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Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
What I’m publishing here it’s a true gem. Nether myself I never heard of this Russian band called Maleficium Arungquilta, I have had the pleasure to know them through Vard that runs a specific Facebook group dedicated to Russian/CIS female fronted bands. Moving forward about Maleficium Arungquilta we can say that what Vard has reviewed here is the second album called “Касание Сквозь Стекло” (“Kasaniye Skvoz’ Steklo” – “Touch Through the Glass”) that was self released on 2011. MA calls its musical offer Sympho Gothic Darkwave and the particularity of this band that in their ranks we can found 2 female singers : Lisa Karkina (the lead that recently has left the band) and Yana Lindarskaya (the backing). A quote from the review : “The strength of this arungquilta’s musical maleficium centers mainly around two great assets: 1) their ability to create haunting, and very powerful and beautiful melancholic melodies and 2) the quality and ability of the band’s vocalists, particularly the lead vocalist, Lisa Karkina. […] She also sings with an emotion that lies beneath her exquisite vocal control but is still very much there – a calm outer surface that still gives away just enough to reveal, or allows one to sense the turmoil underneath. It is very effective, especially when the vocal melodies she delivers are such as they are. To add to her normal voice, she also possesses a powerful operatic voice that would put most operatic singers in metal to shame, and thanks to the band’s exceptional songwriting skills, they are used wisely.” So, if you love musical experiments, haunting and beautiful melancholic melodies and operatic vocals, what are you expecting for to read this review @ (via Maleficium Arungquilta – “Касание Сквозь Стекло” (“Kasaniye Skvoz’ Steklo” – “Touch Through the Glass”) (2011) « Femme Metal Webzine)
Interview by Miriam C.
If the first interview was a sort of an exclusive, the second one is a confirmation of what’s happened and to get some updates. So in the first episode we left you with an establishment of a label, now we see the album officially released… well, you want to know how the tale ends (or what’s the next projects) just read the interview below with the factotum Tom Simonsen.
Hi Tom, first of all thanks again for this interview and sorry for the delay. As promised time ago, I’m here to asking you the last updates about Omit. For the rest how are you??
Thank you, Miriam! I’m doing great! I hope you are doing fantastic! And don’t worry about the delay. We didn’t have time to write down our answers until now. Better late than never, hopefully. And, as you know, we’ve been working quite a lot on promoting the release of the new Havnatt EP. We’re also quite busy writing and recording new Havnatt material, at the moment, for what’s going to become a full length album. Maybe this new album will see its release this year. Right now, it’s a bit too early to tell, but we certainly hope to be able to release it that soon.
We left us with the upcoming release of Omit and the project of a indipendent/self managed label and for what I see you manage to accomplish both goals. But let’s do a step back, when you have got the idea to create a self managed label? It was like the final solution for publish your music or a way to manage your music as you like it? When have seen that there’s no solution that to found your label?
Well, it wasn’t a last resort. The idea of becoming more independent as musicians has always been lingering in the back of our minds. We just got fed up with the all the evil record contracts we were reading and wasting our time reading. You know, it seems that there is a consensus out there - among all the labels - that when you want to sign a new artist you start the contract negotiation process by showing the artist the bend-over-version of the contract. And If you’re lucky - from the label’s perspective that is - the artist is a real sucker and signs this version of the contract. As a label you now own the artists very name and the rights to everything the artist will ever produce in any context for as long as it’s legally possible. This is what all labels hope for, of course. Otherwise, they would be offering you more decent terms to begin with. They want to rip you off, basically, and it’s obvious if you read these contracts. And that’s a great starting point for a business relationship, don’t you think? And finally, it was this process of getting a reasonable deal for Omit that really pushed us into seriously thinking about starting our own label. We wasted about one whole year trying to reduce the bend-over-factor of various record contracts, but the record companies would not let us own the rights to our own music. And that was it, you know. It was impossible to come to an agreement. And shortly thereafter we started setting up Secret Quarters. At this point we felt that we had wasted enough time and it was about time to just get the music out, you know.
The name that you have chosen for the label is Secret Quarters. Curious name, from where you got the inspiration? You have in project to sing more bands of the same musical field? And if not, why?
I always used the words “secret quarters” to refer to various rehearsal facilities or studios that we’ve been using over the years. It’s sort of become a term for that nondescript location where we make our music. The location isn’t important, you know, it’s the music being made there that’s important. So, why not use those words to name the label as well. You know, in a similar way, the label is just a vehicle through which the music is being made available.
Since I’m really curious and forgive me for this but I would like to know what’s behind a CD and its costs? I’m meaning the press and things like that. When a band decide to self publish an album what’s the costs that have to burden?
Well, I really don’t want to go into too many details of the cost of our own productions. But we are very fortunate, as we’re able to do almost everything ourselves. And we keep the costs relatively low that way. We own our own studio equipment, we have several locations - or “secret quarters” - where music can be rehearsed and recorded, and we do all the recording, mixing and mastering ourselves. If you have to pay by the hour in a hired studio the costs run high very quickly. And the costs for doing the mastering can be really silly, to be honest. That whole thing has become very overpriced. And then there’s the hiring of other musicians, like we did for the “Repose” album. It too has a cost, of course. And so has the printing, pressing and manufacturing of the physical product - CDs or vinyl or what have you. Vinyl production in particular can be quite expensive if you want to make a quality product, so we’ve decided to put that off until a later time. Digital distribution, however, has almost no costs associated with it, except for the fees that go to iTunes, CD Baby, Spotify or any of those other ones, but that’s more on a sale-by-sale basis. So, basically, if you do everything or almost everything yourself, then releasing your own recordings doesn’t have to cost so much. If you go for a digital distribution only kind-of-a-deal then the costs are very low indeed. If you’re not put off by the increase in paperwork, by the fact that you have to make sure that the releases get promoted or by the business stuff you have to deal with, then I would recommend going DIY to any musician. You don’t have to deal with evil labels or record company people. In the DIY musician’s case, the record label is the musician, and the record label really only exists in people’s imagination..
After this 2 questions about your genesis’s label now I want to focus on Omit. How it was the media reception, I mean did the press liked the album?
The press seemed to like it. The number of positive reviews was almost a bit overwhelming.
Back in the last interview I’ve noticed reading now that I’ve forgotten to ask you, a curiosity of mine about the title,“Repose”, is connected with the lyrics inside or you feel it’s the right word for the platter? Just your opinion….
I think the name just sets the right mood for the album as a whole, you know.
Also we must update the infos about your other projects. Any updates to add for Havnatt and Vagrant God? And we must not to forget Skumring, Glade, Dooms Vain and Vali…
Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about almost every project that you mentioned there. And we’ll do it in the order you that mentioned them. Regarding Havnatt: Great to finally be able to properly release the “Havdøgn” EP. I think a half hour of music is a very, very good EP length, and the material deserved to get the proper release treatment and become available to everyone in better audio quality than previously. Now, we’re working on the follow-up release. This time it’s a full length album. How long it will end up being is still too soon to tell. And regarding Vagrant God: The long, long overdue release of the Vagrant God album will be happening this year. And regarding Skumring: We’re still waiting for Vàli to get all the writing done for his new album. He has told us that he doesn’t want to work on two albums simultaneously. And we respect that. We’ve got plenty of other things to do, so we’re not waiting idly for him, you know. And then there’s Glade: Well. Glade was an experiment and we uploaded some preliminary drafts and mixes to the web. We’ve done various other experiments too, that have never made it to the web. Glade was just one of those who did. There are others out there also, that you may try to find, if you’re able. However, regarding Glade, I don’t think there will be any new music written for Glade. You never know, of course, but I seriously doubt it. And finally there’s Vàli: Vàli started writing music for his upcoming album many, many years ago. I took on the job of recording and producing this album about three years ago, now. At that point recordings had already been made in a different studio. We basically started by throwing all those old recordings out and starting again from scratch. After that, we’ve had lots and lots of sessions in the Secret Quarters studio, but I would almost go so far as to say that none of the tracks have been completed this far. He’s still writing new stuff and putting new stuff in. So, at this point there’s no telling. It’ll be done when it’s done, I suppose.
Kjetil, in a recent interview, stated (and I quoth) about a second Omit album “We will eventually begin the writing process for our sophomore album, which is probably taking a more neo-classical turn. We shall see”. In my order of ideas, if Omit should write a neoclassical album should create another different music project for not “confuse” the music genre, hahaha. Back to be serious, I think it’s a great idea, I love neoclassical music and I’m really really looking forward to this album. How you are approching to the writing of this second Omit release?
To be honest, we don’t really have a defined approach or a method that we use in order to make music. It just happens the way it has to. We write what we want when we want, and eventually the music comes together to form “an album”. Our way of writing metal or guitar-based music may differ a bit from how I can imagine that other metal bands come up with their stuff. We don’t necessarily start with the typical guitar riffs and build things around those.
Now speaking of priorities, what’s next?
Next we’re going to write more music! That’s the focus for me, anyway.)
Never thought to play some gigs? Or book a complete tour?
The focus right now is on writing, recording and releasing new music. Rehearsing and gigging just takes a lot of time away from that, and sometimes it costs a lot more than what you get in return. It just isn’t a priority right now. With Omit, especially, it would be a rather huge undertaking. We don’t really want to put any of the instruments on playback, and we really don’t want to cut down on the arrangements too much. To make it work we’d have to be roughly 15 people on stage, preferably more than that. We wouldn’t really be able to perform on the smaller club stages with a band like that. And that makes putting a tour together rather difficult.
For the moment that’s it, I really thank you again for the avalaibility, it really means a lot for me. I think we will speak soon for Havnatt. Lots of love and the best. Again thanks.
Thanks, Miriam! Always a pleasure.
Interview by Si Smith
From the gothic wastes of Québec, Canada, come a band determind to put some melancholy back in your day - Endless Night cite some of their inspirations as “traumas, suffering, murder and mourning”. Yet one listen to their debut CD “Haunted Lullabies” shows that not all is doom and gloom. There are also some hefty guitar riffs on here and some meaty solos. So what is it that drives Endless Night? I spoke to vocalist and keyboardist Emi to find out…
Firstly, thanks very much for the interview and a warm welcome from all at Femme Metal.
I also want to thank you! It’s an honor to be interviewed by Femme Metal!
Endless Night is a four-piece at present. It can’t be helped noticing however that a lot of the publicity focuses on you - how have you found it stepping into the role of front-person for the band? Is it a role that comes naturally to you?
First of all, I entered the band as a keyboardist. I had no idea I was about to become a frontwoman! But it soon became evident: we needed one. So I decided to give it a try. Since then, I have never stopped loving it! In everyday life, I am calm and introverted but with Endless Night I express myself and rock on! It’s because music is very much like storytelling; and I’ve got a story to tell.
As this is your debut release, many of our readers may not yet be aware of you. Would you like to introduce your fellow band-members to us, and maybe tell us how they all contribute to Endless Night?
Wared is the guitarist. He is the strength in Endless Night’s sound: pure emotions, no futile detours. He pays a huge attention to his sound. He is an excellent organizer and views the band not only as a member, but also with a manager’s eye. Franky is a self-taught bassist. He brings to us an energized and fierce sound. For him, Endless Night is not only about expressing suffering and darkness, it’s also an undeniable effort to bring his passion and music to a higher level. The drummer, Jay, is the most recent member of the band. He’s a well-grown musician we can always count on. He’s been studying his instrument for a long time now and knows how to bring a catchy melody to life. And as the signer, I am the member who is the most in touch with the band’s concepts and moods. Everyone takes part in the songwriting process, but I am the only lyrics writer.
The band was formed “officially” in 2008 with you on vocals and piano. How do you manage to put your all into the vocal performance when you are also the musician at the piano? Does it pose problems live?
I have learned the piano for more than eleven years now, so I am able to coordinate my hands with my voice without any problems. It just takes a little practice. But I don’t find it interesting to see a front person locked behind the keyboard, so we have most of the pianos and choirs on playback. I like to move on stage!
You managed to get a track featured on the World of Glass compilation. In what ways did that help you?
It gives us visibility in a different context than MySpace or Facebook. Because it is an all women-fronted metal bands compilation, our music can be listened to by people who have more chance of loving it but would have maybe not find us without this. It also gave us some contacts with very great people we are very thankful to, Raquel Senra, for instance.
Your debut CD is self-financed, something that is becoming more popular these days. If you don’t mind me asking, what was the most expensive part of the process (just to warn any up and coming bands that might be heading that way) ? What were the main advantages or drawbacks of doing things this way?
The most expensive part of the process were the recording sessions. The main advantage was our independence: we had the choice to do whatever we wanted to with our sound. Obviously, the main drawback is the production’s cost.
On your Facebook page you quote contrasting bands such as Evanescence and Rammstein as some of your influences. In what way do other bands such as these influence your sound?
We draw inspiration form a great variety of bands, because every member of Endless Night has different influences. However, some of these influences are common. These show in subtle ways, sometimes in the musicality of the melodies, in the drum lines, in the “catchiness” of the guitar riffs, or in the visual aspect.
Across the album you seem to have a preference for the lower register in your vocals. How do you think that assists in conveying some of the emotion of the songs?
This low register gives a heavy mood to the songs. It can express anger or sadness. However, since the album recording, my voice has evolved a lot, as has my higher register. But even in high notes, my voice is never crystal-clear, it always keeps a deep, round sound; I’m a mezzo-soprano.
“Hear This Now” is one of your heavier songs. What is it you would like us to hear in this song?
It talks about unhealthy habits that we all have that make our world worse than it should be; that make our world darker and darker, but also, this is one of our songs that, as of today, has been rethought a little bit to be more catchy to make a stronger contrast with the lyrics.
Like many bands before you, you have included a ballad on the album, “Burial (for My Mortician)”. As this is mostly you and the piano, does this song have any particular personal meaning for you?
Yes, it is the first song I entirely wrote the musical parts and the lyrics, as all my lyrics, have a deep meaning. They are basically a story of lost friendship.
As the album is quite a melancholy offering, how would you hope that a listener would feel after listening to your album?
We wish that the listener would enter into our mood and musical environment but not necessarily feel depressed: we only wish the listener to find himself and to travel in our music, so that he lives the story we tell in each song.
Bands often develop and mature as they produce more albums. How would you envisage Endless Night developing by the time of your next release?
Our next release will be less eclectic; it will have a more defined sound. We worked very hard on defining what we want to stand out in our music and in which way we want to tell our stories, but now, I think we have found it. A heavier sound with more catchy vocal lines, less experimental structures and powerful, but not overloaded drum lines is where we have headed.
The band has stated that its intention is “Établir un contraste entre l’enfance et l’horreur, la nuit”…how do you think this album fulfils that?
Lyrically, most of the songs fulfil this goal, for instance, “Trauma”, “Winter Cloak”, “Childhood Prejudice”. Musically, it’s the combination of soft piano melodies with more heavy guitars that brings us there.
I went on to Pixule.com where fans can vote for their favourite band on CD3 of the World of Glass compilation. (of course I voted for you…) The results so far is that you are third from the top!! Far above more “well-established” bands such as Pythia, Echoterra and Ancient Bards, who only managed to scrape 1% of the vote each. How does that make you feel?
Thanks for voting for us! We are pleased to see these results! It shows that we have wonderful friends and fans. We always try to make strong bonds with them, because the human experience is important for us. As I said before, that music can be about storytelling, but it’s also about giving, and we give all that we can!
One final question before we leave: you are a four-piece, but would you introduce us to the fifth member of the band that we see you holding in your myspace photo?
Haha!! This is a little doll we had for a photoshoot and we thought it showed well the innocence and the sensibility of childhood. However, we don’t have it anymore: it has been replaced by a teddy bear with a blue bow. It is on our album cover and I bring it on stage in every show, it is like our mascot! Haha!!
Thank you once again for your time, and we wish you well in the band’s future!!
Thank’s to YOU!!! I wish long life to Femme Metal!
Interview by Lindz Riot
So many forms for femme metal exist, the most common being in symphonic or heavy metal. But what about straight up metal that just rocks? I’ve been searching high and low and when out at a local show recently I found Canadian rockers Embracing Soul. Fronted by singer Chelsea Pisano and guitarist Brandon Iajecznyk, though this band may be young, they bring the energy and the old school spirit of a metal/rock infusion. Also, it’s just fun and a guilty pleasure to dip back into music that heals and fuels teen angst. Of which, this band brings forth that feeling well and honestly, especially in their recent EP “Shadow”. I (Lindz Riot) was able to catch up with this local act to ask them what Embracing Soul is all about and how it works for them at such an early stage in their musical lives.
Hey guys! I want to thank you both for joining us here at Femme Metal for this interview. First off please tell me about how Embracing Soul came to be?
Thanks for this opportunity! Well, Brandon and I met in 2007 at our high school. Brandon was already in a band playing metal that sounded kind of like Trivium and As I Lay Dying. They broke up at the end of 2008, he joined another band, and we decided to create a side project. We created it because we had all these ideas of what we wanted new metal to sound like. Also because Brandon’s current band was very progressive and he had ideas that didn’t fit into that genre. A bit after we started writing and recording, we recruited a bassist and our guitarist Tom. Brandon was our drummer. Now, we still fight with member changes, and I’ve taken on the role of bassist, but we’ve found steady ground.
Sounds like quite the switch up, but glad to hear its working for you guys now. How would you describe Embracing Souls sound?
We’ve been trying to figure that out! hahaha. So many people tell us different things like our riffs sound like Pantera or Death, our vocals sound like a collaboration between Evanescence and Opeth, and our music sounds like a mix of death metal and melodic metal.
Brandon: It ends up just being a thing that we make, and it sounds cool and we like it.
Chelsea: I just go with ‘gothic, rock/metal’ and hope that works.
You’ve released your first LP “Shadow”, how has the response been?
We always sell more at each show, so it’s going well! It was finished January 2010 so we look at it now and knowing so much more about recording, we’re not as pleased, but we still love all the songs just as much.
So this release was a self-produced effort?
Yes. We produced it, we got the copies made up, and we distribute it at shows. Slow paced, but we have big plans for our next one.
Well congrats! That takes a ton of time and effort. And how have people responded to your live show?
We’ve noticed we get a really good response from the crowd at our shows. We don’t bring a room full of people, but normally once we start playing, the room fills out and the crowd thickens. People have a good time and they tell us afterwards, so we’re happy about it.
From your experience so far how do you feel about the Toronto hard rock and heavy metal scene?
Brandon: It’s terrible.
Chelsea: There’s a lot of good talent in Toronto, our only problem is that we play shows with the wrong group of metal heads. We’ve ended up playing a lot of death core shows and that’s not who we are at all, but that’s the main genre out in Toronto now. The people out here don’t seem to like it live as much if they can’t mosh the entire time or if a whole song isn’t only growling
It is quite a mash up, at least we have good bands tour through, but you are definitely right about local show grouping. With the strong underground Femme Metal movement, do you feel things would be different for Embracing Soul if you were relocated in Europe?
I think we would get a lot more recognition. Even looking at our list of Facebook fans, the more dedicated fans are from European countries. The arts scene and appreciation for women and music, no matter the genre, is also a lot greater there. I think it would be fun to tour there lol
Amen to that! So briefly tell us about your musical training and backgrounds?
Brandon: HA! None. I taught myself guitar and basically everything I know about song writing. I just screw around until it sounds good.
Chelsea: I’ve never taken vocal lessons and I learned all I know about guitar and writing musical compositions from Brandon and I learned bass on my own. Neither of us have taken lessons for anything, nor even have taken music in school. Well, I don’t think the year of Clarinet helped Brandon in high school…
Brandon: No… not at all lol
That certainly is impressive guys. K next question: Top 10 most influential bands for both of you! GO!
Evanescence, Opeth, Korn, Godsmack, Disturbed, Tool, Slayer, In Flames, Trivium, Epica.
Wicked. If you could play with any three bands, who would they be?
Korn, Evanescence and Disturbed.
Outside of the band, what do you guys do in your daily life?
The band is our daily life! Well, not all the time, but when we do break, it’s for school and video games. We do spend a lot of our time just jamming, writing and recording though. It’s what we find fun and what we’re studying in school anyway.
What is it that you two study in school anyways?
Chelsea: I am studying Entertainment Management. This is basically for managing bands or artists, getting to know all the legal aspects of the industry and all the right ways to get bands higher up in the music industry.
Brandon: I study Audio Engineering. Basically I want to record bands in the studio.
You guys seriously sound like a super team of which any band would be jealous of, or well, wish to have. So with all of this being said, what does the future hold for Embracing Soul? Can we expect to hear some new music soon? Any other big plans?
We are currently taking a writing break. With all the stress involved with school, we don’t really have time to practice too much, but we’re always writing. We’ve already started on some new recordings actually. These will just be promotional copies until we get into the studio (which we plan on doing after school). Our song writing is constantly improving, so the songs we’re currently working on, we’re very excited about. So yes, there is a lot to come from Embracing Soul in the next year! We’re looking forward to it.
Label : Independent Release/Revalve Records
Review by Tony Cannella
Pursuing the End is an interesting little band from Italy. In 2011 they released their 4-song 15 ½ minute EP, “Dawn of Expiation”. Now the band returns with a new 3-song, 10 ½ minute single titled “Withering”. There is actually a lot to like about this operatic, symphonic metal band as their debut EP hinted at. “Withering” is mostly a good effort. The male vocals by Giacomo Benamati are clean metal vocals, no screaming or grunt here, they are more along the lines of the male singer from Visions of Atlantis. The angelic sounding female vocals by Caterina Bonfanti are excellent as well. Unfortunately though, in my opinion the female operatic vocals are a little too over-the-top. Others may disagree and find this right up their alley, but I think Pursuing the End would be better served if they toned down the opera elements. That is not to say that there are not parts where it could definitely work.“Overture” starts things off with its orchestral intro setting the stage for “Withering” which starts off with the ultra-operatic vocals when Giacomo takes over and the angelic female vocals come in, these definitely save the song for me. There are a hint of grunt vocals in the background but they are very low in the mix. Musically, “Withering” is a beautiful song that shows that this band is capable of so much more. “A Glimpse of Forbidden” closes out the trio of songs and once again has a lot going for it musically. Thankfully the band relies mostly on the clean male vocals and the angelic female vocals and strong choir-like background vocals. The operatic vocals are utilized but not as much as in the previous song. “Withering” is definitely a step forward from “Dawn of Expiation”, but the operatic vocals are certainly going to be an acquired taste for some, but others may love them and others may be turned off by them. There is no accounting for taste, I guess. Pursuing the End is a good band, but in my opinion could be so much better.
Rating - 75/100
Review by Luisa Mercier
ElfenWald are an Italian duo who delivers us a very interesting self-released debut album. “Part I” blends industrial, ambient and neoclassical music with the dark and beautiful voice of Prinzessin Simhild. Though self-produced, the record does not suffer many flaws and it seems to be well crafted in every detail. The songs shift from German to English and Italian language with an equally effective result. For instance, “Wo Ist Meine Welt” is more industrial-oriented while “Gelide Notti” is closer to neoclassical style with its keyboards and strings, creating a Romantic atmosphere. “Darkness” is a soaring, creepy track, mostly instrumental and only graced by some vocalization of Prinzessin Simhild. “Alone” is the longest song on the album and during its seven minuts it explores various musical landscapes: from neoclassical, to dark cabaret, to a gloomy industrial sound. “Lilith (The Garden of the Damned)” closes “Part I” and it’s a track which showcases a fearsome atmosphere with some choruses all over which surround the beautiful voice of Simhild. Being self-produced, this album is overall a very good release and I hope they’ll soon find a label for their following works!
Rating - 80/100
Phoner interview & trascription by Robin Stryker
Well, this was a new experience … interviewing all five members of a band at the same time by phone. Please join Femme Metal in welcoming the members of Chicago hard rock band, Deadmanswake: Kryssie Ridolfi (vocals), JP Soule (guitar/backing vocals), Josh Barker (guitar), Troll (bass) and Kip Kiebles (drums).
Welcome to Femme Metal everybody! JP, I understand that Deadmanswake did not start out as a female-fronted hard rock band. How did you guys get to where you are today?
JP : Well, I was actually the original vocalist for the band,and that lasted right about until I heard our first recordings, heard my voice and decided I didn’t want to sing anymore. (all laugh) Not as a main vocalist, anyway. I do fine if I’m blending with somebody else, but I just REALLY can’t stand the sound of my own voice. After that, we went through a couple of different guys. At the time, I was kind of going for an In Flames, Dark Tranquillity kind of sound. Then it just really got to the point where screaming ended up sort of feeling like it was gonna be a trend that was eventually going to go away. I didn’t want to be a band that was trapped in one specific era and I also didn’t want to be limited by somebody who didn’t have a strong melodic voice. So we let our screaming vocalist go, and started looking for other people. I wasn’t looking for a female vocalist, but I was definitely open to the possibility. And by the time we ended up working with Kryssie, it was down to her and one other person. I personally was sold from the first audition; the rest of the band, it took a little bit more convincing. She showed up at this other guy’s audition and just smoked him. I was already sold before that point but, by the time she finished that song, it was like “Okay, no one else need apply. We’re done”. That was the song “Screaming in Silence”, which is actually not on any official recordings as of yet but we have played it live a couple of times.
Let’s talk about the new album, “It Comes to This”. Give folks an idea of what they will hear when they listen to your album.
Kryssie: I know vocally all of the songs are lyrically from my heart. I know every vocalist says that. But the reality is, when I joined this band, I was at a really big renaissance (as I like to call it) in my life. I had just lost a two-and-a-half year relationship, I had just gotten my own place. My first audition with this band was the day I signed the lease on my first place by myself, and it was this big rebirth in my life. And all of the songs that I wrote lyrics for were within the first month of being in the band. That’s how emotional I was. Every single one of these songs is either about pain or about being confused about something or a personal loss or a personal gain, and all of that stuff was something I was feeling in the Fall of 2007 when these were written. So it’s very personal to me and I hope that people who hear it really identify and feel connected to me through it because I want people to know and I want to convey that they are not the only ones feeling stuff like that.
I’m fascinated by the album cover. You all are cartoons, with Kryssie as a nurse looking rather alarmed to see over your shoulder the rest of the band as zombies coming after you. What’s up with zombies?
Kryssie : A lot of us are really big fans of the horror genre and the name of the band Deadmanswake… when I first heard the name of the band… all I could think of was the walking dead. A friend of mine is a published comic book artist. I was talking to him one day when he popped into my work — which is ironically a horror collectible store — and he drew this quick little thumbnail sketch. It went through a lot of different incarnations, and the one that we ultimately ended up with I think is absolutely hilarious. I think all the caricatures look exactly like the boys. There are so many ways you can look at it… me being the only one who is not a zombie and everyone coming after me, you could go the cliché way of “oh, I’m a woman in a man’s world and it’s tough to not get eaten alive”. Or you could just go with the fact that we are all big dorks and we all like horror flicks. It’s probably a little bit of both if you want complete honesty.
If you could pick a horror film to have a Deadmanswake song in, or any film for that matter, which song would it be and which film would it go with?
Kryssie : I would choose the song “Back to Blood” and I would put it in “Shaun of the Dead” in the scene where they are beating the zombies with the pool cues in the Winchester. The Queen song, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, the fact that that’s in there is amazing but if I could throw our own in there I would totally put “Back to Blood” at that exact spot.
Kip : Just to stay away from the mainstream, I would have to say “Fright Night” is one of my favourites. Kryssie could probably tell you who stars in it and then some, I’m guessing. As far as the tunes go, I would use all of them on the soundtrack.
Troll : Do you know how “Maximum Overdrive” is an all-AC/DC soundtrack? Replace it with the “It Comes to This” album.
JP : In keeping with the zombie theme, it would probably be “Save Me”. I would use it at the end of the original “Dawn of the Dead”, where the zombies bust into the mall and they are ripping the bikers apart. There are all sorts of guts being pulled out and limbs being chewed. It’s just beautiful!
Quite the bloodthirsty crowd we have here. Guitarists – JP, Josh and Troll – tell us about your most prized instrument. (Keeping it clean, of course.)
Kryssie : My mind went there immediately. (laughs)
I knew it would, Kryssie. That last part was actually for you and not for the boys.
Kryssie: I am seriously a fifth grade boy. I went right there, too. Okay, go on.
JP: This is actually a really easy one for me. Thanks to the miracle of Craigslist, I stumbled across a 2002 Ibanez Destroyer, an actual for real made-in-Japan Ibanez, and I managed to pick it up including the matched Ibanez case for less than $350. The Destroyer just sounds huge. I am one of the world’s greatest living Iron Maiden fans and Adrian Smith played a Destroyer back in the “Live After Death” era. I thought they were the coolest thing and, of course, they are! Plus it has a similar shape to a Gibson Explorer, which was James Hetfield’s weapon of choice, and he was one of the reasons I picked up the guitar in the first place. The Destroyer fills a whole bunch of guitar-hero rock star fantasies of mine.
Josh: To be honest, all of my ideal guitars, I don’t own. Of the ones that I play, the two that I like the most are an LTD Explorer, which I got for fairly cheap when I got it. I was young and stupid and was like, “Oh my god, it looks like an Explorer!”. It was the kind that James Hetfield played. Like JP already said, Hetfield was one of the reasons I picked up the guitar. I use that one pretty much for the bulk of the set. I also have an Ibanez SA that I recently put the new Steve Vai Evolution pickup into, which has improved its sound a whole hell of a lot. I just love Ibanez guitars overall. Ibanez has a pretty sick Flying V that I’d love to get my hands on.
Troll: My Kramer bass is definitely my prize possession. It’s technically the second bass I ever owned, but my first real instrument. I had an old Cort P-Bass copy that was a piece of crap that I broke within two months. Then I got the Kramer in maybe late 1988 or 1989, when I’d only been playing for a few months. I still have it to this day, and the shop that I got it from still exists so I can still go there and get a free set-up whenever I want. That thing has just been through hell and back. It’s my trusty at-home practice bass. I’d love to play it out, but it really doesn’t sound that good. It is priceless to me, though.
Kip, what is it like to be the new kid in the band? Did they make you feel welcome; are you part of the family; are they sharing their beer and all of those things that one would hope of good bandmates?
Kip : They don’t share beer. (Kryssie : We give him wedgies every day). The fact that they beat the hell out of me on a regular basis gives me the feeling that I’m loved, yes. Because that is what I did to my younger brothers, when I was younger. The band has definitely made me feel very at home. It’s kind of difficult to put into words where I am at with this band, but ultimately I’m the metal cheerleader in the band. Saddle shoes, skirt, pom-poms … good to go! There were some benefits that I could offer to the band, like a rehearsal space and a big truck to pull the equipment trailer, but those were just circumstantial. So I guess, when it’s all said and done and the smoke clears, we’re all pretty lucky because they offered me things like a damn good gig that I could be proud of.
Here is something that I’ve been dying to ask. What was it like when you held the first copy of your CD in your hand?
Kryssie : Can I just tell you about the text message conversation Troll and I had when the UPS man was delivering? We had been texting that whole day because the CDs were supposed to show up that day. (It’s common knowledge that, when we are not out doing things, Troll and I especially are huge advocates of pyjamas. We are always in our jammies, no matter what). Troll texted said something about the UPS man. I was like, gasp, “Is he coming?” And he was like, “The bastard just drove by!” I didn’t hear from him and I was getting nervous. Then I got a picture message with just a photograph of all seven boxes of our CDs and I screamed like a little girl … it was amazing! All of us have been musicians for so long. Before I was a vocalist, I used to be a guitar player. I was playing guitars since I was 10, so I’ve been in the “business” for 15 years almost. This is the first actual, physical, honest-to-god, pressed from a factory CD I’ve ever had. This is a HUGE emotional thing for me, and it was nice to show it to my mother and give her a reason why I quit college.
Deadmanswake is having a pyjama party gig. Is this just another excuse for Kryssie and Troll to appear in public in pyjamas?
Kryssie: More or less. It is a CD release for another band, and their frontperson sent me an e-mail and was like,”The theme of this show is freakshow. Take that and run with it, and do what you will.” We were tossing around ideas for playing at a different venue on a different day, and we were like, “Oh, we should show up in our pyjamas.” And then it dawned on me … how funny would that be for the freakshow theme?!? I have a feeling that Troll is going to show up with pigtails and the whole nine yards and I’m digging out a special pair of slippers. It is absolutely another excuse to be seen in my jammies in public.
JP : I’m not totally familiar with everybody in the band’s sleeping habits, so I’m just really hoping that no one in the band sleeps naked.
Kryssie : I’m not totally familiar with everybody in the band’s sleeping habits, so I’m just really hoping that no one in the band sleeps naked.
With as diverse as your musical tastes are, how hard would it be to decide what the cover song would be on a new album?
Kryssie : We’ve actually had pretty good luck — with this incarnation of the band, anyway – we’ve had a really, really easy time picking out covers. We do have diverse influences, but when it comes down to it, if there is some silly, ridiculous deep-cut that one of us mentions that everyone thinks is funny, we go for it. The one that we are talking about putting on the album is one that lots of people on our Facebook page – people that I’ve never met – have mentioned that they would really like to hear us do. It’s kind of cool that if we make that happen, they’ll hear it and be like, “Oh, I suggested that.”
Okay, album is out and you have dates lined up. What is your tour scheduling looking like for the summer? Will you be travelling away from Chicago? Will folks in other parts of the United States and perhaps our friends in Europe have a chance to see you too?
Kryssie : We did an interview last week where we were asked a similar question about whether we would like to get out to Europe. That’s a frustrating question because I would tour there tomorrow if I could afford it. Realistically speaking, if we were able to do it, it would have to wait until next summer. Hopefully by then, we can create enough of a buzz and maybe after our A&R showcase get people who are willing to invest in us to go over there. But that is, realistically, something that we can’t even think about this summer, which really, really is painful. We have got another band that we are hooking up with. None of the dates are set in stone yet, so we are not announcing them. But we are going to have a two-and-a-half week tour towards the end of the summer that will take us from Chicago all the way as far south as Florida, then we are going to come back. It is just going to be a two-and-a-half week run. We definitely are going to make it a point to travel this summer, and get out there. We can’t keep doing all this Internet networking if we can’t put our money where our mouth is and go play in front of people..
Review by Vard Aman
“Ash” (Witchcraft’s 2011 album) was a Progressive Metal masterpiece for me, not just because it was a damn fine Prog Metal concept album but because it incorporated so many other elements into it – it was so much more than standard Prog Metal fare. It was also much darker; and for someone (e.g. me) whose tastes lean rather favourably towards music’s darker side, that was another big plus. Now Witchcraft have a new EP out, “Parallel Worlds”, and with it the band presents an even more experimental package than before, moving into the territory of Dark Experimental Metal rather than Dark Progressive Metal. There are some new sounds; new styles; new effects; some scratching; a guest rapper; and vocalist, Ludmila Angel, tries out a few new and different vocal styles (in addition to her normal hauntingly beautiful melodic vocal style) – most notably an angry semi-sung shout that for some reason made me think “Riot Grrrl” at first, but then I went and listened to a selection of various Riot Grrrl vocal styles on the internet and it sounded nothing like them at all, so I still don’t know what to compare it to. OK, I’ll give it my own name then: I’ll call it Riot Angggl style (as a tribute to the vocalist who has now, as far as I’m concerned, made it her own). Anyway, to call this EP an “interesting and a fascinating listening experience” would be quite an understatement. Yet for all the experimentation it is still unmistakably Witchcraft, so it is a well controlled experiment. In Witchcraft, nothing happens by chance. “Parallel Worlds” consists of 4 songs. Each of the 4 comes with its own artwork and the front cover of the EP is made up of a collage of the 4 together. All the songs are in Russian, thus moving away from the predominantly English trend of their previous releases. First up is “Ваше (7-й Ангел)”. It starts off with some fast and heavy riffing before going into the verses, where Ludmila uses a combination of vocal styles that I can best describe as quirky, mixed with her normal vocal style and with a bit of Riot Angggl thrown in. The chorus is simply amazing! Good luck getting that melody out of your head once it’s stuck there – not that you’d ever want to, trust me on that!
Next is “Шаг Назад” which features Latvian Rapper DragN as a guest vocalist in the verses. He uses a style of Rap known as fast flow, which is a generally more melodic rapping style, but is most often distinguished by the speed of the rapping; often it is an attempt to see how many syllables can be fitted into as short a time as possible without losing clarity and DragN is pretty fast. I don’t really like Rap of any kind, but I have to admit that this is very well done indeed, and Witchcraft have made it work for them. Most of all, the rapped verses provide a sharp contrast to another beautiful and melodic chorus sung by Ludmila. “Дыши со Мной” is the third song, which after a very promising start, turned out to be the weakest of the four songs on the EP for me. The verses are not as contrasting and the chorus is not quite as melodic and catchy as the previous two, but the second half of the song finished off the promising start. It’s still a good song, just not quite as good as the others on the EP. (Having said that, guess which song’s chorus I currently have stuck in my head…).The last song is “Зверь”, perhaps the least “experimental” song on the EP, closer to some of the material from “Ash”. It has a driving rhythm throughout, the verses are sung as duets (with Roman Arsafes of Nevid’?) and the chorus consists of more of Ludmila’s amazing melodies. And with that ends a short, but excellent and captivating EP. Having conquered the world of Dark Progressive Metal, Witchcraft have made it known that they are now moving on to new worlds, and onto to worlds that they are creating themselves where they did not exist before. This EP presents the first taste of some of these new (parallel) worlds, and after listening to it one can’t help but wonder where they will be going or what they will be creating next. I for one am certainly looking forward to finding out. This is, after all, Witchcraft!
Rating - 87/100
Review by Vard Aman
…It seems I didn’t have long to wait for something new from Risha (although to be honest, I wrote the review of their debut album “Leto” some time after it was released in 2011 – in fact, I was busy writing it when they released their single, so I took a little bit of license there). So yes, Risha are back with a new single, called “Dorozhenka”, although it’s more of a maxi-single than a single really, consisting of 3 tracks. With it they continue where they left off from “Leto”, delivering more of their unique and contrasting blend of beautifully melodic Slavic Folk style vocals over heavy Industrial / Industrial Metal music. But their sound is starting to evolve and progress as well. Their sound is generally more layered than it was before and they’ve added extra instruments and sounds to their music and vocalist, Rishafox, makes use of some complex harmonies, and in places experiments with her voice more so than she did on “Leto”. The single itself, “Dorozhenka”, is generally darker and more moody than most of Risha’s other material, although it picks up in the choruses. According to the press release, it is “permeated with the cold of February and anxiety of belated spring” and the song does carry this feeling across (even without having first read the press release). I have noticed that there is a general trend with Risha to allow the seasons and the weather to affect their music, here on this maxi-single and on their debut album, “Leto” (which means “summer”). The vocal melodies are very strong throughout. “Dorozhenka” ranks up there with the best of the songs off “Leto”. “Rechenka”, the second song on the maxi-single, is a traditional Belarusian folk song played in Risha’s unique style, with some guitar riffing reminiscent of early Rammstein. The final song, “Vesna”, is a far more chaotic Industrial orientated song than most of Risha’s other material. The song delivers a mood of “madness and panic” according to the press release, and once again, the description is spot on. If this is a musical depiction of spring (vesna), then it sounds like it’s during a period of spring where the temperature has risen by 30 degrees celcius in just a few days, which does happen on occasion in certain parts of Russia. You can download “Dorozhenka” from Risha’s official website. It’s available for free, but it would be kind of nice if you did give them a little something for their efforts. And now, as I might have mentioned at the end of my review of “Leto”: I’ll be looking forward to their next release with great interest.
Rating - 87/100
Review by Vard Aman
Wizardmask is a recently formed band from Novosibirsk in South Western Siberia, made up of some very accomplished and professional musicians indeed.“Carnival of Illusions” is their debut album, and it is available from their website for free download (though they would be grateful if you gave them something for it; they have certainly earned it). Wizardmask play Dramatic Metal, which is Metal which includes a lot of dramatic elements (I mentioned it when I reviewed Blackthorn) and is not something that is very easy to describe. In the case of Wizardmask the closest I can come to describing what they play is very technical Progressive Symphonic Metal. The songwriting is very detailed and very intricate and very well executed by Wizardmask. Fronting the big symphonic orchestration, the heavy guitars and the technical brilliance of the band is vocalist, Svetlana Sokolova. She has immaculate vocal control and is extremely versatile and expressive – all necessities for Dramatic Metal of this kind, and she suits the role perfectly! “Carnival of Illusions” consists of 9 tracks but because of the technical nature of the music it takes a few listens to get into – there is too much to take in listening to the entire album in one go for the first time.
The result is that after the first listen, I found myself greatly impressed by what I’d heard, but remembered nothing specific at all. Several listens later, I am still greatly impressed by all the technical intricacies of the music (even more so after several listens), but now I have several of the songs firmly stuck in my head. At first listen everything seems to merge because of the way the album and the concept flows, but after several listens the songs begin to stand out well from each other. It’s a bit like looking at a car engine for the first time… OK, let’s rather use a somewhat more appropriate theme: it’s a bit like visiting a Trade Fair in the Forgotten Realms for the first time – you only remember a few things, like where the ale tent is, but after wandering around for some time you soon get to know where everything else is: the stores selling clothes, books, weapons, spells, potions, etc; and the secret entrance to the mage’s dark tower. That is what the music of Wizardmask is like: the more you listen to it, the more you will discover, the better you will get to know it, and the more you will like it and the more you will want to listen to it again. Several songs from “Carnival of Illusions” stand out for me as highlights, although all of the songs are good. They are “Gromoverzhets”; “Sumrachniy Mir”; “Koroleva L’da”; “Karnaval” and “Bashnya”. “Gromoverzhets” is a fast, heavy and powerful track interlaced with beautiful vocal melodies; while “Koroleva L’da” and “Karnaval” are slower, also with amazing vocal melodies. “Bashnya” has everything. The production is top quality – everything has ample space in the mix and all the instruments are crystal clear. “Carnival of Illusions” is the cumulative result of a great effort by a very talented and professional group of people who know what they want to do and know how to do it. That said I can understand how “Carnival of Illusions” might not appeal to everyone, especially after only one listen – this is not a band that uses the “less is more” philosophy. But for fans of the “more is more” philosophy, you need look no further than this – everything you could possible want can be found right here, at the Carnival of Illusions!
Rating - 90/100