INFOS : firstname.lastname@example.org
Webzine dedicated to the metal band fronted by girls. We also like ambient,darkwave,rock & electronic music.
Label : Massacre Records
Review by Danny Robertson
VOD’s press release for “Power Dive” describes them as having a sound somewhere between gothic and symphonic metal, and it’s not wrong; at times sounding like a heavier Nightwish, or during their more restrained moments sounding reminiscent of Within Temptation, but without sounding like a cheap copy of any act within those genres. Their combination of sounds gels together well without sounding forced - the keyboards don’t overpower the rest of the instruments, whilst the guitarwork is especially impressive, epic without being pompous or gratuitous, and Maike’s vocals work well with the instruments rather than relegating them to the background, thus avoiding the pitfalls others within the genre occasionally find themselves in. Tracks such as the title song and “Dedication” show off their more operatic side, whilst standout track “Kami” is a nice demonstration of the band’s range in a single song, with some heavy riffing throughout. Voices of Destiny have delivered a strong second album here, one that should see them win new fans in further territories. If you’re fan of big, bold, unashamedly epic metal, then try this album out!
Rating - 80/100
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!
Label : Curzweyhl
Review by Luisa Mercier
“Arcane” is the fourth Elane release and its music is inspired by the work of Kai Meyer, a German fantasy author that has published more than 50 books since ’90s. Elane and Kai met at a concert in 2006 and both agreed that their books and music could be perfect together, so “Arcane” is inspired by his novels and characters. The themes are present both in music and lyrics so let’s start this journey! “The Gift” is a short atmospheric intro, while in “Heart of the Desert” we get a taste of Joran’s powerful vocals: the production quality is very high; just listen to acoustic guitar, keyboards and percussions. “Samarkand” has a strong Middle - Eastern influence and it marks a new influence in Elane’s work, world music. In “Arcane Ride” you can hear all of the Elane influences combined together: folk and progressive mixed with Joran’s beautiful voice. The transition from a passage to another are smoothly arranged through the use of violin. Similar structure for “Magdalena”, with sultry strings arrangement and choir in the background, one of the highlights of the album. The band does write also in other languages than English and “Wasser und Fels” and “Die Geheime Melodie” are two short example of German-titled instrumentals with tin-whistles, strings and Joran’s vocalise. Cello makes its first appearance in “My Ivory Fairy”, slow folk ballad with rich strings arrangements in the chorus. “Abendruf” is a mysterious song sung in German, while reminiscent of the band old works is the acoustic “Lurlinnlight”. Enriched with flute it sounds sweet and delicate. Another folk-Celtic instrumental follows “Spinnerhaus”, and then the Latin “Deae Noctis” adds a different flavor to the album, being gloomier and heavier, though the strings and Elane typical arrangements are still present. “Dammertal” is another piece in the puzzle of beautiful instrumentals, “Masken” is the only track sung by male vocals. Last song is “Goddess of the Night”, more pop-oriented than the others, but equally good. “Arcane” is definetely a good album which can be enjoyed by folk lovers, but also by people with a different taste in music.
Rating - 85/100
Interview by Robin Stryker
It was my profound pleasure to interview Charlotte Wessels and Martijn Westerholt, the vocalist and founder/keyboardist of Dutch symphonic metal band, Delain. Happily for me, the band was in my hometown of Atlanta for their U.S. debut at ProgPower USA. After fortifying ourselves with some Italian food, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
Charlotte and Martijn, of course, did all the work – even taking turns later in the night interviewing each other, whilst I sat back and giggled. (I swear it was their idea). Read on to find out what happens when band members, who are good friends in real life and extremely funny in person, get to turn the microphone on each other.
Hello Charlotte and Martijn! Last time Femme Metal talked with Delain in late 2009, you had recently headlined at Metal Female Voices Festival and were starting your tour with Sonata Arctica. Since then, you have released “April Rain” in the U.K., done headlining tours and have just performed at Wacken Open Air. How was Wacken?
Charlotte: It was awesome. Yeah, it was really great. We played at the Party Stage and there were lots of people there all cheering.
Martijn: And it was a PARTY! We were very surprised the party stage was called the “Party Stage”. It was amazing.
And that was just one of a lot of festivals that Delain was at this year, right?
Charlotte: We also did Sonisphere in the UK, which was REALLY amazing. I guess that was one of my favourites as well, next to Wacken.
Martijn: Mine too, absolutely.
Now, having sampled festivals all over the world, what has been the one where you thought everything just came together – the fans were on, the equipment was working, everything was perfect?
Martijn: We never had that. (laughs)
Charlotte: No, we’re still waiting for it. I mean, it’s taking FOREVER.
Martijn: (laughs) I’m just kidding, of course.
Charlotte: I guess Lowlands in 2009, which was really awesome. It’s a Dutch festival and I’ve been going there every since my parents allowed me to go to festivals, basically. Then, finally to be up on the stage there. And it was a good show, too!
Martijn: It was a really big festival with something like more than 50.000 people.
Charlotte: I think even 60.000.
Martijn: I think it’s one of the biggest in Holland. So, everything went perfect, and it was a really, really good show.
I understand that after ProgPower, Delain will make its first appearance in Mexico and Brazil. Do you have anything special planned for those shows?Charlotte: The fact that we will be there is kind of special. The special thing for us about Brazil and Mexico is that they were one of the first countries who had a really loyal and active fan-base. A few of the first fan-sites that popped up were the South American ones. And then you hear all the stories from other bands that it is crazy and wild over there. So I think we are as much looking forward to how they are going to be, as they are looking forward to how we are going to be. Martijn: Yeah, absolutely! And of course, you’re going to hear Charlotte talking Portuguese and Spanish.Charlotte, have you memorized some phrases and basic greetings? Charlotte: I actually contacted some fans … like “Oh, it would be so nice if I could say something!” … and sent them some stuff that I would like to say. I’m going to practice with them. I’m always trying to do that. And if I don’t get to memorize it, then I’ll just secretly write it on my hand. (Oh no, I’m telling my secret!)Martijn, how about you, or are you going to phone it in?Martijn: Yeah well, I don’t look forward to it. I think it is an average tour.Charlotte: Just another day at the office for Martijn.Martijn: But TOTALLY the other way around. It’s already great tour right now. We didn’t even play yet and it is already great being here in the States. I’m really looking forward to South America. As Charlotte said, we heard a lot of positive, crazy stuff from other bands there. And it is also always a really good sign if you have already developed a fan base and you didn’t even release anything yet or play there. So they deserve having us there, and we are really looking forward to it.
You’ve got very little time between ProgPower and Mexico, but have five days between Mexico and Brazil. Have you pencilled in some fun while you are there, maybe some sightseeing?Charlotte: We’ve had a lot of fun today!Martijn: We’re taking the car from Mexico City to São Paulo, so we needed five days. (laughs) No, we’re not. We have a couple of days off and we are going to do some sightseeing in Brazil.Charlotte: Destroying some more pools on the way over there.Martijn: Yeah, exactly!Charlotte: We’ll enjoy ourselves.I was really interested to read on Delain’s website that October 29th is actually the last show in Holland before the new album. Where are you on the new album?Charlotte: We are writing it. We have some songs and ideas for songs and we are hoping to get into the studio and get on going with it really quickly.Martijn: When we are back from this tour, actually the biggest part of the writing starts then. Then we really are planning to do a lot of stuff. Charlotte: We are going to lock ourselves in together.Is that what it takes when you are writing? To just step out of your lives and hunker down to write?Charlotte: If you have unlimited time, I don’t think you would need it. But at this point, we want something to happen fast. So, it is just making the circumstances to write more optimal.
Martijn: And it is also very easy if you sit together, to develop the style you want to do. Because you always want to innovate a little bit. When you are on your own, you cannot do that. So you need to be together for that. We have a lot of activities normally … without writing even … so it’s very important to really focus on it and don’t have any distractions. So we hired a small farm house in Holland and we are going to write and hope something good comes out of that.Charlotte, when you first started with Delain, a lot of the material for “Lucidity” was already written and you were doing vocal lines. And then in “April Rain”, it was much more collaborative. Now that you have worked together on two albums and know each other’s style, what is the process like? Charlotte: Actually, a lot of parts stay the same but some things change as well. I guess we are still working the same way. It is just that you get together earlier in the process, which makes it easier to respond to each other. At least for me, I like it better. I mean, the filling in the gaps on “Lucidity” was really cool but it’s richer to be there from the beginning and see how everything develops.
Martijn: Which I think we have to look into, if that is the most efficient way. But that is something for the future. Also still, the way of working is still moving. And that is good, because we are still exploring.
Your bass player, Otto der Oije, is a VERY recent addition to Delain. Would you tell us a little about him?
Charlotte: He was with us for the first time at the headline tour in the U.K. earlier this year.
Martijn: This felt like … I don’t know if it is also an American saying, “a lot of the lottery”. Something like that. What is the American saying?
Charlotte: Luck of the draw, that’s it.
Martijn: Exactly. It’s really great … really, really great with him.
Martijn: Because you achieve it yourself. But you also achieve it because of the people who visit you and who buy your stuff. They also achieve it for you, and that is very important to keep in mind.
Speaking of that, you spend A LOT of time on social media … you tweet, you write tour blogs, you’re taking pictures and posting them. “Here is where we are, here is what we’re doing, here is my kitty, here is what is going on in my life”. How do you keep that up when you are on the road, recording, writing music and living your lives?
Martijn: It is especially because of Charlotte, I think.
Charlotte: Actually, I went into the whole thing kicking and screaming, when they said, “Now you also have to do Twitter”. Of course, I liked the social networks and everything that is on there and it offers a lot of possibilities. But it wasn’t until the Twitter thing that I actually got really ADDICTED. But, it’s actually the most short and effective and fun way to get in touch with the people who like to follow you. Because, even if you are on MySpace and want to answer everybody, you can’t. With Twitter, it’s just 140 signs and you have a really short connection to everybody. It works, you know? You see that people actually FOLLOW you and you get kind of a gratitude for letting people know what you are doing.
Martijn: It gives energy.
Charlotte: That makes me feel happy. It’s like kind of a confirmation that what you’re doing is cool. I mean, of course, you don’t need other people to say that, but the fact that they do is fun! My parents ask me when I’m on tour, “You’re going to tweet a lot, right? We want to know what you are doing”. Sometimes my parents are like, “Hey, I read on Twitter that you are eating healthy foods”.
Martijn: It is also a blessing because I’m SO bad, I suck so much with this stuff. I want to get to answer but I sound so bad. It’s also a guy thing … I have a feeling that girls are better at this kind of stuff. Set aside that. I don’t want to blame it on the general male side and have to blame it on myself.
Charlotte: Actually, I never heard the thing that girls are more computer nerds than guys. I never heard that one before. (laughs)
Martijn: Not really computer nerds. I mean like being thoughtful about having good contacts. That’s what I mean. It’s good that Charlotte does that.
I’m curious about the extent to which the art history degree Charlotte is studying now colours your lyrics writing? The lyrics in “April Rain” have a very strong visual element.
Charlotte: When “Lucidity” was recorded, I wasn’t at university yet and was 17. So that wasn’t like an influence back then. The lyrics for “The Gathering” were written by Guus and there were some songs written by another guy who had some really poetic stuff on there, which was really cool. I kind of needed a dictionary for some it, though. They are not my words but I was in a band with him before and he really influenced me in the way you look at lyrics. Still, it is a very different kind of lyrics than ones that I would write.
Martijn: But also very complicated words sometimes.
Charlotte: They were REALLY good-sounding and with a really good metronome to it. They were really well thought over and excellent. But it is still different when it’s your own thoughts put to words. And from that, I think it has changed much from “Lucidity” to “April Rain”. I guess those are a little bit more personal. But on the other hand, when you are talking about really regular things — like things that happen to you in day-to-day life — it is interesting to put them in a different kind of form. If you look at the art history study, it helps to have a different way to say something. Like if you are looking at “Virtue and Vice”, it is about the virtues and the vices. You are talking about wanting to be something better and reaching out to them and saying, “I wish I was more like this virtue, or I wish I didn’t have so much of that vice in me”. It is just a more interesting way to say actually the things that I guess everyone thinks about every once in a while. So you keep them lyrically interesting but still comprehensible.
I’m feeling kind of lazy. So Charlotte, why don’t you ask Martijn some questions. And Martijn, what would you like to ask Charlotte? The ruder, the better actually … please do my job for me. J
Charlotte: (laughs) Martijn, what have you got in your suitcase right now at this tour that you are really ashamed about?
Martijn: That’s a good one! So, whatever I answer will be bad. I’m a totally boring guy if I have nothing and that’s not good. OR I have something really strange, which is also not good. So, I’m screwed both ways. Let me think, what do I have in my suitcase that I’m afraid might be found and am ashamed about?!? I think I’m a boring guy.
Martijn: No, actually.
Charlotte: Ah right, it’s the first day of tour.
Martijn: I think I wipe my ass very well. You asked for it!!!
That is SO being published.
Martijn: No no no no, don’t publish that! Don’t put that on the record … “wipes his ass very well”. No, I really, honestly, cannot think of anything. Actually because my bag was stuffed with a lot of equipment.
Charlotte: That is true. We didn’t get to take a lot with us, so we didn’t get a chance.
Martijn: I have a book of Napoleon and some history. I’m a real history addict, so I know exactly who is there on the walls. (Points to pictures of monarchs and military figures in the restaurant.) But anyway, to answer your question, I’m boring.
Martijn, what embarrassing questions might you have for Charlotte?
Martijn: Actually, I’m even meaner. I want to know …
Charlotte: He’s going to ask something that he already knows, that is really embarrassing. And then he is going to ask it anyway.
Martijn: No no no. What question would you REALLY hate to get in an interview … where you think, “Oh no, not THAT question!”
Charlotte: “What’s your favourite colour?”
Martijn: That’s a little bit disappointing.
Charlotte: I was just trying to keep it safe.
Martijn: Yeah, because she had her period back then, and she was very annoyed. This kind of stuff.
Charlotte: Exactly, exactly. Probably those kind of things. Or people who ONLY ask things that are in our biography at the website. Because then you just know, you didn’t do your homework. That too.
Martijn: Okay, your turn I guess. If you have another.
Charlotte: My all-time favourite question, which I was asked once by a Japanese guy, and it is the weirdest question I ever got. If you were a fish, then what kind of fish would you want to be? They actually asked me this. I was like, “Salmon or tuna, salmon or tuna, salmon or tuna, salmon or tuna …?”
Martijn: I would like to be a dolphin.
That’s not a fish, dude.
Martijn: That’s true, that’s true. It’s a mammal.
Charlotte: A starfish is cute, like a little starfish.
Martijn: A brown starfish. No, I’m more into lobsters, but that’s not a fish either.
Charlotte: Man, know your animals!
Charlotte: What about the Nemo fish. The Nemo fish is cute.
Martijn: That is gay. I think I would like to be a …
Charlotte: … you’d be an eel.
Martijn: An eel, yeah! Or a herring.
Last question and then “goodbyes” to all.
Martijn: What do you like about the lyrics of “The Gathering”? (sinister laugh)
Charlotte: I like the fact that no one until today has really figured out what it is about. Yeah, that is what I like most about it, I guess. And the lyrical theme is quite cool.
(Martijn continues laughing)
Charlotte: Asshole. (laughs)
Do you have any last profound and deep words for your friends, admirers and would-be stalkers at Femme Metal?
Charlotte: Please stalk us. We need the attention, especially Martijn.
Martijn: Don’t read this interview more than once.
Actually, read it again but backwards. It’s much more profound.
Charlotte: Yeah, there are hidden messages!
Many thanks to Charlotte, Martijn and Delain’s tour manager Rik for being charming dinner companions and utterly gracious throughout. Our thanks also to Dave at EarsplitPR for arranging the interview.
Label : Fono LTD
Review by Vard Aman
RabieS (the band… with a capital S – they asked me really nicely) comes from Magnitogorsk in the Chelyabinsk Region in Russia, at the extreme Southern end of the Ural Mountains. OK, that’s enough geography, onto a bit of science and etymology. Most people know rabies as the name of a disease, and it is one of the most unpleasant and fatal diseases known; but RabieS have taken their name not from the disease but rather from the origin of the word itself, which is Latin for “madness” or “fury” (the name of the disease obviously has the same origin). They formed in 2006, and “Kaplya v Beskonechnost” is their debut offering – and what a pleasant debut it is! RabieS play some highly accomplished and beautifully constructed Symphonic Operatic Metal – of the kind that is going to make musical comparisons with Tarja-era Nightwish, I’m afraid, inevitable. Comparisons in quality at least I think are fully justified; but RabieS comes from Magnitogorsk in Russia while Nightwish comes from the Metal Capital of the World and Nightwish are also one of the pioneers of this sound. (I do think though that RabieS has a better and prettier singer than Tarja-era Nightwish did. There! I said it! Bring on the hate mail!).
Vladislava has a beautiful and rich operatic soprano voice, and her vocals provide the highlight of this release… most of the time at least. At the middle and higher end of her range she is awesome (and even more so when she harmonizes… wow!) but on lower notes it sometimes sounds like she is straining just a little and in one or two places the result is that her normally beautifully flowing voice gives way to… I’m not sure what it’s called so I’m going to give it my own name – “alarmed hen syndrome”. She still hits the notes perfectly but something just doesn’t feel right. It might also be a consequence of an operatic style not being quite suited to that particular part of the song – perhaps in the parts in question, a normal singing style would have been better suited (and as a bonus might also have served to give the operatic parts more impact when they came in, especially when the operatic vocals are of such outstanding quality as Vladislava’s are). Still, those moments are few and far between, and most of the time her vocals are right up there among the most beautiful, flowing operatic vocals that I’ve heard from an operatic singer in Metal; and her voice suits the music perfectly. Turning our attention to the rest of the band and the production, the performance and the song writing is really good. The songs are not overly complex and succeed in creating the kinds of feelings and emotions through the sound and the melodies that they should. The songs are also catchy – 3 days after hearing the single “Vozvrascheniye” (and watching the video) for the first time I found myself humming the chorus to myself.
Occasional male vocals and growls are provided by the keyboardist Eduard. The kick drum could have used a little more low-end EQ (and/or a little less high-end EQ) in the mix, but that isn’t too much of an issue. The album is also quite short by today’s standards: 9 songs (including the bonus track) at just over 32 minutes but this is not a bad thing at all. The songs are all equally good, there are no fillers, and when the album ended I found myself feeling both very satisfied by what I had heard and wanting more at the same time. Bands that try to make long albums just for the sake of making a long album (““we have the time, let’s use it”) often fail to have this effect. Credit must go to RabieS for avoiding this temptation… although, that said, perhaps one or two more songs on this album certainly would not have hurt. Or you can just listen to the album again, like I did, and like I have done several times since and will do again. “Kaplya v Beskonechnost” is a good debut indeed, but there are a few minor creases that I think the band needs to iron out for the next one; and if they do, the next one should be even better. So, with that, I strongly recommend getting RabieS! I’ve got RabieS and I’m enjoying every minute of it!
Rating - 85/100
Label : Prikosnovenie
Review by Stina
Russia’s Caprice have spent nine studio albums finding nuance in elvish fairy pop, sometimes inspired by the work of J. R. R. Tolkien. Now, they’re using their tenth studio effort to graciously yet vigorously steamroll over canonical conceptions of music, delivering their sound into a transporting, eccentric suite that gathers symphonic harmonies, sheer Prog brilliance, echoes of baroque memory, and Ethereal Voices into one sophisticated, wildly charming package. “Masquerade” is a work about poetry and expression of Art – and, just as Art is meant to do, it embraces an eclectic, unbridled flow that drips with passion and personality, orchestrated by the tender and agile soprano voice of Inna Brejestovskaya, whose mother-tongue lyrics transport the listener one century back in time, straight into the brighter and darker faces of the tangle between Russian history and Art: in this case, the Silver Age with its creative ecstasy and queries about Love and Beauty, counterbalanced by the shades of terror cast upon the population and the Artists by Lenin and Stalin’s rules. The title “Masquerade” was reportedly picked as an allusion to said times: ‘because in Stalin’s times people could only live and make art hiding under a mask’, but also to a playful and liberating conception of Art ‘Venetian masquerade with its glorious, festive atmosphere was an inspiration for many Russian poets’. And what makes “Masquerade” pulsate with life and vividness is how the clash of these opposites – most notably, the delight of creation and the fear of being crushed by the totalitarian machine – lends it dynamism and realism, together with a variety of mood and structures – sometimes smooth, other times uneven and with their full arc only becoming clear by track’s end. But the most effective way this dualism is mirrored is in the division of “Masquerade” in two chapters: the first half is centered on the pure joy of creation. From the fitting entrance point of the soft and ethereal soundscapes of “Reality”, on to the unconventional and meandering “Agnesa”, or even in the jaw-dropping proggy architectures of “To a Girl”, the emotional palette of the first half is one that contains nuances of euphoria, dreaminess, and rapture. With the cinematic, dark atmosphere of “The Master’s Shadow”, the second part starts on a more ominous and dark tone; from there, “Masquerade” remains deeply reverent of exuding the anguish inflicted by the totalitarian climate, and portraying the works, the lives – and, most notably, the deaths of five poets (Daniil Harms, Velimir Khlebnikov, Marina Tsvetaeva, Nikolai Gumilev, Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Mayakovsky) that succumbed to those tragic circumstances. “What Have I Done to You” surfaces delicate and consuming feelings I fail to pinpoint with a name; “Listen!” is a sort of elegy about the hope of peace and relief after death, while the conclusive “Fox and Cockerel” tells of a poet who, totally deranged and maddened by fear, while being dragged to his execution laughs in the face of his executioner. The free and impassioned nature of the music makes it difficult to pinpoint references or influences behind the creation, and any sense of one-dimensional characterization is completely erased by Caprice’s ability to portray the manifold conceptual body that informs the record. As a whole, “Masquerade” is a compelling stroke of passionate, otherwordly genius.
Rating - 95/100
Interview by Erwin Van Dijk
An interview with Michelle Loose from Brave. On June 1st the compilation double cd “Demonic and Divine” is released by Femme Metal Records.. The cd is to support the Macmillan Cancer support and Cancer research UK. Brave appears with the song “Driven”. This song originally appeared on the album “Monuments”. Brave is a Progressive rock/metal band from Washington DC (United States). This interview is with Michelle Loose, who is responsible for the keys and vocals.
For starters: How was the gig with Cynic in Springfield?
It was amazing! Definitely a dream come true to play with Cynic. We’ve been huge fans of theirs since the early ‘90’s. They put on a great show. They are so good live, so talented.
Did you always wanted to become a singer?
I’ve always loved music and singing but I never dreamed that I would actually be a singer. I’m a pretty shy person so I never imagined that I would actually sing in front of people. I was really forced into singing for the band – but I’m so glad that I was!
Who are your favourite singers and musicians?
Tori Amos probably tops my list. Other singers/musicians include Lisa Gerrard, Ann Wilson, Geoff Tate, Ray Alder.
And to what kind of music do you listen yourself?
I’ve really been on a proggy metal kick lately. I listen to a lot of different bands but right now I’m really digging Dream Theater, Cynic, Fates Warning, Metallica. I also frequently listen to The Gathering, Lacuna Coil, Genesis, Faith No More, Tori Amos.
Did you sing in any other bands before Brave and do you any other bands right now?
We were previously known as Arise From Thorns which includes the same core lineup of myself, my brother Scott Loose on guitar and drummer Trevor Schrotz. I did a brief part on a demo before joining AFT for another band but that’s really it. I’ve done a few recordings here and there for other artists including Power of Omens, David Gallegos, While Heaven Wept and Project Failing Flesh.
You also play piano. What do you prefer, singing or playing piano?
I probably prefer singing. I feel more confident singing rather than playing piano.
You have been active in Brave (and Arise From Thorns as the band was called in the early days) since 1997. What are the highlights for you so far?
We’ve had some really great live performances opening for bands that I’ve longed admired like Fates Warning, Cynic, Lacuna Coil, Opeth and others and that has been amazing. We’ve been so fortunate to get on these gigs. I’d also say that meeting and working with so many other music lovers has been wonderful. I never would have had these experiences without being in the band. We’ve truly met a lot of great people, fans and professionals.
And did you have any negative experiences?
We have had some not so good live performances, nothing terrible but some nasty club experiences. Overall we’ve been extremely lucky and fortunate not to have too many negative experiences.
Why did you choose Brave as the name for your band?
We decided to change the name from Arise From Thorns back in 2000 because we wanted a less dramatic and more memorable name. There were a few serendipitous events that took place with the word “Brave” and it’s always had personal meaning for me. I have to remind myself to be ‘brave’ daily whether it be in my regular day to day life or when singing in front of people. I try to be brave and grow personally and professionally all of the time. It’s a strong word with powerful meaning.
How would you describe Brave’s music? Because Progressive Rock/Metal covers a lot of music these days, from Stratovarius to Epica.
We’ve always been somewhat difficult to pigeon hole in terms of labelling a specific style. We have our moments when we are more on the prog/metal side of the spectrum but we also have songs that would be considered slightly more contemporary or commercial sounding. We try to really vary up our style and sound. We don’t think about what kind of music we want to write, it just comes out the way it is and we keep it that way. For us the joy in writing music is writing whatever we want and not creating any musical boundaries.
And what makes Brave different compared to all the other female fronted bands in the world?
I would say that our sound is unique, passionate and dynamic.There are definitely a lot of female fronted bands out there so we stand out amongst all of the bands with our own sound.
Can you introduce us to the other members of Brave?
Scott Loose: Guitars, founding member of Arise From Thorns and Brave - Matt Kozar: Guitars, joined Brave in 2007 and has been a wonderful addition to the family both personally and musically. -Trevor Schrotz: Drums, founding member or Arise From Thorns and Brave. - Ben Kelly: Bass, joined Brave in 2003 and has been a long time friend of ours and a great addition to the band - Suvo Sur: Violin/Keys, joined Brave in 2003 and has really defined our style with the added instrumentation of violin. Suvo is an amazing musician and we’ve so enjoyed working with him.
You and Scott are brother and sister. Does this make things easier in the band or not?
Fortunately we get along pretty well so there are no dramatic family fights or anything like that. I find that we are both really on the same page musically so I think that helps to have that connection. I’m also married to our drummer Trevor so it’s definitely been a family affair for a long time.
Why did Brave choose the song “Driven” for the “Demonic and Divine” album?
That’s one of our favourite songs from our recent CD “Monuments”. It’s fun, heavy and uplifting so we wanted to include this on the compilation.
And how did you (the band) got in touch with Femme Metal?
I believe my brother Scott actually started talking with them. Caz and everyone at Femme Metal have been wonderful to work with. We were honoured that they wanted to release a 10 year anniversary CD for us.
Is song writing teamwork in Brave or is there a mastermind behind the music?
Mostly it’s a team effort, we all add our own spices to the mix if you will. Most of the main riffs and ideas are written by Scott but we all get to add our own styles to each song. It’s definitely a collaborative effort.
Washington D.C.’s progressive/rock band Brave signs deal for a 10 year anniversary album with Femme Metal Records from England. The album, entitled “Lost in Retrospect” ,will feature selected tracks from all of the Brave and Arise From Thorns (former band name) albums, including some songs that are long out of print. “Lost in Retrospect” was released February 20, 2009. Brave’s singer Michelle Loose said about the album: “We are very excited about this collaboration for a 10 year anniversary CD with the new record label, Femme Metal Records. We can’t believe we’ve been making music together for 10 years now and are glad to be able to re-release some of the older songs that have been long out of print. We are so happy to be working with Femme Metal Records and thank you for your support with this collaboration.” Can you tell us something about the songs on “Lost in Retrospect” ?
It was a hard decision to select songs from the last 10 years. We really just picked out our favourite and most meaningful songs to us and narrowed the selection down to what we could use with the time that is allotted for CD. We then picked songs that we though would flow well together and this is what we came up with. It’s a good overview of AFT/Brave over the last 10 years.
What is the idea behind the title of the album?
The title is actually from the song “Lost in Retrospect” which was on our CD “Waist Deep in Dark Waters”. That song was written by a dear friend of ours who was also in our band at the time, Tom Phillips from While Heaven Wept. The title seemed to work perfectly for what we were creating.
And what is your favourite song on “Lost in Retrospect” ?
Probably “Candle in the Dark”.
What are Brave’s plans for the future?
We have a few live performances coming up so we are focused on those for now. Eventually we’ll probably write again and go from there.
And the last question: Is there anything the reader should know that I have not asked?
Please feel free to check out our music samples at www.myspace.com/braveband if you’d like to check us out. Thank you so much for the interview!!
Interview by Adam
For the benefit of those who don’t know, what is the story behind Beautiful Dark?
When I left Strict 9 Brian discovered we had many of the same musical tastes and decided we wanted to start a band incorporating many different styles of music. Brian tends to lean towards the industrial side, I come from a metal background. It just worked. We found our first drummer, David, while he and Brian were working at the same company. That’s how BD started.
Where did the name Beautiful Dark come from?
Brian was trying to discribe GOTH music to me, in terms. He called it Beautiful and Dark. There’s no beauty in the dark. Darkness being all encompassing. Also he says I’m the beautiful one, he’s the dark one. Primarily, Beautiful Dark is our baby. We also think the Dark is Beautiful….
Who would you regard as your influences?
Lauren : Wow. We’re very different! The Beatles, Enuff Z Nuff (yesssss they had lots more songs) Scorpions, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Simon and Garfunkle, Linda Rondstadt, Pink Floyd, Def Leppard, Jellyfish, Imperial Drag,Tony Iommi,Sacred Reich, Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, Yes, Flotsam and Jetsam, The Ramones, NIN, Faith no More, Dead or Alive, FF5, Ac/DC, DePeche Mode, The Cult, classsical, progressive and jazz, I won’t go on, I’m really varied.
Brian : Vince Clarke, Pink Floyd, Nick Rhodes, Tony Banks (Genesis), Rik Wakeman from Yes, Peter Gabriel, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Erasure, Yazoo, Baroque classical music, Trent Reznor, Bach & Mozart, and he says his imagination inspires him the most.
Given that you’ve re-invented yourself under a different name how important do you think it is for bands to keep sounding fresh?
Critical. Unless you want to stagnate, you have to grow with the music of the time. More than anything we never want our music to be boring or get into a groove where every song sounds the same. It gets to the point I’ve heard happen with too many artists they find a formula and stick with it. But all the songs sound alike. We never want that to happen and don’t think we will ever be a formula band. As far as “fresh” goes, we always make music that we want to listen to. Every song we do has been something we always wanted to hear.
What would you say makes Beautiful Dark different from other bands of a similar style?
Definitly our range. We love to surprise the audience. Hell, we might end up with a country song some day. When that day comes though, I quit. (laughter) We’re all different people with different musical styles. I think too often bands get boxed into a category and genre and can’t grow from that. What makes us unique, is no one can really categorize us. “Alone” is a ballad, yes, but most of our songs are really varied sounding.
On MySpace you state the intention to release songs on a number of different subjects, how many of them are relative to a prevailing mood or emotion?
Lyrically, ALL of them are about my journals. I write between 1-5 songs lyrically a day, whatever is going on in my life at the moment is what ends up on a song. Sometimes you gotta read between the lines though to figure out what it means to me. Brian: The music comes from not necessarily feelings I’m having at the time, but surely had felt in the past. I’m trying to make a statement musically, more than emotionally. If it effects someone else, great! The music for me does come from my heart mind and soul. It may sound corny…(laughs)
What can people expect from the forthcoming CD?
LOTS of surprises. A lot of emotion went into this cd. A lot of different textures musically on this one. We experimented with a lot of different sounds, just hearing the first mixes we’re very excited. It’s going to be a cd where every song is different! And of course it will contain a lot of Dark Beauty.
Where do you see Beautiful Dark being in about ten years time?
Brian : We want to be just as hungry and naive as the first track we ever put down.
Lauren : TOURING, making more music. Music that makes a difference if that is possible. It’s never been about money or conquering the world with us. Hopefully we effected someone with our music.
If you could open the show for any band in the world who would they be?
Nine Inch Nails, Hands Down, or the Beatles, but don’t think that is possible…sadly.
What first made you want to pick up a musical instrument?
Lauren : The Beatles! Most of the metal that was going on in the 80’s. I had a major musical upbringing and very varied musical styles by my mother. She inspired me a lot. My first instrument was an antique Autoharp. I still have it and still play. It will pop up on the CD if you listen closely! I picked up guitar at age 9 seriously and began taking lessons 2 days a week. I majored in music in college, but found reading music a wasn’t my forte’!
Brian : My mother, too. She had a piano when I was a kid and I used to play on it a lot, she could play to sheet music which I still can’t do (Laughs) I used to listen to records with her as a kid.
What would you say were the attractions of being involved in the music business?
It’s the hardest business in the world. I’m going to be honest. I don’t highly recommend it, I’ve lost a lot of musician friends over the years, I still worry about many, their hearts are broken because they never “made it” or almost did and lost it. This business is very finicky. One day you’re the biggest band in the world playing to sold out audiences, the next to a bar with 4 people in Topeka, Kansas. The only attractions we can think of is having our music reaching the masses. Trying to send them all a message through the music. To change the world one person at a time. That would be cool. There’s just too many sad rock n roll storys out there.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps and establish a band?
Brian : You need to keep your MIND clear. This sounds corny, be true to yourself, don’t be a FAKER or copycat. Try your hardest to get your music and creations out there.
Lauren : Have a stable life and be realistic. Don’t get caught up in being a ROCKSTAR. Also, never SETTLE.
Female fronted metal bands such as Within Temptation and Nightwish seem to have been on the increase over the past few years, how do you see them as fitting into an industry which was before this more often than not the all-male territory of bands such as Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath?
Good Question! The industry has finally woken up and discovered that girls can rock just as much and sometimes better than guys. A female led band should be a bonus. You get the fans from both male and female. The girls want to be her, the guys want to be with her. Why shouldn’t a female led band be just a good as a male led band? It’s been a long time over due. Back when I grew up we had Pat Benetar, Lita Ford, Chrissy Hynde, Girlschool and Joan Jett. That was pretty much it. I couldn’t get in a band to save my life in the 80’s or 90’s because of the way I look and the simple fact that I am female…..I finally can be accepted now.
If you were to write your autobiography what would it be called?
Lauren : And Chaos always ensues (or….My life in the rock n roll twilight zone) I am working on another book eventually. I have 2 that are finished, that I will publish in the next year.
What was the last film you watched?
Lauren : “Even Almighty”
Brian : “Grindhouse”
Do you have any final messages for your fans?
The best is yet to come!!! Buy the CD next year! See us on tour Spring/Summer in Europe! And thank you for everything, you guys are the best!!!!!!!!