INFOS : firstname.lastname@example.org
Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
Every time that the Swedish Heavy metallers heroes Sister Sin Official releases a new album they never miss a hit. We’re talking about their fourth album “Now and Forever” out via Victory Records that according to Tony is “possibly their most raw, in-your-face and aggressive album to date”. You love belligerent, straight-in-your-face vocals and an attitude à la Motorhead? Make yours this album but before stop by to read this ace review (RATED 93 out of 100) @ (via Sister Sin – “Now and Forever” (2012) « Femme Metal Webzine)
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
Forget all those Cristina Scabbia & Lacuna Coil look-alikes from Italy. If you want to hear some old sckool metal from that country that would make Doro or Sabina Classen proud you should give the band White Skull a try. No soprano vocals or sweet elven maidens onstage with this band. I saw White Skull a few years ago at the Metal Female Voices Fest and they were one of the highlights today (the others were Girlschool and Izegrim).
Did you always wanted to become a singer?
Well, from what I can remember, when I started listening to heavy metal music I was about 16 years and I imagined myself running on a stage like Bruce Dickinson, hehe! That’s probably the dream of many young metal heads. Btw, then I started learning guitar and I found my own style on vocals just many years later.
Did you have any other bands before White Skull?
Yes, but as I said before, I was playing guitar. I played in some underground bands of my town, sometimes on guitar, later on vocals, and sometimes both on guitar and voice. Everything is good to make experience!
Who are your favourite singers?
Bruce Dickinson, Bobby Blitz and Ronny James Dio.
And to what kind of music do you listen yourself?
I love and listen mostly to thrash metal (‘80s Bay Area bands) and classic heavy metal like Iron Maiden and Scorpions.
What are your other passions besides music?
I love reading books and watching horror films. I like being scared!
And is it difficult to combine White Skull with your personal life?
No, luckily my job gives me the chance to plan my time in an independent way.
Besides White Skull you are also busy with your mail-order shop (see www.over-zone.com). What made you decide to start your own mail order shop specialized in old school metal stuff from the eighties?
Thanks for the question about it. I’m into the ‘80s style since I was young and I also worked with a business partner in a rock-metal shop for several years. After making enough experience in it, I was in need of independence and I also found out that she wasn’t the right person to share my work with. So I opened my own on-line shop and finally I could put my own style in it! It’s been a great satisfaction and I hope to support the old school style as long as possible, also for the young generations.
Do you think that metal as genre and life style was better in the eighties than today?
Surely it was better in the eighties. Everything was new, and you had to make sacrifices for your passion in Metal. Now everything is much more simple, you can find everything on-line, Mp3, information, shops… So it’s also less strong than before. And then, today many pubs and clubs are closing or just stopping to let bands play. It’s very sad!!
Unlike most female singers today (who try to be the next Sharon den Adel or Cristina Scabbia) the way you sing is more in the style of Sabina Classen from Holy Moses. Since this is not the most gentle way to tread your vocal cords, what do you do to keep your voice in top condition?
Yes it’s not a gentle way at all, haha. I’ll be honest I’m doing very few things for it: just concentrating in the right breathing and rehearsing at home to find the best position of the sound in my mouth or head, or nose.. I’m sorry, I haven’t got time for vocal lessons at the moment.
How did you became a member of White Skull?
Oh, totally by accident! I wasn’t following the band in the last times, so I didn’t know that they were searching for a new vocalist. One night I met Danilo in a pub and he just asked me what I was making in music now. He only knew that I was playing guitar in some local bands but he didn’t know that I was singing too. So he simply asked me to make the proof with them.. I did it one week later and here I am.
And since you are not White Skull’s first singer, was it necessary to adapt the songs to your voice?
Of course it always happens, when one vocalist comes after another (or two!!) and he has to perform songs that he hasn’t composed. That’s a old story! I’ve tried to do my best, but it’s natural that I prefer singing my own songs, I haven’t got problems in telling it.
What are the most memorable moments for you with White Skull? We are a band and a family as well, so every time we go out and play, we have very good time together, in total harmony and fun. I can remember when we played at the MFVF in Belgium. We arrived to the place the day before playing, so we had all the day and night to relax and touring around Bruxelles. It was like a little holiday and we really had fun (especially with food and beers!!) I have seen White Skull only once, at the Metal Female Voices Fest of 2008. How do you look back at that festival? Oh, I didn’t read this question when I told you about it in the previous one! As I told you, we really enjoyed that little tour and also the organisation of the Festival has been good and kind with us. I only have to say that we were the only True Metal band, that day. The other bands played mostly gothic or doom or some new metal, that’s not my genre. It seems difficult to find female metal bands in classic heavy metal! Luckily at the end came the Girlschool with their funny and old school rock’n roll, hehe.
We are a band and a family as well, so every time we go out and play, we have very good time together, in total harmony and fun. I can remember when we played at the MFVF in Belgium. We arrived to the place the day before playing, so we had all the day and night to relax and touring around Bruxelles. It was like a little holiday and we really had fun (especially with food and beers!!)
I have seen White Skull only once, at the Metal Female Voices Fest of 2008. How do you look back at that festival?
Oh, I didn’t read this question when I told you about it in the previous one!No problem :)
As I told you, we really enjoyed that little tour and also the organisation of the Festival has been good and kind with us. I only have to say that we were the only True Metal band, that day. The other bands played mostly gothic or doom or some new metal, that’s not my genre. It seems difficult to find female metal bands in classic heavy metal! Luckily at the end came the Girlschool with their funny and old school rock’n roll, hehe.
Can you introduce us to the other members of White Skull?
Tony Mad (Rhythm Guitar) and Alex (Drums) are the founder members of the band. Later, after other mambers, came Danilo Bar on the solo guitar and me on voice and finally Jo on bass. During the story of the band there have been several line up changes. For example, Alessio Lucatti (Keyboards) has just left the band due to employment purposes. It’s not easy to find the right people to play with, sometime for personal reasons, other times for a different style in composing ad taste in music, or simply for problems in the job. Now we hope to last many and many years like this!
Who is responsible for the music and lyrics in White Skull?
The music is composed by all of us, sometimes all together, other times working on one’s idea or riff. When each song is ready I write the lyrics and the melody for the voice.
And were do you and the band get the inspiration for the songs?
We all listen to metal since years and years, so I think that our inspiration comes in a natural way from all the bands we love. Though, ‘cause we have different taste in music (I’m mostly into thrash metal, for example), at the end everything mixes together and that’s the way how the White Skull current style was born.
“Forever Fight” is White Skull’s latest album. Is “Forever Fight” a concept album or are it thirteen individual songs?
I’d better say that they are 13 different songs, linked together by the same historical period (the end of the Roman Empire of Occident). Some of the songs tell about the same story (for example, “Boudicca’s Speech” is the prologue of “A Mother’s Revenge” and other songs talk about Attle and the Huns). But in the end it’s not a real concept album.
How did the press and the fans received the album?
Well, I can honestly say in a good way. I’m happy about the result. Of course there will always be who prefers the old WS style or members, but it’s natural and it’s not a problem. Everyone has his own taste in music and you can’t say anything, everybody is right. The important thing is that fans come to our shows and at the end they are really happy and come to talk with us with much excitement. And this is the biggest satisfaction for us!
Since “Forever Fight” was released in 2009, are you already working on a new album?
We’ve been busy with the live shows since now, so we’re planning to start the new album around this summer but with no hurry. There’s nothing worst for a musician than being late and having to write songs as quick as possible. We also live in different and also far cities, so it’s not easy to meet each others and play together, so the times are a little longer than normally.
If you look back at “Forever Fight”, are there things on the album you would have done different now?
This is my first album with WS and I’m much attached to it. So, even if nothing is always “perfect” and you could always improve it, now I wouldn’t change a single note in it.
And what are White Skull plans for the future?
Going on with the live shows and starting the composition of the new songs as well.
And the last question: is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
Oh you’ve already asked a lot, hehehe! :)
One can never ask enough questions :)
I can only add that WS is a band with a strong passion for the true heavy metal and we do nothing if we don’t like it in that moment. We’ve done sacrifices like many other Italian bands to have the chance to play around, in a bad period for heavy metal music. Our only interest is passion and not business! Keep the Metal alive, guys.
Review Gig & Photo by Tony Cannella
You have to give it up for Doro and her band. It doesn’t matter the size of the venue or the size of the audience, one thing you can always be certain of is that the band will give a maximum effort always. You know that if you buy a ticket for a Doro show, you are going to come away having experienced a great performance. Whether it be in front of 80,000 metal maniacs at Wacken or a club size crowd like tonight’s performance at the Webster Theater Underground in Hartford, Connecticut, you won’t be disappointed - and I can safely assume that on this night, no one was. Support came from two very impressive bands. The first of which was the newly signed to Metal Blade Records Ravage from Boston, Massachutess. They performed songs from their impressive debut CD “The End of Tomorrow”. Their style is traditional power metal with thrash elements and it was quite energetic - they even played a cover of the Judas Priest tune “Nightcrawler” that really went down well. They were followed by the all female band Jaded also from Boston. Both bands did such a great job in getting the audience amped up for Doro - I definitely wouldn’t mind checking out either band again some time in the future. Good stuff! After a brief intermission, it was indeed time for the metal queen to take the stage. After a short intro, the band absolutely attacked the stage with opener “I Rule the Ruins”. This is a song that band use quite often to open their shows and it is easy to see why. It is just a great adrenaline fueled number that always manages to set the right atmosphere. The band followed that up with an energetic version of the classic Warlock track “Burning the Witches” which of course went down awesome with the fans in attendance singing word-for-word. “You’re My Family” from the underrated “Warrior Soul” was next and this song has the potential to be a fan favorite for a long, long time to come and a staple of her live sets, judging by the overwhelming reaction of the audience. From there the classics kept coming in the form of “True as Steel” and “Fight for Rock” with “Night of the Warlock” from the great new release “Fear No Evil” sand-witched in between.
“Celebrate” - another new one - really got the audience going and this is another one that has the potential to be a crowd favorite. The set list featured a pretty good cross section of material from Doro’s career, like “Unholy Love” and the guitar driven classic “Metal Racer”. Other songs that were played, “We Are the Metalheads” (the official Wacken theme), “Breaking the Law” before the classic “All We Are” closed the main set and is always a highlight for any Doro performance. The band returned to the stage for the encores “Earthshaker Rock” and “Hellbound”, before bidding us good night for the final time. Long time members Nick Douglas (bass) and Johnny Dee (drums) are always reliable - they always give solid, energetic performances and are a perfect compliment to Doro’s powerful vocals. For this tour, the band is completed by two new members: Harrison Young (keyboards) and ex-After Forever guitarist Bas Maas, both proved to be great additions to the line-up. After having seen the band perform live many times, I am always amazed at the sheer ferocity the band exhibits, at each performance. They really do own the stage and it doesn’t matter - big crowd or small crowd - the audience is always going to be entertained. At this point Doro and band are such a potent live machine that I would put them up against just about any other band or artist. That’s a debate for another time, but one thing is for certain - on this night, Doro rocked the hell out of Hartford.
Interview by Robin Stryker
Amanda, a warm hello to you and a belly-rub to Blitz! Thank you for returning to Femme Metal for Somerville Part Deux.
Thanks so much! It’s nice of you to have me, and Blitz is pleased, as well.
We are thoroughly smitten with “Kiske - Somerville”, your new album with Michael Kiske. Duet albums are rare creatures in the world of metal. Who was the mastermind behind the idea of recording an entire album of duets?
Why, thank you; so am I! It was actually Serafino’s (of Frontiers Records) idea. It seems that Michael has the boss of a record company as a huge fan and a musician couldn’t wish for anything better, I suppose!
When and how did you first learn about the project? What was your reaction?
It was sometime in the spring of last year, I believe. Mat Sinner called and asked if I’d be interested in doing a duet album with Michael Kiske and I was very flattered that I was on their list of prospective singers. I thought it would be great to finally be able to work and sing directly with Michael after a long time of kind of indirectly working with him on projects like Aina and Avantasia, so I was thrilled!
“Kiske/Somerville” has a stellar line-up of musicians. My doodle of who worked with whom and on what projects ended up looking like a diagram for a microchip. Would you introduce your cohorts, and tell us which of the gentlemen you have collaborated with before?
Certainly! Mat Sinner (Sinner, Primal Fear) was the creative mastermind behind the project as the producer and principal songwriter. I’d never worked with him before, but it was really a great experience because he’s very competent as a musician/producer/songwriter but he’s also a very laid back, nice guy. After we did the recordings, it went so well that he asked if I’d like to go on tour with him with another project he was overseeing called Rock Meets Classic and that was also a lot of fun.
Magnus Karlsson (Starbreaker, Primal Fear) did some great guitar work and songwriting for the album, as well. I’d never worked with him before this and haven’t had the chance to meet him in person yet, but I’m sure I will.
Jimmy Kresic (Voodoo Circle) co-wrote some songs and performed keyboards and did an excellent job. This guy is a freak, and I mean that very positively!! He was on the Rock Meets Classic tour with Matt and me and totally blows me away as a musician and as a person. He’s quite the character!
Martin Schmidt is a great drummer and all-around good person. It was in his studio that we recorded my vocals for the record and he did the engineering. He was also on the Rock Meets Classic tour and we had a blast together.
Sander Gommans and I had worked together already back in his After Forever days and he and I also did the HDK project together. We wrote 3 songs for the album and he also played some guitar parts on the project. He’s also quite a talented guy and has become an even better musician and songwriter since I first started working with him back in 2003.
Was this your first time working with Frontiers Records? Was it a good experience?
It wasn’t really my first time because I’d helped Oliver Hartmann out with a few things for his albums while he was still signed with Frontiers, though it was my first time being really involved with them. And yes, it’s been a very good experience.
Mat was originally slated to write the entire album but you and Sander ultimately wrote three of the tracks – “Arise”, “A Thousand Suns” and “Set Afire”. How did the switch come about?
After Mat had asked me to be a part of the project and sent me some songs, which I liked, I called him back to ask if there was any room for getting involved in the creative side of the music. He said they were open to ideas, so Sander and I got busy and wrote 4 songs for the album initially but one was too heavy on the metal side, so 3 made it onto the album, which is cool. I’m just as much a songwriter as I am a singer, so it was really great that I was able to add to the creative side of things on this album, as well. It makes my connection with the project even closer and more personal and it’s like my baby, too. :-)
Considering that you all live in different cities, what was the song writing and recording process like?
Well, I’m not sure how Mat, Magnus and Jimmy went about their songwriting and recording exactly but nowadays with the internet, it’s so much easier to collaborate from afar. I like to do my songwriting one on one, if at all possible, so Sander and I wrote and recorded the songs we did in his studio (Eternia) together in the Netherlands. Michael recorded his vocals in his own studio in Hamburg and I recorded with Mat and Martin in Martin’s Audiospezialist studio in Stuttgart.
A quick detour before getting back to the music. I laughed myself silly reading your recent twitter post: “You know you’ve made it when girls are taking their clothes off to your music. Yep. Strip clubs are playing my songs.” In your wildest imagination, did you ever think your music would be the soundtrack for the thong-and-stiletto set? As a public service to, errrmmm, stimulate the global economy, are there any particular tracks that really make those dollar bills and Euro notes fly?
Haha!!! I’d never really given it much thought, to be honest, although I always could picture “Get Me” in a movie soundtrack set to some sexy club scene. Once a couple years ago, a woman who gives lessons on how to strip actually asked me if she could use that song in an instructional video she was making, so that was already the start of it. Apparently, “Get Me”, “Inner Whore” (surprise on that one, eh? ;-) and “Out” are favorite choices.
The other completely random thing that caught my eye was the jingle you wrote and recorded for a swine flu vaccine. What was your inspiration while writing the song – rashers of bacon, piles of pork chops, endlessly watching the movie Babe? And where, oh where, can we get a hold of it?
Oh, man, this is funny! Yes, it was truly one of the weirdest things I’ve done in my career, but I still think it’s so cool. I mean, it was for a vaccine against this sickness that caused diarrhea in pigs and the ad campaign had a huge pic of a little pink pig butt. How hilarious is that? I’m extremely silly, so I didn’t really need any big preparation for writing this but I’ll tell you what: it was the hardest singing job I had because I could not stop giggling while I was singing! And seriously - you cannot sing well when you’re laughing. As far as where you could find it, I really don’t know. Only my family (it was a huge hit with my nieces) and the company I did it for have it. Perhaps that’ll be a Somerville Rarity that I’ll include in some compilation at some point!
Okay, back to more serious things. The first single “Silence” and its music video were released on 20 August 2010. Why was this song chosen to introduce fans to “Kiske/Somerville”?
I think it’s a great song but it’s also a good “middle road” pick to sum up what people can expect from the album. It’s one of my favorites that I didn’t write.It was interesting to read that, despite having worked on albums together previously, you and Michael met for the first time while shooting the videos for “Silence” and “If I Had a Wish”. How was it to finally meet him in person?
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
Bare Infinity is a band from Greece. The band was founded in 2003 by Tomas (guitars and clear vocals) and former singer Christiana. The band was working on a debut album in 2004 but had to cancel that due to “a number of unfortunate events and Alex’s decision to leave the band” (Alex was the bass player). They found a new bass player, Sverd and did some gigs in Greece and Italy. In 2008 Bare Infinity once again started with the recording of their debut album, “Always Forever” but replaced singer Christiana with Angel.
Did you always want to become a singer?
First of all, I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to reveal more things about Bare Infinity and myself. I have always wanted to be a singer as long as I can remember myself. I started singing when I was 2 or 3 and it simply became a very important part of my everyday life since then. As time was passing by, singing was turning into something more serious and necessary inside me. Every time I sing, it always has a cathartic feeling…
You use different vocal styles on Bare Infinity’s debut album. Is it easy to do this because most singers (male and female) have just one style.
Yes, it is a fact that most singers have one vocal style and, most of the times, this is what makes them recognizable. I choose to use different styles, because I like to experiment and be flexible between different music styles and sounds. I believe it’s interesting. It’s not always easy to have the perfect result, but this is the point where exercise and hard work come.
Did you follow any singing lessons?
I have never taken any singing lessons, although I’d love to. I am a self - taught musician and I have developed my voice slowly - slowly through the years following my instinct, listening and studying on other artists whom I admire. Some of them have been the main influence and inspiration for me even until now.
To what kind of music do you listen yourself?
I like the kind of music that makes my imagination soar. It can be any genre. Of course, I love metal, but my heart feels pleasure equally with folk, orchestral, blues, reggae or trip - hop. It’s not always easy for me to differ one kind from the other, I just know what inspires me. I am more of an audiovisual person, so I have plenty visions in my mind when I listen to music. That makes my musical preferences so important to me.
And is it difficult to combine Bare Infinity with your personal life?
When I took the decision to participate in the auditions that the band had announced in order to find a new singer, I said to myself that, come what may, I will keep a balance between the things I love. My personal life has duties as well as my band, so it doesn’t matter if it’s difficult or not, I know I just have to keep the balance. And last but not least, fortunately, my loved ones are very understanding.
Is Bare Infinity your first band are you active in any other bands now besides Bare Infinity?
I was active as a singer before I join Bare Infinity, so it’s not the first time I am a part of a band. In the past, I had joined several bands that they were playing punk, blues and even death metal, where, by the way, it was the very first time I tried the aggressive vocal style. Currently, I spend a great amount of time on Bare Infinity, so I am not a part of any other band.
What is the idea behind the name of the band?
I believe it started from the desire for the music to last, so it begun as Bear Infinity. But later on, it was just changed to Bare Infinity which has a slightly different meaning. In fact, it’s the infinity that overwhelms us all…
And can you introduce us to the other members of Bare Infinity?
The members of Bare Infinity are my musical family, I respect them for who they are and how kind they are with me. First of all, there is Tomas, the father of this band and main person who inspired and composed the music to begin with. He plays the guitar and he is a self - taught musician too. Then, there’s George, the drummer, who adds the strong rhythm to our songs, along with Vincent, who stands behind the keyboards and Sverd who plays the bass guitar.
And why did you wanted to become the singer of Bare Infinity?
The truth is that during the last years, I didn’t have the chance to be in a band that plays symphonic, power metal or even has the need of clean female vocals, which is what I’ve always been looking for. I had heard about Bare Infinity and their music before I meet them and, when I was informed about their audition, I had no choice but to rush straight to Athens. Their music is the music I’ve always wanted to sing. Now, I am a part of this band and I am more than happy!
I guess most songs were written for Christiana. Was it necessary to adapt the songs to your voice and your style?
Well, I think that it was necessary to adapt the songs to my voice and style, because I am a different singer, but this does not mean that I was tempting to change them. The songs had to keep their initial originality and mood, so I respected that. What I did was to add some drops of my musical personality to show a little bit of the new sound of Bare Infinity without disturbing the feeling.
Since you joined Bare Infinity in 2008, what was your part in the song writing?
When I joined the band, in November of 2008, most of the songs had already been written, so, initially, I was expecting my role to be just to perform the songs. Happily, one day, my bandmates presented to me two songs without vocal lines added. It was my time to add my sound and ideas and participate in the composition of the songs by adding melodies for the voice. I worked on them and they are the songs “The Crying Shore” and “Serenity”.
What makes Bare Infinity different compared to all the other bands in the genre?
I think the fact that all of us come from different musical backgrounds gives us an advantage. For instance Vincent is into Industrial music and has his own project in this genre. His influences that he brings to the bands sound are more electronical. George is into more extreme metal such as grindcore and other. So, when the time comes to compose music each of us adds a little from these influences and the final result is different. It doesn’t follow some classic song writing technique for songs. Part by part the songs evolve and get written and personally I think the end result always sounds different than other bands songs and kinda gives us our own special touch to the music. There have been some people that have noted that some songs sound influenced by bands of our genre , however at the time “Always Forever” was written I believe the bands influencing Tomas were quite different to what one might expect.
And how would you describe Bare Infinity’s music?
Bare Infinity’s music is symphonic, but powerful with some gothic elements entering the gates along with melancholy, which takes over sometimes, and some epic parts. Its a mix of Feelings and circumstances both lyrically and musically. I don’t think I can label the music yet. As we play together we evolve and we have so many ideas, so its hard to say .
Can you tell us something about the songs on the album?
I feel that each song in this album has its own personality and that’s the reason why there are so many emotions coming out. Most of the songs have a depressive feeling by talking about lost loves, lives and even souls, such as “Bear Infinity”, but you can also find songs filled with hate and revenge, like “Here I Come”. Plus, there are some songs that have a narrative character and the mood of something eerie, like “The Crying Shore” for example. There are fluctuations from song to song.
What are the highlights for you in Bare Infinity so far?
First of all, from my side, the main highlight is entering this band! After that, I think that every live appearance is a magic moment, because it’s a very strong experience for me. And for sure, the people are one of the highlights! In brief, they are all the things we live for; the composition of the songs, the performance, the recording session, the festivals, all these highlights. And the list goes on…
And what are your favourite songs on the album?
I like songs with strong pulse. My favourites are: “The Crying Shore”, “Serenity”, “Always Forever Part II” and “This Silence”. Some of them are epic, some of them are mysterious, that’s the reason I love these songs.
The album was released some time ago. How did the media, and more important, the fans react on the new album?
Mainly, we have received, both from the media and the fans, many positive reviews about the album, which is a fact that makes me very happy. The greatest thing of all is the enthusiasm of the fans. We receive very encouraging and positive comments every day about our music and this is another reason we want to go one step further in the future. The welcome of “Always Forever” was the warmest ever!
Bare Infinity will do a small tour in Finland. Does the band have other plans for a tour?
We have just returned home from this great experience! Our suitcases are full with precious memories. As for other plans for a tour, we’re thinking about it, but first everything has to be arranged. So far the only thing we can say is that we are gonna be playing at next year’s edition of the Metal Female Voices Festival 8 in Belgium. All I know is that we want to play again…madly.
And what else can we expect from the band in the future?
I think the best thing to expect is a new album. Although is too early to tell, I feel that a new release in the future would show another side of our music and abilities. The members of Bare Infinity have changed; our mood is different, our point of view is more mature and there is more music to be revealed after all. Another thing to happen is more shows, in Greece and abroad. After out tour we have made a lot of friends and partnerships that will be announced soon, so I can say that there will be a lot of activity within 2010.
And, the last question, is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
I’d like to say that everything we do is from the bottom of our hearts and with respect for every fan and listener. Our purpose is to spread the music. Thank you once again.
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!
Review by Tony Cannella
The 6-member Swedish symphonic metal band first formed in 2005 by keyboardist Timo Hautamaki. They released their debut in 2010 and after being joined by new vocalist Frida Eurenius has just issued their second album “A Loss Made Forever”. At only 31-minutes long, this is one of those albums that falls somewhere between a full-length and an EP. Being that it is so short, there is very little wasted time and the band makes every note count. Starting with the obligatory symphonic intro, “Ascension”, Lapis Lazuli then segues into the first proper song “A Loss Made Forever”. This is mostly a mid-tempo Nightwish style number and a good way to begin things. This is one of the strongest tracks in my opinion, thanks to its dramatic nature and big, sweeping symphony style arrangements. New vocalist Frida Eurenius has a cool voice and was an excellent choice of singers, she handles the majority of the vocals but is joined by male singers at certain points throughout the CD. “The Silence” is up next and continues in the same vein as the previous song. Once again Frida’s vocals are impressive, as is the overall musicianship and writing. “Home” is next and has an accessible quality to it. “Serpent (Black Sun)” begins with a heavy straight forward guitar riff as the male vocalist begins the song before being joined by Frida to create a cool duet. Musically, this is the most stripped down song, where the symphonic elements take a back seat. For the next song “When Dreams Collide”, Lapis Lazuli brings back the symphonic style, full force. The male vocals certainly don’t detract from anything; they are mostly delivered in a normal metal or Gothic style with the only exception being the final song “Dragged Into Shade” where they get a little more aggressive and growly. Lapis Lazuli’s “A Loss Made Forever” chooses a musical direction and pretty much doesn’t venture off course. Overall, I really liked this album, actually more than when I first heard it. It has really continued to grow on me and has me hungry for more from this Swedish band. Hopefully next time it will be longer than 31-minutes long.
Rating - 88/100
Review by Tony Cannella
Winter in Eden are a Gothic/Symphonic metal band from the UK. They released their debut EP, “At the Edge of the World” in 2009. Only three songs appeared on that disc and all three can be found on their just released full-length debut, “Awakening”. The first thing that really impressed me about Winter in Eden, is their big symphonic metal sound that is prevalent on “Awakening”. Also it is the excellent songwriting and musicianship that the band displays. The lead vocals performed by Vicky Johnson are quite impressive as well. Her vocals are clean sounding, but not operatic, yet she still exhibits a power, grace and range to her voice that really helps drive the songs. From the opening, pumping track “Oblivion” to the complex and conceptual closing duo of “The Awakening Chapter One: Introspection” and “The Awakening Chapter Two: Unspoken”, there is a lot to keep the listener entertained. Other highlights include: “Inside”, “Fate Will Oblige”, “Stolen Fairytale”, the Celtic tinged instrumental “Windelfell” and my favorite, “Alighieri”. What you get on “Awakening” is 52-minutes worth of high quality and high caliber melodic metal. Fans of Within Temptation, After Forever and Sinergy should grow to love Winter in Eden. It is surprising to me that Winter in Eden have not been scooped up by some label yet. After listening to “Awakening”, I’m sure it is only a matter of time.
Rating - 85/100
Label : Nuclear Blast Records
Review by Tony Cannella
Many were absolutely blind-sided when it was announced that the legendary, long running Dutch band After Forever had decided to call it a day, especially because their self-titled final album saw the band at the top of their game. Now, AF fans can rejoice, because singer Floor Jansen is back with her new project, ReVamp. This new musical endeavor sees Floor picking right up where her previous outfit left off, while adding new and different elements to keep things progressing at a steady pace. ReVamp has many of the same bombastically, symphonic vibes that After Forever had. Floor sings better than ever and on this debut she is joined by three different male vocals to add their talents. The CD begin on a seriously ferocious note from the opening riff of “Here’s My Hell”. This is just a heavy, go-for-the-throat opener that sees ex-Orphanage grunter George Oosthoek adding some vocals to the track. This song also features a huge After Forever like chorus. If there were any doubts concerning Floor’s post AF career, they were quickly erased after hearing this stormer of an opening track. The next track, “Head Up High” slows the tempo a bit whilst not sacrificing any bombast or melody. The third track, “Sweet Curse” is a duet with Floor and Symphony X frontman, Russel Allen. This is a beautiful duet with the two great vocalists and one of the highlights, for sure. There is plenty of variety to be found on ReVamp, which is a huge strength for the CD. Other highlights include: the melodic, “Million”, “Disdain” (featuring Bjorn Strid from Soilwork on vocals), “The Trial of Monsters”, “Under My Skin” and “I Lost Myself”. But honestly, it’s all pretty solid. I am a little bit biased, because quite simply Floor Jansen is one of my favorite singers, and the debut album by ReVamp does not disappoint, not for a minute. ReVamp is an inspired release from start-to-finish. A great album that fans of After Forever and symphonic power metal should love. Welcome back Floor!
Rating - 95/100
Label : Frontiers Records
Review by Tony Cannella
“Kiske/Somerville” is the long awaited collaboration between (ex-Helloween vocalist) Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville. When two ultra talented singers come together it has the potential to be obviously very good. I’m happy to say that Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville have hit a bull’s-eye. First of all, Michael Kiske has always been one of my favorite singers and to pair him with such a great female voice, like Amanda Somerville, is a “can’t miss” event. The songs run the gamut of blazing, guitar oriented hard rock, to symphonic rock, to some truly, melodic and catchy numbers. The opening song, “Nothing Left to Say” even has a “Keepers…” era Helloween vibe to it and gets the CD off to a great beginning. “Silence” follows that up and is the video track for the CD. “A Thousand Suns” is a great mid-tempo, ballad track that sees both Kiske and Somerville singing their hearts out. “Rain” is a bouncy up-tempo number. On this 12-song, 53-minute release, the vocals are split pretty evenly between the two singers as they duet on all of the songs. Other highlights include: “If I Had a Wish”, “Arise”, “End of the Road” and “Devil in Her Heart”. You cannot discount the contributions of some of the other musicians, who helped in the creation of this CD, people like Mat Sinner of Primal Fear, Magnus Karlsson and ex-After Forever guitarist Sander Gommans. On “Kiske/Somerville” two great singers have come together to create an excellent piece of work. It remains to be seen if this just a one off, or we will see more music from this duo. Whatever the case, if this is just a one shot deal, “Kiske/Somerville” has left us with a pretty good album. The song writing, musicianship and vocals are inspired all the way through!
Rating – 90/100