I’m too busy with Ellyose for the moment to think of some other work sessions, but yes, I’d like to keep singing for Grey November in the future, I’m still a gothic music lover.
What are the musical and compositional differences in working with a band like Ellyose versus a band like Grey November?
The work is extremely different as far as Grey November is only a studio band, we’ve never planned to perform on stage so we’ve never recruited any session musicians and never had to go to rehearsals unlike Ellyose where we had to find other musicians and work for live shows.Many bands – regardless of what country they’re from – choose to sing in English to supposedly maximize their potential audience. Your lyrics are sung in your native French. French works so well with your music and your vocal style (especially the spoken parts) that English would take away from the overall impact of Ellyose. Other successful French bands like Kells sing in French while Markize performs in English, French AND Russian. But is there a negative to that? Does the language you sing in have an impact on the success of a band and the audience they can reach?
First, thank you for saying French matches with our music, especially that you are not a francophone. The funny thing is that I feel that the ones who are more likely to be bothered by French are French people. I personally like to hear songs in a foreign language (especially German) but most people keep thinking English is either the prettiest language to fit music or that it widens the audience. My choice with Ellyose is to record a bilingual album with French and English, just like the way I practice both of them in my daily life. French brings something unusual and I like to go off the beaten track.
As someone who’s been working the scene and developing your musical vision with increasing success, I’m sure you’ve run into a few roadblocks. What advice do you have for young bands trying to get their music out there?
Ellyose is a young band trying to get its music out there. If Ellyose succeeds, it will be thanks to our association with people aiming for the same goals. Music is teamwork as it also includes people providing the mixing, the production, the promotion, etc. The key thing would be surrounding yourself with bandmates who think the way you do. As well, choose the right people to collaborate with even though it could take some time to find them. Never lose patience.
How important is the Internet in developing and marketing new bands in the 21st century?
Internet is freedom; it allows you to choose one’s own music. Other media imposes on us. Most bands couldn’t live without the Internet. Its role is essential in developing and marketing a new band.(Famous) Last words?“Ne fais pas attention à ce que dit la critique : on n’a jamais élevé une statue à un critique.” (Jean Sibelius)
This is a French quotation meaning that no matter how harshly people may be bad-mouthing and criticizing others thinking they have an important role stating their opinion, they’d never be the ones statues are erected for. It’s poetic way to say, “To hell with detractors!” Follow your own instincts and inspirations and never try to have unanimous backing.?
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Chiara from Crysalys. Italian metal band Crysalys was founded in 2005 by singer Chiara “Dusk” and drummer Alessandro “Doomtrain” . Their aim was to combine Swedish melodic death metal and the modern American metalcore sound with soprano vocals. Image Simone Simons singing in an Carcass cover band with members from Walls of Jericho and you might come close to it. They released one demo “Season of Suffering” (2005), one EP “White Lotus on Acheron Shores” (2007) and a mini CD “…And Let the Innocence Dream” (2009). However, a tour in Holland and France was cancelled this year.
The first question is a logical one: what happened to the band that caused the split?
This is an “intimate” question, but we can merely say that we’ve grown in different ways. So, after some personal and musical divergences, Mario, Giampaolo and Matteo decided to leave the band.The first thought was to put an end to this dream…but we quickly realized that we can’t live without Crysalys.
More important, was this split on friendly terms or more in the style of the Gorgoroth split?
Ahah we’re less unkind than Gorgoroth! The split was friendly enough… We’re worried and a bit disappointed about the decision of the other guys, they were great friends for me and Ale, but life can change and people as well… We can only wish them to find their way… We’ll never forget them… We shared a lot of emotions together during these years…
Have you and Alessandro ever considered of quitting with Crysalys after the split and start again with a new band and clean history?
Absolutely not. Crysalys is like a son for us, it’s our big little dream, our life. The story of this band is written by our emotions, disappointments, unforgettable moments and sacrifices. As long as we are alive, our souls will continue to believe in music and create emotions… All of this is called Crysalys for us. Historia magistra vitae est.
I guess that you are looking for new musicians. To what kind of musicians are you looking for?
We want to give a new direction to our sound, I mean, we want to keep focusing on our style, but, this time, we also want to make it more experimental. Heavy guitars with modern synths and an alternative, powerful bass.
And will this split change the sound of Crysalys?
Of course it will. New members mean new styles and we do not exclude anything. Our sound will remain heavy and modern as always, but they will add more influences.
Why did you and Alessandro choose the name Crysalys for the band?
Alessandro was playing an old videogame in which he found a creature called “Chrysalis” and in that same moment we looked at each other and said “Crysalys!”. At once we liked the sound of those letters together and the meaning of the word. Music for me is like a beautiful butterfly flying free in the sky of life. I just want to release this beautiful creature from its chrysalis to make our music fly with the wind of emotions… (A chrysalis or nympha is the pupal stage of butterflies. The name is of Greek origin. In Greek chrysós or χρυσός means gold.)
You have released three CD’s. Will you continue to play those songs or (as happens often with splits) concentrate on new work?
Well, I think that we will keep on playing old stuff, especially during our the gigs, but I can’t assure you that they will sound the same as on our CDs. We will work on our old stuff just to break the ice with the new members and, after this, we’ll focus on new songs! We wish to record a full length by winter 2010!
But there is also some good news. Chiara will participate with the upcoming Beto Vazquez album. “The Argentinean bass player and songwriter Beto Vazquez in his career has worked with a lot of great artists around the world like: Tarja Turunen (ex Nightwish), Candice Night (Blackmore’s Night), Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody), Liv Kristine (Leaves’ Eyes), Floor Jansen (After Forever) and many others..” Can you already reveal some details about this project?
No I can’t ahah! I can only say that I’m working on the song on which I have to sing. I think that I’ll record it after the second week of September. Beto sent me the lyrics and the instrumental part of my song… This new experience is a challenge and, of course, a honour for me!
And how did you got in touch with Beto Vazquez?
I already knew Beto’s music, since I’m a big fan of Tarja Turunen and Nightwish . One day I found a message from him in the mailbox of Crysalys’ Myspace, in which he asked me to sing on the new Beto Vazquez “Infinity” album. I was so excited… Actually, I don’t even know how he found me, but I really respect him and his carrer and I can’t wait to complete that song and record it!
The last question: is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
Uhm, I think you’ve asked me a lot of important things! I just want to say a big THANK YOU to all our devoted fans that supported us so warmly in these days… I’m really touched and thankful. I usually call this kind of magic MUSIC. This is a hard moment of my life… but I’ll definitely keep fighting and singing for all the people that believe in me and in Crysalys. They call me Phoenix and there’s a reason why..
Interview by Si Smith
From the first chord to the final drumbeat, a Crimfall album is an aural spectacle to behold. Orchestrations and sound effects only serve to focus the listener on the music that is on offer: a rich tapestry of metal and gusto that transports the observer to another world, complete with swords and battles. But if this is escapism, than it is a guilty pleasure, as this album proves. Moving on into darker more wintry territory, it proves to touch on themes closer to our hearts, but still always that firm foundation of epic folk metal. I braved the cold and sat by the campfire with Helena to discuss the band’s progress so far…
First of all thanks so much for talking to us Helena, and a warm welcome from all at Femme Metal.
Thanks! It’s my pleasure.
I understand that the band began as a one-man project of guitarist Jakke Viitala. What did the music sound like at that early stage? How did you become involved in the whole scheme?
Jakke had heard my voice in my former band, Tacere’s debut album, and he asked me to try out some vocals for the three song demo “Burning Winds”. The material was pretty much ready at that time, and when I came in, we only arranged some melodies to fit my voice better. The music itself wasn’t that far away from how it came out on our first full-length album, but of course some arrangements were made, and the overall production of “As the Path Unfolds…” sounds much richer than the first demo of the band.
“Burning Winds” was your first recorded opus - how did you feel the recording went for this early work?
I can only answer from my part, since the first evening we recorded my vocals was the first time I met Jakke, so I don’t know how the process was for the others. For me the situation was relaxed, laid back and I felt secure and appreciated. We didn’t do anything in a hurry, ‘though it only took a couple of evenings to get the demo vocals done. Jakke and his wonderful wife Heidi first welcomed me with their heart-warming manner of stuffing all their guests with delicious food and wine, and since I also loved Jakke’s music, I decided to continue working with him after he asked me to take part on a full-length album.
Two of the songs from this demo were re-recorded for the first full-length “As the Path Unfolds…”. Were these tracks changed much in transition?
The other one, “Where Waning Winds Lead”, has now a slightly different touch melody-wise, and it’s intro is completely recomposed. If I remember correctly, there weren’t such big changes for “Wildfire Season”, but if you guys really want to compare, I suggest hunting down one of our demos and checking the differences out yourselves.
There were many session musicians on the first album, including Trollhorn (Finntroll, Moonsorrow). How was it working with all these guys on the project?
Did they understand well the general idea behind what you were trying to create?I never actually saw any of our brilliant session musicians during the making of the album, nor can I tell you what exactly was Jakke’s vision behind everything. “As the Path Unfolds…” came out as it did, and I hope our dear composer is also as satisfied with it as the rest of us are.
Your voice soars on this first cd - you are clearly very versatile in your approach to the vocal lines, what is your background in singing?
The flexibility of my voice was one of the main reasons Jakke contacted me in the first place. He wanted a singer, who could awaken many different kinds of moods and feelings, without getting stuck on one style only. I’ve been singing my whole life. I’ve done classical studies with many different teachers as well as I’ve taken vocal lessons from one of the best jazz singers in Finland, Sanni Orasmaa. Of course that all has molded my voice, but no-one has ever taught me to sing heavy metal, so on the other hand I’m self-taught. Distortion for example.. I’ve wondered how does one teach that kind of stuff to another! I learned to use distortion and that Janis Joplin-like rattle mostly on my own and by listening to good singers who tend to use it - men and women alike.
You and Mikko clearly have a great working relationship when it comes to your vocals. What’s it like when you guys hang out together outside of “work” times? What does Crimfall do to relax?
The whole band has a good, family-like vibe going on. We concentrate best on what we’re doing by not taking things too seriously and joking a lot - teasing each other like sisters and brothers do. We rarely meet outside gigs, band rehearsals and meetings, but when we do, it’s usually about celebrating and enjoying the life “the finnish way” - sauna, beer, good music and good company. Actually after our first rehearsals with our drummer Janne we all ended up just chilling out, going to the sauna and after that continuing our rehearsals butt naked between the times we sat in the sauna. (God I hope the guys won’t see this, ha ha..)
Some labelled you “soundtrack music” because of the orchestral parts and the sounds of horse, blacksmith, etc, in between tracks. How important were the “sound effects” to the overall meaning of the first album? Did you intend the album to seem like the soundtrack to some immense fantasy film?
You should definitely ask Jakke about this, since I have no clue about any overall meanings behind any of our music. I just create some of it myself, sing it and enjoy it. I think with Crimfall the music comes first, and all the sound effects remain extra. But our music wouldn’t be the same without the orchestrations and the choir parts, so in my belief they’re at least almost as important a part of our music as the guitar walls and the bass lines are. Of course the movie-like sound effects help the listener to reach the battle fields in a more detailed way, and I think that is a nice spice to our records.
Where do you feel that the band fits in in today’s metal scene? Do you pay much attention to the other bands that might be playing similar kinds of music to yourselves, or do you deliberately keep yourself separate so as not to be overly influenced?
Oh no, I hate to box music! We all listen to many different kinds of stuff, but also quite a lot of epic folk metal, which probably would be the closest genre to box us into.. What can I say: we love what we’re doing, so I think it’s quite logical that we enjoy music with similarities as well. I don’t think finnish bands are too eager to stalk one another - of course we’re interested if something big happens to a band we know people from, but otherwise we just mind our own business’.
The year 2011 has brought a new album in the shape of “The Writ of Swords”. Could you explain the title to us?
The new album is much darker and gloomier than the first one, and somehow the lyrical and the musical themes are much more hopeless as they were on “As the Path Unfolds…”. I think “The Writ of Sword” is an excellent name for an album handling all the horrors of war and the pain of the loss it brings with it.
The last track on “As the Path Unfolds…” was “Novembre” and the first track of the new album is “Dicembre”? Was this intended to follow on almost directly from the first album? Is there a direct thematic link between the two?
As you can hear, the musical theme of “Novembre” is also the main theme on “Dicembre”. And yes, as the winter follows the fall, so does our second album follow chronologically our debut album both thematically and musically.
In this interviewer’s humble opinion, your voice sounds particularly beautiful on the some of the more folky songs like “Frost Upon Their Graves”. If you could produce an album solely according to your own personal tastes and vocal preferences, what kind of album would it be?
I’d probably make something a cappella. In fact, I’ve had a dream of a vocal group for a long time. Something like finnish folk music or maybe even metal. But if I’ll ever find time to arrange stuff for a metal a cappella group, I’ll definitely make it very rough and try to produce also the drums only with human voices, unlike for example Van Canto does.
Now that the band is fully-formed, is this the way it will stay now? Are you all pretty settled in your roles within the band, or is there room for some flexibility?
This is the best possible “casting” for Crimfall. Five members is a great amount of people in a band and since we’ve all sort of found our places and accepted our responsibilities within our team, I don’t see us reforming anytime soon.
Since your music is so “epic”, how do fans respond at gigs? Do you get the viking helmets from the Finland connection, or maybe the more “serious” fan rather than the diehard mosher?
I’m glad to say we have both! And may I add, they’re equally pleasing to play to: the hard core fans in the front row, the nasty looking pit forming in the center of the crowd and last but not least the people standing a bit further away but still clearly enjoying our music, fists held up high.
I must say that “The Writ of Swords” is one album I would have loved to have on vinyl. Are there any plans to release this album on vinyl format?
We did discuss the vinyl possibility with our record company, and I’m happy to say they didn’t turn it down - as a matter of fact they brought the idea on the table. “When”, on the other hand, is a question I don’t know the answer to.
As we draw near the end of the interview, I have to ask about your plans for the future. Touring is a given and I hear you are supporting Turisas on their “Stand Up and Fight” tour. Did you meet these guys already when Olli played violin on this album? What are you looking forward to most about touring? What do you miss the most when touring?
Yes, we did support Turisas on some of their gigs on that massive tour: we got to perform in London, Nottingham, Vosselaar, Paris, Amsterdam, Hämeenlinna and Helsinki with them. And I tell you, it was a blast! Although only some of us had met Olli and Mathias Nygård while recording the violins and guest vocal parts, we all got along so well with them on tour. They and their awesome crew were just absolutely great! I think we’re looking forward to do some more touring with a band yet to be announced. While we tour abroad, we might miss our closest ones and the luxury of sleeping in our own beds, but at the same time the best thing in it is definitely to get to play for different kinds of crowds and people not from our cold country. It’s amazing to find such blood brothers and sisters who dig the metal we play. It’s a very uniting feeling!
Interview by Connie Bach
Hailing from Madrid, Crownless carries a sound all its own, which is tough to describe. With its mix of Nane’s clean, strong vocals, combined with Sergio Mena’s sinister growls offers a lovely contrast. “Lost Inside” is from their self-titled album, “Dark Evolution”, that will be released next year and is on the Femme Metal compilation coming out in October.
Hi, Vanessa. We are so glad Crownless decided to contribute to “Beauty and Brutality”. I’m just curious, where did the name Nane come from?
Hi! Nane is a nickname that a good friend of mine started using about eight years ago to call me. It seems that Nane is the way some Spanish children say Vane and Vane comes from Vanessa. My friend thought I was like a child and I use that name since then.
Though this is Crownless’s first release under that name, can you tell me about the band’s creation and history under the name Anzeray?
Well, this is a question that people usually ask. Three of the actual members of Crownless were in Anzeray but that’s the only relation between Crownless and that band. I mean, we had great times and we did great music together but Crownless is a new band, with a new musical approach and a different concept not an Anzeray’s evolution. When Anzeray broke up, time went by and one day Jorge Escudero phoned me and told me “Hey, I’m thinking in a new band, would you join me ?” and the rest is well known.
What forced so drastic a line-up change in 2006 and why the name Crownless?
The new line-up is a consequence of all we were talking about before… CrownLess is a new band, not an evolution so, in fact, there have been no line-up changes by now. Why CrownLess? There was a list with… about ten different possible names for the band. All of them had some kind of symbolism about our feelings or about our purposes. Crownless is a very representative name for a band that doesn’t believe in kingdoms. We voted and Crownless won.
Where did you learn your vocal skills? What is it like, working with a duel vocalist like Sergio?
My mother taught me the basics when I was a child but after that I continued learning by myself. I really can’t remember my life without singing. I have had lots of microphones since I was a child. I loved singing, everyday and everywhere. Sergio is a very talented singer. I really love the sound of his voice. And I think that we are a great vocal couple. The contrast between our voices and the different ways we can sing make us very versatile and, I think, attractive. I’m very proud of that.
Nane, what is your personal history with the band, and the metal music scene?
I’m very very VERY shy, haha. Even though I love singing, I never thought about being part of a band until I was about twenty years old. I started singing in a cover band called Gargoyle. We played greatest hits from bands such as Stratovarius, Skid Row or even Manowar! Haha. It was nice but Manowar really wasn’t my style XD. After that, some years after, I joined Anzeray. That was the time when I started learning classical technique by myself. With work, I managed to combine this operatic approach with my clean vocal skills. Then Anzeray broke up and I started again the “looking-for-a band” process…and finally, CrownLess came into my life. Before Gargoyle I sang and played guitar for friends, but never imagined something like this.
Turning now to the album, how was it “born” and how did the creative process go?
Well, the song “Lost Inside” is an exclusive version for the compilation, so the album is not released yet. We are at the studio at the moment. There is, however, a demo cd that was released in 2008 named “CrownLess”. That was our “introduction” to the metal scene. The creative process for the album is being hard, because we want to give our best. Anyway, we are proud and we are sure you’ll like the results. We’re looking forward to showing it to the world.
How does the process of building an album and a following, change the relationships within a band?
I think all this process is giving us the possibility of knowing thoroughly the rest of the band members. We talk a lot and we spent a great part of our time together, recording, creating, changing lines… working to make a dream come true. I’ve always said bands are like a love relationship and an album is the fruit of that union.
As far as the song “Lost Inside” goes, what is the concept behind it? How does it relate to the rest of the album?
“Lost Inside” talks about anguish and death, about those nights in which you cannot sleep, and then, you start thinking about your existence. We live everyday with death around us but we decide to ignore it because that makes live something easier to deal with. “Lost Inside” talks about the moment when someone realizes that cannot ignore that anguish. I think the album will be a dark album in almost every aspect: composition, arrangements, lyrics, album art… Anyway death is something that comes to us as life does, so there will be moments for hope as well.
How do your songs relate to your life, and the lives of the band members?
Music is an expression of the soul. When I’m sad, I always sing. That always comforts me and helps me to go on. Also when I’m angry, when I’m in love or when I’m happy. I think in CrownLess we all need music and we have lots of things to say to the world, as our listeners do.
Metal fans can be quite crazy. How do you like to connect with them?
We love them! We are logged at CrownLess Official Forum and we chat there with fans. Also we try to meet and chat with them on gigs. When I’m on stage, singing, I love to see their faces and notice that they are feeling what I’m saying the same way I do. There’s no money to pay what they can make you feel only with their eyes. It’s awesome.
What is the most memorable thing a fan has done to show support? What was your reaction?
They have done t-shirts, play cards, they’ve come to gigs far away from their cities…but the most hilarious thing I remember now was when they bought some horrible underwear, wrote on them support and love phrases and threw them to us when we were on stage. We couldn’t believe it. What a moment! Hahaha.
Interview by Si Smith
France had produced some great music over these past few years, and now has a new champion: a satisfying blend of pop, rock and general progressiveness that takes on board influences from all across the musical spectrum. Femme Metal spoke to vocalist Adeline to discuss how they found the perfect recipe for combining all those elements!
First off, a warm welcome to you from all at Femme Metal, and thank you for speaking with us today.
Thank YOU for your interest in what we do !
Before your arrival in the band in 2000, the band began way back in 1998 as many bands do, as a cover band. Do you know what kind of songs were being covered at the time?
I think they covered a few songs of Anathema, Moonspell, Yearning, Edge of Sanity… that kind of bands. As for me I had a cover band too in which I sang classic rock songs from bands such as The Cranberries, The Police, U2… That’s how they found me, they attended one of our gigs and they contacted me a few days later.
Your first couple of demos with the band, “Stanzas” and“Dreamland”, must have been relatively successful as you eventually landed a deal with Sacral production. Thinking back to those early demos, was the sound a lot different from what it is now? Or is it just a natural progression through the years?
Those demos sounded a little bit heavier than the music we play now and there were quite a lot of synths/electro inputs, but the “mellow” side of our music, that mix of rock, pop and metal, was already there. So were the flute and the percussions. It was more than ten years ago now, and at the time my bandmates were obviously much more influenced by the metal bands they covered a few years ago than they are now. In between they sort of abandoned things like the death metal growls and the electro inputs, and they gave the music a “progressive rock” feeling. Maybe because they managed to build through the years a common reference table in the composition process, where as ten years ago the music of Akin was more a raw mix of the very different musical influences of each member of the band.
France seems to have produced some successful progressive-edged bands in recent years, including Auspex, Qantice, Kalisia, Adagio and Spheric Universe Experience (to name but a few). Even Gojira (although much heavier) still hold on to a progressive influence. What do you think it is about the French culture that seems to launch this thirst for the progressive in music?
It maybe because the accent is put on the music rather than the lyrics. There might be a few exceptions but the lyrics are mainly in English which is not our mother tongue. What we find most interesting are the actual melodies, the rhythm, the harmony… That’s probably why the French are so interested in progressive music. That’s my guess anyway.
Considering these other bands, what do you feel Akin can bring to the scene that is different from the other bands of the genre, if you consider yourself “labelled” by a genre at all?
It maybe the variety of influences in our music. I personally listen to a lot of Sting and Tori Amos (and recently I found some interesting things in Lady Gaga’s music, please don’t hit me!), when other members of the band would be more into Dream Theater, Opeth or Anathema, for some others it would be the Beatles … It may also be the variety of instruments we use in our songs: we like to do experiments. In the end, we think that the music we play doesn’t belong to a genre in particular. Whether you’re fond of rock, metal or pop you might like our new album. We hope so in fact!
There was a long period between releases before the new album was birthed. What were you guys doing during this time?
We have had arguments in 2004 and the guys decided I wasn’t a fit in the group anymore. They therefore had to look for a new singer, which took them quite a long time. Then I know that a combination of different factors really slowed the band’s activity down : some members of the band had to move to Paris for professional reasons while the others lived in Lyon, some got married, became dads… And they also suffered several hard drive crashes where they lost a lot of data (there seem to be some kind of “Akin’s curse” with computers…). They really planned to record the new album in 2008, and it took 3 years to record it because of those personal, technical and professional constraints.
This time round the album has been billed as “with a string quartet on the side”. In what ways did this affect the way the album was composed and recorded?
The string quartet brings harmonic texture to the songs. It kind of has the same function as the keyboard did on the previous album. Only it gives a more organic and Beatles feel to the music. The songs were pretty much finished before the arrangements were added.The strings were recorded separately and mixed into the songs.
There is also a wealth of other instruments on there - darbuka, djembe, dilruba, daf and tablas to name a few. What is the key to co-ordinating all these instruments do you think? Did you ever sing live alongside these musicians, or was it all recorded separately?
Adding these instruments was like adding relevant touches to spice up the album. We had already used a djembe on the previous CD’s and on stage and we thought it worked rather well. We had the opportunity of using other traditional instruments on this album and it felt natural to include them as long as they served a musical purpose.
You put a free 8-track version of the album up for free download at bandcamp.com (in fact all your previous releases are there for free download too). Did you receive any specific feedback from that at all from people who had downloaded it? What was the aim behind putting this sample up for free?
It’s too early to say because it’s very recent, but the feedback has been positive up to now. Putting this sample up for free seems like a good way to get people to listen to our music. Obviously, the album as a whole is more interesting because it takes you through one hour of music which we tried to keep as dense and exiting as possible. The Digipack is also very smart, we think.
The first two songs on the new album “The 92nd flight” and “Cassandra” also appeared on your 2003 EP “Forecast”. What was the reasoning behind revamping them for the new album alongside the new material?
“Forecast” was a “forecast” of the 2nd album “The Way Things End” which we had hoped to release a lot sooner. It gave a glimpse of the 2nd album and included new versions of songs featured in “Verse” (the first album) and a song that we didn’t have time to record during the “Verse” sessions (“The City in the Sea”).“The 92nd Flight” and “Cassandra” don’t only work as previously lost tracks, they have a real purpose because we can safely say they are much better versions that the ones recorded eight years ago.
I must say that I enjoyed the idea of the album “Verse”, being based as it was around the works of Edgar Allen Poe. This album too contains its fair share of poetry (eg on tracks “Miller’s End” and “Resilience”). What is the significance of these particular poetic works? Could you tell us a little about them?
It felt natural to use poetry on certain passages because the themes of the selected poems were very relevant and the quality of the speaker’s voice served a real musical purpose. It also gives some kind of relief to my singing voice. I must say I’m flattered that you use the word poetry to qualify “Resilience”, because it’s one of the two lyrics I wrote for this album, and I never thought about it as poetry.
Review by Lithium
When one thinks of metal, the words ‘sophisticated’ and ‘sexy’ are not exactly the first that spring to mind. In the case of Greek metallists Darcode, however, these descriptors are not only acceptable but altogether fitting. Darcode play an interesting brand of what I would describe as jazz-influenced, progressive metal. Their self-titled, seven-track demo includes six original songs and a cover version of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love”. This choice of cover tune provides a glimpse into what what Darcode is all about; if you look in the dictionary under the words ‘sophisticated’ or ‘sexy,’ you will find a picture of Sade. The basic sound on this recording is eclectic and rather unique. Guitar and bass blend together into a distorted, sometimes non-descript buzz, as keyboard-driven melodies and haunting vocals float above the menacing turmoil. Opener “Never Alone” is a good example and one of the demo’s high points. A catchy, repeating piano part anchors the song as the irresistible vocal melody joins in. Meanwhile, the sinister low-end riffing lets us know that this is, in fact, metal. Another high point is “Wall of Demons”. Its spooky array of voices gives shape to the composition, as guitars dispense nifty, rhythmic pulses in bursts of three. Jazzy rhythms, sinister-sounding electronics and the plinkity-plink of a piano add to the other-worldly atmosphere and give the song a very creepy edge. Vocalist Elina Marquise delivers a first-rate performance that is both memorable and convincing. Her soft, evocative tones vary from soothing to frightening and back again, as she weaves her ethereal web, traps you in it, and devours you with the deliberateness and efficiency of a Black Widow spider. In “I Do Not Breathe” a choir is added to the usual mix of sounds to create a yet even more-ominous atmosphere for Elina’s chilling refrain: “I can hear your thoughts. They pierce my brain. I can feel your fears. They drive me insane.” Not what you would call typical metal lyrics, but Darcode is not your typical metal band. In fact, my only real complaint with this recording is with respect to the sound production. I thought the guitars could use more air in them, while the drum sound struck me as a bit hollow and thin. At times it seemed as if there were holes in the mix, and the whole thing sounded too bright. Still, with this demo Darcode has produced a fine piece of work. Their talent, creativity and potential are on full display on this disc, and with it they have proven themselves worthy of serious attention. Though their approach and sound ultimately may turn out to be a little too hip for the metal masses, this effort earns high praise and a positive recommendation. Male vocals: Minimal and limited mainly to a few brief choral parts. No growled male vocals.
Rating - 70/100
Review by Tony Cannella
From Chicago, Illinois, the band Solarsphere plays melodic symphonic metal, adding a touch of other influences here-and-there to create their debut 3-song demo. Solarsphere is led by vocalist Rachel Sabine. She has got a beautiful, melodic slightly operatic style to her voice. “Eternal Hunter” opens the CD. This is a good start and my favorite of the 3-songs. Starting off with drums, bass and Rachel’s vocals, the song slowly builds as a rock solid guitar riff joins in. This song has loads of atmosphere (thanks in part to the haunting keyboard arrangement) and a simply addicting melody. “Eternal Hunter” is a Beautiful start to the 13-minute demo. Next is “Sick Pleasure” and it is really not too different stylistically than the previous song. Rachel’s voice sounds great and the song is perhaps a bit heavier, but if you liked the first song, than “Sick Pleasure” does nothing to bring the quality down. The final song, “Inner Demons” is perhaps my least favorite song, but it still packs quite a punch and is the heaviest thing on here. On their debut demo, Solarsphere plays symphonic metal with all the conviction of a veteran band. This is a positive step in the right direction for this young Chicago band.
Rating - 78/100