Metal Chick of the Month – Viktoria Viren

She’s armed… and she’s dangerous…

There isn’t a lot of personal details about our metal chick for this month, but I don’t think you’ll really care that much about it as our chosen one kicks some serious ass with her devilish growls, stunning looks and a badass attitude. Furthermore, if you’re a diehard fan of Swedish Melodic Death Metal titans Arch Enemy, nurturing a special admiration for their almost 15 years with the unparalleled screaming queen Angela Gossow on vocals, you’ll certainly have a blast listening to the ravishing singer Viktoria Viren, the frontwoman of Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Evil Drive, bursting her lungs and delivering high-voltage Heavy Metal with her bandmates, proving once again that the importance of women in extreme music is only growing more and more through the years. So keep your eyes and ears open, because whenever you see a “double V” in Melodic Death Metal, you know it’s going to be brutal, thrilling and, obviously, awesome.

Born on November 11, 1988 (I guess) somewhere in Russia (but also Finnish at heart), Viktoria started her career in heavy music at an early stage of her life, singing in various bands from when she was only 14 years old, with her first major festival happening a couple of years later, when she was 16, performing with a Death Metal band at the Vyborg Castle, a Swedish-built medieval fortress originally constructed in the 1290’s and one of the three major castles of Finland, around which the town of Viborg (today in Russia) evolved. You won’t find many videos of Viktoria from her early metal days, except for this 2012 footage of our diva (at that time part of a band named Alistaja, which I couldn’t find any information about) singing Megadeth’s neck-breaking all-time classic Symphony of Destruction, and this one with a band named Soulcrypt at the Vyborg Castle in 2010; however, based on this sole sample of what Viktoria can do with her voice, it’s easy to understand how she quickly progressed in music until reaching her status today with Evil Drive.

“It was 2004 and the only woman in a metal band that I knew of was Angela Gossow”, said Viktoria in one of her interviews, and that’s one of the main reasons why she decided to follow the path of guttural singing in heavy music. She mentioned that she really likes the growling and screaming, that it makes the music more powerful and energetic, and that she feels stronger when doing guttural. Viktoria also said that, although she could be doing some clean singing with Evil Drive, she doesn’t think that can properly transmit the power of their compositions to their fans. We saw something similar happening with Alissa White-Gluz when she left The Agonist and joined Arch Enemy, when she completely ditched her clean vocals and began doing only guttural for Michael Amott’s iconic band due to the nature of their songs and their musical direction. Maybe we’ll see Viktoria doing some clean singing one day, but for now let’s keep enjoying her beastly roars (as if that wasn’t awesome enough for us metalheads).

In regards to her band Evil Drive, I think we might say Viktoria and the band are one single entity. There’s no Viktoria Viren without Evil Drive, and vice-versa. Founded in 2013 in Kotka, a city located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, by Viktoria, her husband and guitarist Ville Wiren (who by the way also plays for Finnish Symphonic Power/Gothic Metal band Domination Black), and drummer Juha Beck, the aim was to set up a band which has not been previously heard. All the musicians in the band have a history in a number of different bands and different genres, therefore incorporating many distinct musical styles into their compositions, sounding like a traditional Melodic Death Metal band with a twist of 80’s style Thrash Metal. When asked about the origin of the name “Evil Drive”, Viktoria mentioned the fusion of those two words has a strong influence on the band’s music, as everything they do and try to achieve is characterized by this name. The word “drive” connects to her love for motorcycles, energy and freedom, while “evil” was a wicked combination found by Viktoria, becoming a simple but powerful name in the end.

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In November 2013, Viktoria and her bandmates Ville Wiren (guitar), Niko Huusari (guitar), Marko Syrjala (bass) and Juha Beck (drums) released their debut self-titled EP, getting a lot of attention not only from the Finnish media, but from critics and fans all over the world. The EP consisted of four original songs that would later become part of their first full-length album, entitled The Land of the Dead, released in January 2016. In the official video for one of the tracks from the EP, the excellent Bullet, you can have a very good taste of what Evil Drive are capable of, providing a clear view of the musical direction the band was going to follow with their upcoming releases. The Land of the Dead, released in the beginning of 2016, contained the four songs from the Evil Drive EP plus six original belligerent tunes that helped cement the name of the band in the metallic scenario worldwide, in special in the world of Melodic Death Metal. You can check their two official videos recorded for the album, one for the song War, and the other for the title-track The Land of the Dead (which can be seen at the end of this essay), showcasing the evolution in their musicality and how their looks and the use of military imagery became a crucial part of the whole concept behind their music. Well, Viktoria and the rest of the band don’t need to worry too much about maintaining their warlike visual always fresh and renovated, as they have a healthy partnership with the highly acclaimed Finnish army supply store Varusteleka, making it easy for them to keep the war going.

In addition to that, the band even had some extra fuel to release the single Anti-Genocide on October 12, 2016, to be featured on their upcoming album which is scheduled to be released sometime this year. The new single, which features the band’s new guitarist Juha-Pekka Pusa (replacing Niko Huusari), offers the listener a different theme and feeling compared to The Land of the Dead, which was all about the current world politics and war, according to Viktoria herself. “The new track is about the history of the American Indians and about the fate they had to face when the white men came and took over their land”, said our gorgeous screamer, and as per the official video for the song you’ll be able to see the band truly immersed themselves in the topic, especially Viktoria with her awesome Indian attire.

As every metal band in the world, it’s when the musicians are performing live on stage that we finally know if the band is worth a place in Valhalla among the metal gods, right? Well, there’s a lot of good quality footage on YouTube where you can check Viktoria kicking fuckin’ ass with her Evil Drive, such as two videos from their first year as a band playing in St. Petersburg, Russia on November 22, 2013 (just click HERE and HERE); playing the song Screaming Soul at the now closed PRKL Club in Helsinki, Finland  on July 17, 2015; paying an awesome tribute to the iconic Lemmy and his Motörhead by playing a cover version of the classic Killed By Death at the traditional pub On The Rocks, also in Helsinki, on January 23, 2016; performing at the Finnish winter festival known as Metal Bath on March 4, 2016 in Hämeenlinna, Finland, as you can see in the songs War and again the Motörhead cover Killed By Death; and more recently playing their newest hymn Anti-Genocide live at Bar Bäkkäri in Helsinki on December 10, 2016.

When questioned if the presence of a frontwoman affects the career of a band, Viktoria said that in the past having a female band member attracted more attention because it was a world dominated predominantly by men, but today that’s not the case anymore. We see more and more talented women taking the stage on par with any male musician, and not only on vocals but in any other instrument. Viktoria also mentioned that over the years women have mastered the art of guttural singing, becoming more prominent in metal and, as a consequence, being more accepted in extreme music than before. She said the combination of factors such as the beauty, the strength and the unpredictability turn a female guttural singer into something mesmerizing, and we must agree with her it’s always astonishing to see a woman that looks delicate at first sight start screaming like a beast and headbanging like a maniac on stage, just like we got used to see with Angela Gossow, Alissa White-Gluz and many other exceptional growlers, don’t you agree?

Lastly, there couldn’t be a better place for Viktoria to live than Finland, a land that breathes Heavy Metal. When asked about how hard it is to find the right musicians in her homeland, our red-haired metaller said it’s actually quite easy to put a band together in Finland, as every other person is a guitarist, a bass player or a drummer, but that’s also extremely challenging to keep the band members working side by side in a productive and friendly way, as everyone has different ideas and visions on writing and making music. As long as Viktoria and her band members are able to keep working as a single powerful unity like what we’ve been witnessing with Evil Drive, the world of heavy music will remain happy and energized for more of her impactful demonic growls, no doubt about that.

Viktoria Viren’s Official Facebook page
Evil Drive’s Official Facebook page
Evil Drive’s Official Twitter
Evil Drive’s Official YouTube channel
Evil Drive’s Official Instagram

“Over the recent years females have shown to master the throat singing just as well as men. I think the interest in us is caused by many different factors: the beautiful, strong and the unpredictable – this is mesmerizing.” – Viktoria Viren

Metal Chick of the Month – Caterina Nix

Wake up, this is my dream… Just let me sleep… In my loneliness, high above of me I fly.

The Republic of Chile might be known worldwide for its astounding attractions such as the arid Atacama Desert, the ski resort of Valle Nevado and the beach resort of Viña del Mar, as well as the country’s rich culture which has already provided the world the beautiful poetry of Pablo Neruda, for example. However, it’s time for the world to also know more about one of the most talented Chilean singers in heavy music, the gorgeous Caterina Nix, born Caterina Torrealba in Santiago, Chile and also known as Cati Torrealba, a solo artist better known for her partnership with the iconic Finnish guitarist Timo Tolkki in the Power Metal projects Chaos Magic and Timo Tolkki’s Avalon.

Caterina’s interest in singing and in music started at an early stage of her life, when she joined several rock bands during her adolescence at school and in the choir, discovering Heavy Metal during that period and falling in love for it. She started listening to classic bands such as Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden as a kid, expanding her metallic horizons a little more with bands like Tool and Fear Factory, before getting completely in love with female-fronted groups such as Lacuna Coil, Nightwish and After Forever. With metal and rock flowing through her veins, Caterina was always motivating her friends at school to play rock tunes when they were around 12 years old, which years later led to the creation of her first band, named Aghonya. In addition to that, our metal diva has a soprano vocal range and has received both classical and pop singing training, showcasing her versatility in music. Well, she mentioned in one of her interviews that her biggest idols in music are the unparalleled Freddy Mercury and Bruce Dickinson, and that singing along with them is like being in a master class, learning a lot by playing their music and imitating them. That alone says it all, don’t you think?

As aforementioned, Caterina’s first professional endeavor in the world of heavy music was with Chilean Gothic Metal band Aghonya, with whom she recorded a demo in 2006 and the full-length album Oxygen, in 2008, which she wrote all lyrics and vocal lines. Although the record was released independently, the band and Caterina garnered critical acclaim, leading the band to open for renowned acts like After Forever, Edguy and Within Temptation. In addition, Caterina believes that, as Aghonya started as a cover band for Nightwish, that helped shape her style to become the singer she is today, which you can see in songs such as Lead Me Into You (also check this nice live version at an extremely cheesy TV show from Chile called Sin Dios Ni Late) and the title-track Oxygen. Unfortunately, as it happens with several bands worldwide, Aghonya came to an end sometime in 2010, when each band member took a different path in life. The band’s drummer, Javier Guzman, moved to Australia; bassist Sergio Silva and guitarist Sebastián Coulon both got other jobs; and keyboardist Andres Cruz moved to a small town in the north of Chile.

Although it was only in 2015 when Caterina and Timo Tolkki joined forces to form Finnish/Chilean Symphonic Power Metal band Chaos Magic (together with Finnish drummer Jami Huovinen), our metal diva had already met Timo many years before that at a meet-and-greet at a Stratovarius concert in Chile, and they kept in touch after that. Years later, she sent Timo her material and they started to think about recording music together, which ended up happening when Frontiers Records came up with the idea of having a female vocalist to have a solo project written and produced by Timo, who opted for Caterina among three names, culminating with the release of their self-titled album Chaos Magic in 2015. The name Chaos Magic was chosen by Caterina herself, aiming at portraying our positivity and spirituality towards the universe, with each one of us being just one piece of energy altogether. You can feel the energy proposed by Caterina and all her passion for Melodic Metal in the classy tunes One Drop of Blood and A Little Too Late, as well as in the official video for I’m Alive (which you can see at the end of this tribute to Caterina). However, when asked about her favorite tracks of the album, she said she has a special place in her heart for Seraphim and Passionflow, as both are sexy and put a woman in a position of power, making her dive into the femme fatale character and sing from a powerful point of view.

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Our Chilean bombshell can also be seen in different bands and projects as a guest vocalist, including  Finnish Symphonic Power Metal project Timo Tolkki’s Avalon (yes, her partnership with Timo started before Chaos Magic was born), where she sang in two songs from their 2014 album Angels of the Apocalypse together with Simone Simons (Epica), Elize Ryd (Amaranth) and Floor Jansen (Nightwish), those being High Above Of Me and Angels of the Apocalypse. You can also enjoy her sweet vocals in the gentle ballad Believe In Me, from the 2015 album Post-Apocalyptic, by Croatian Heavy/Power Metal act Undercode, as well as in the song Lost Innocence, from the 2016 album The March of the Fallen by Chilean Power Metal band Triboulet. In addition to that, Caterina is also part of Vivaldi Metal Project (you can see a short clip of our diva introducing herself to the fans of the project HERE), and has been working hard as a solo artist, consistently performing live in several venues and cities. For instance, she had the chance to open for Nightwish in her hometown Santiago in October 2015, being chosen by the production of the show among hundreds of applicants. As a few excellent samples of what Caternia has been doing for metal music in her career, you can see her singing together with members from the bands from Delta, Resilience and Witchblade in a cover version for Dio’s all-time classic Rainbow in the Dark during The Metal Tour 2016 in Chile; delivering a passionate performance of Queen’s No One But You together with Ronnie Romero (Lords of Black, Rainbow); presenting an acoustic version of a new song called I’d Give it All; showing her heavier and groovier side in the excellent Throw Me To The Wolves; and kicking some serious ass at Chile Rock Festival 2016.

Furthermore, Caterina has a law degree and currently works as an attorney specializing in liability cases. She mentioned in one of her interviews it’s tough to earn a living as a musician in Chile, although she always wanted to be an opera singer (which her parents were against). She went to college, got her degree and works as an attorney (for a loss adjustment company specializing in liability) for the money, but her true passion is music. I guess that’s not too different from many of us, don’t you agree? Caterina mentioned that, if she could dedicate herself to music 24/7 that would be a dream come true, but that’s unfortunately not the reality for her, at least not yet. Furthermore, our Chilean diva said being an attorney somehow helps her being more aware if someone is not being honest with you or if someone is trying to do shady things behind your back, but also that so far nothing bad has happened and her record label has treated her with the utmost respect and transparency.

In regards to her favorite places in the world, Caterina said she had a blast visiting cities like Florence and Venice, in Italy, and the Sedlec Ossuary, the church made of human bones located in Kutná Hora, in the Czech Republic, not to mention an amazing AC/DC concert she had a chance to attend in Paris after many years waiting for a chance to see the most important Hard Rock band of all time. She’s also an animal and nature lover, being the proud owner of cats, a turtle and some birds, going outside to connect with nature when searching for inspiration, staring at the sky and having that instance of being alone with nature. Those seem to be very basic things, but Caterina consider herself a very simple person who loves singing and creating music, being in love and being loved, spending time with her family and with her pets, working out, eating different types of food and, obviously, shopping.

Her taste for music couldn’t be better, as she enjoys listening to several types of rock and metal music such as Tool and In this Moment, her youth classics Korn, Pantera, Black Label Society and Fear Factory, and of course female-fronted bands like Lacuna Coil, Amaranthe and Nightwish. When asked about the metal scene in her homeland, she said everyone knows how Chileans are completely passionate about Heavy Metal, with fans smashing each other to see their biggest idols playing live. However, when it comes to the local metal scene, Caterina said Chile is very different from Europe, for example, with local bands lacking the necessary resources to be known or listened to, with things slightly improving nowadays with the use of several online tools. It’s a case similar to her own, where you have to do music in Chile because you love it, not because of the money. Well, Caterina, your passion for heavy music is truly inspiring, and we’re sure it will encourage numerous bands and musicians, including talented women like you, to keep the fire of metal music burning bright in your charming “Land of Poets”.

Caterina Nix’s Official Facebook page
Caterina Nix’s Official YouTube channel
Caterina Nix’s Official Instagram

“I’ll do my best to bring people beautiful strong music and I’ll keep on screaming that no one should ever give up on their dreams. We all deserve a chance. We all deserve to give ourselves that chance.” – Caterina Nix

Metal Chick of the Month – Elizabeth Schall

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So follow me now, you’re falling behind… Have the will to set free…

It’s time to get really heavy at The Headbanging Moose with a woman that not only kicks some serious ass on guitar, but she manages to channel all her passion for Heavy Metal into her music flawlessly, creating some sick tunes that will definitely put you to bang your head and raise your horns like crazy. Of Chilean descent, here comes the incredible metal shredder Elizabeth Schall, an American singer, songwriter and guitarist mainly known for her work with Winterthrall, Dreaming Dead and The Iron Maidens, among several other bands and projects. If you want to know how badass Elizabeth is, let me tell you that some of her biggest influences in music are Iron Maiden, Slayer and Megadeth. Do I need to say more?

Daughter of Federico and Amanda Renee Schall, Elizabeth had to relocate to Chile after living in California, which despite not being easy for her and her family in the beginning it helped them learn to appreciate what they left behind in the United States, not to mention the enormous benefit for Elizabeth as she became fully bilingual then. In regards to music, our kick-ass guitarist started taking accordion lessons at an early stage of her life, switching to guitar later, saying that if it wasn’t for the accordion lessons maybe she wouldn’t be playing guitar today. Due to her exceptional skills as a guitar player, her commitment to learning the instrument and her passion for Heavy Metal, Elizabeth has become a role model for many young women who want to play guitar and play extreme music.

In regards to her career in metal music, she first came into the scene when she was recruited to join Death Metal band Winterthrall in 2003 as their guitarist and also doing backing vocals, leaving the band two years later. It was in September 2005 that she finally joined The Iron Maidens, right after the departure of guitarist and co-founder Josephine Draven, becoming the female version of Adrian Smith named “Adrianne Smith”. Despite leaving the band one year later, in October 2006, Elizabeth rejoined them in June 2010 in a guest appearance as “Deena Murray”. There’s a full concert of The Iron Maidens with Elizabeth on the guitar on YouTube, recorded on August 25, 2006 at Vinnie’s Bar & Grill in Concord, California, which might not be a high-quality footage but at least you can have a pretty good idea of how awesome she sounds playing all the mighty classics from Iron Maiden.

It was in 2006 when Elizabeth formed the band Manslaughter together with drummer Mike Caffell, recording that same year the EP Through the Eyes of Insanity. Following a brief tour, our raven-haired bombshell and Mike renamed the band to Dreaming Dead, recording the albums Within One in 2009, Midnightmares in 2012, and Funeral Twilight (which will soon be reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose) now in 2017. In all three records she was responsible for vocals and guitar, but in Within One our daredevil musician also recorded bass guitar and wrote all lyrics, proving how talented she is and how destined she was to heavy music. If you want to have a good taste of the havoc Elizabeth and Dreaming Dead are capable of generating, you should take a good listen at potent compositions like Midnightmares (you can check the official video for it at the end of this essay), Overlord and Buried.

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There are several other bands and projects where we can find Elizabeth shredding her axe, most of them related to Death Metal with hints of other extreme (and even not-so-extreme) subgenres of heavy music. Since 2013 she has been part of American Death Metal/Grindcore band Cretin, blasting her vicious riffs and solos in songs such as It from their 2014 album Stranger, and since 2014 she’s also been the guitarist for American Death/Thrash/Groove Metal project Dia de los Muertos.  In addition, you can also enjoy Elizabeth on lead guitar on  the song My Secret Things, from the 2012 album Horny Beast by American Heavy Metal/Deathrock band Lover of Sin; her backing vocals on the Cacophony cover Burn the Ground, from the 2008 album Future Addict, by the Progressive Rock/Metal solo project led by renowned guitarist Marty Friedman; and on piano on the 2012 album Results, by American Death Metal/Grindcore band Murder Construct (a side-project of members from Exhumed and Cattle Decapitation). If playing the guitar, the piano and singing is not enough for you, how about her work as a photographer in the 2013 album The Dead Still Dead Remain (a completely re-recorded version of the 2000 full-length The Dead Shall Dead Remain featuring the return of Leon del Muerte), by American Death Metal band Impaled? That’s how skillful our badass Elizabeth is.

Elizabeth, who by the way used to be married to Charles Elliott, lead singer and guitarist for American Death Metal band Abysmal Dawn, cites Swedish musician Peter Tägtgren (Hipocrisy, Pain) and American guitar hero Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore) among her main influences, as well as renowned acts like Cryptopsy, Metallica, and the aforementioned Megadeth and Slayer. If you want to take a look at how our stunning guitar player deals with her beloved instrument, you can watch this high quality video of Elizabeth setting up and tuning her guitar, where she reviews tools, changing strings, tuning (from B to E standard), action and intonation, or also this other video where she talks about and demos her favorite Fernandes guitar and the Fernandes Sustainer.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this short but humble tribute to the amazing Elizabeth is the list of her favorite guitar riffs published on Decibel Magazine in July 2012, where she commented on the most impactful and meaningful riffs in her life, the ones that helped shape up her style and enhanced her relationship with her instrument. In the article you’ll be able to see exactly which riffs from specific songs she loves the most, blending metal and non-metal acts on her list. Obviously, as this is a Heavy Metal webzine, we need to highlight the presence of unmatched classics like Megadeth’s Tornado of Souls (by the way, she said she’s crazy about all the riffs in this masterpiece), Emperor’s The Tongue Of Fire, Type O Negative’s Love You To Death, and my favorite of all by far, Iron Maiden’s all-time classic Aces High. However, you’ll also find other interesting riffs from non-metal acts on her list, such as Los Prisioneros’ Estrechez de Corazon (80’s Chilean alternative pop) and Soundgarden’s Jesus Christ Pose. Well, there’s of course one of her own riffs on the list, the one from the chorus of the song Overlord by Dreaming Dead, but that’s more than expected when the musician in question is extremely talented and her music kicks some serious ass.

Elizabeth Schall’s Official Facebook page
Elizabeth Schall’s Official Twitter
Elizabeth Schall’s Official YouTube channel
Elizabeth Schall’s Official ReverbNation
Dreaming Dead’s Official Facebook page
Dreaming Dead’s Official Twitter
Dreaming Dead’s Official ReverbNation

“I like to think I live in a world where my gender has nothing to do with what I am capable of doing. You go onto YouTube and see 13-year old girls shredding out on metal songs.” – Elizabeth Schall

Metal Chick of the Month – Elena Vladi

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I’m coming down to feel you, to touch you, to be you, to kill…

Ladies and gentlemen, the heavy music scene in Hollywood, one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world located in the central region of Los Angeles, California in the United States, has recently crowned a new queen, and we all shall bow to her beauty, to her loveliness, and in special to her kick-ass music. Hailing from Mother Russia, here comes the multi-talented artist Elena Vladimirova, better known as Elena Vladi, the lead singer of Nu-Metal act Red Queen and a woman that knows better than anyone else how to provide a fiery fusion of stunning looks and electrifying music, making the work from such distinguished woman even more delectable. The Russian Red Queen is among us, and your life will never be the same again after being infected by her scrumptious venom.

Like any true queen of darkness and lust, there’s little to none information available online about the personal life of Elena, which makes perfect sense for a woman that wants to keep mystery as one of the main ingredients in her promising career. All we know is that she relocated from Russia to the United States in a not-so-distant past and joined her partner in crime Patrick Crisci in order to form what used to be known as Experimental Hybrid Black Metal project Demona Mortiss, but that gradually morphed to Nu-Metal band Red Queen. Let’s say that the band, which used to play a dark fusion containing elements from Gothic, Doom and Death Metal the likes of Tristania and Dimmu Borgir, is now highly recommended for fans of Slipknot, Korn, Deftones and Lacuna Coil, just to give you a better idea of the remarkable change in their sonority through time.

Before we talk about Elena Vladi in more detail, let’s take a quick look at the history of Red Queen. Previously known as Demona Mortiss, the project was created by Elena in 2009 as an Experimental Hybrid Black Metal project as already mentioned, obtaining a significant amount of followers in a short span of time, especially in Europe, before officially changing the name in 2013 to Red Queen. Demona Mortiis were Elena on vocals and synths, Patrick on guitars and Trent Gouveia on drums, and although there are no official albums under the name Demona Mortiis you can still enjoy some of their blackened compositions on YouTube like Lost, Inverted Heaven and Phasmophobia, this one live at the Viper Room in Los Angeles in January 2013.

Not only the name of the project and music direction changed in Red Queen, but the lineup also suffered a few changes. Red Queen are now only Elena on vocals synths and lyrics, and Patrick on guitars, synths, bass and drums, also being responsible for the overall production of the band, with guest musician Grey Soto playing some guitar parts in a couple of songs. This dynamic duo released back in April 2016 their debut EP entitled Star Blood, containing five classy and sexy songs (Asyphyx, Naked, Star Ruby, Insidious and Alchemy), as well as an amazing cover version for Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me, the classic 1995 single by Irish Rock icons U2 from the Batman Forever soundtrack album. If you want to take a better listen to Star Blood and purchase it, you can go to Red Queen’s official webstore or BandCamp page, and also find it on iTunes. When asked about what inspired her to write the music found in Star Blood, Elena said she gets her inspiration from movies and books, from the cosmos and a variety of “conspiracy theories”, and from her own emotions, always aiming at intriguing people. Well, let’s say she succeeded in that hands down, and if you want to know more details about Red Queen you can check this short and sweet 2015 Q&A interview with Elena Vladi and Patrick Crisci, and also listen to their music at their YouTube channel and ReverbNation page.

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Apart from her career with Demona Mortiis and Red Queen, our Russian bombshell can be seen as a guest musician in distinct projects that have almost nothing to do with the musicality bred by Red Queen, showcasing her versatility as an artist and her will to go beyond any boundaries that she might face in terms of creativity and experimentation. For instance, her stunning voice embellishes the chaos found in the song You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying, from the 2012 album Vanitas by British Industrial Black Metal/Grindcore band Anaal Nathrakh, as well as in two composition from the 2012 albums Evolution and (R)Evolution, by American Electronic duo Blood on the Dance Floor, those being Love Conquers All and La Petite Morte (The Little Death), respectively.

Albeit music might be the primary focus in her life, our Gothic diva also extends all her talent to fashion modeling and graphic and web designing for living, also being proficient at tarot, rune and aura reading, as well as other forms of divination, chakra balancing and necromancy. In addition to all that, Elena lets her geek side flourish through her admiration for Astronomy, String Theory and Quantum Physics, not to mention she also excels in guidance to Spiritual Ascension. And as many other female metallers such as Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, our voluptuous queen doesn’t eat meat and considers veganism a part of human evolution. In case you’re curious to see Elena modeling instead of singing, click HERE to watch a short clip of when Elena was invited to participate in a cover shoot for volume 34, issue #33 of LA Weekly (released on July 5, 2012), for a special article entitled “Everything You Wanted to Know About Metal” (which is obviously not true, but as that’s not our main goal in this essay let’s simply ignore that). Pay attention to the music in this video, as it’s Elena and her Demona Mortiis playing a beautiful cover version for Confide in Me, by Australian singer Kylie Minogue. The great success achieved by the cover with Elena translated into this specific issue being the best-selling one of 2012. You can enjoy the read by clicking HERE and going directly to page 55, titled ALL HAIL “Metal subgenres explained, from thrash to pornogrind”.

Her passion for modeling can also be seen in the underground publication Gothic Beauty, as for example in their issue #42 when Elena was the cover girl of the magazine, and in tons of pictures modeling for Heavy Red, a Los Angeles-based fashion company established in 1999 by lead designer Tyler Ondine specialized in Gothic fashion and sexually sophisticated clothing, always aiming at being the cutting edge of Gothic clothing including corsets, dresses, gowns, shirts, skirts, coats, hoodies, club wear, lingerie and jewelry. Elena has been one of the faces of the company since relocating to the United States, helping Heavy Red achieve a new level of elegance and darkness in line with the company’s vision of Couture Noir.

The “Russian Queen of Nu-Metal” also focuses her efforts in improving the merch store at the official Red Queen website, working on getting more skirt and other clothing designs for the fans of the band. Furthermore, Elena is also planning on opening her own jewelry shop, named Vladi Fashion Jewelry, where she’ll sell her trial collection of royal necklaces and will expand into rings and more jewelry options later. She thinks every woman (including herself) loves jewelry, and therefore she wants to share her vision of beautiful designs with other women through her new store. And if you think that’s already a lot coming from only one woman, let me tell you that she is also trying to find time for her side project under her name, which according to Elena would be quite mellow and electronic, and fully written and produced by herself. I guess we can never get enough of our stunning queen, don’t you agree? And sorry to say that, Elena, but it looks like the less free time you have for yourself, the better it is for us fans.

Elena Vladi’s Official Facebook page
Elena Vladi’s Official Twitter
Elena Vladi’s Official Instagram
Red Queen’s Official Facebook page
Red Queen’s Official Twitter
Red Queen’s Official VKontakte page

“I am a full blooded Russian… Russians are crazy, we all know that, I expect respect and you shall receive the same in return…” – Elena Vladi

Metal Chick of the Month – Sasha Zagorc

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Heavy metal lives in me!

If one day you have the pleasure of visiting the stunning country of Slovenia (in case you haven’t done so already), you’ll be able to admire several distinguished attractions such as the unique Postojna Cave, the awe-inspiring Lake Bled and the Bled Castle, the Škocjan Caves and, in case you have just one single day in the capital Ljubljana, you can have a relaxing walk through the city’s charming streets and savor the exquisite tastes offered by all of its fancy restaurants. Hence, as a tribute to this wonderful country, to its culture and its people, there’s nothing better than kicking off another year at The Headbanging Moose than with the gorgeous and “louder than hell” Slovenian bassist Sasha Zagorc (or Saša Zagorc in proper Slovene), the songwriter, manager and leader of Slovenia’s own all-female Heavy Metal band Hellcats.

Born on July 22, 1986 in the city of Ljubljana, Sasha started playing classical guitar at a very early age in music school together with her sister Sonja Zagorc, the drummer for Hellcats, who at that time was studying flute. When they finished music school, Sasha switched from classical guitar to bass guitar (also playing in a few local bands) and her sister from flute to drums (quite a change in terms of noise and impact), and then they decided to form their own all-female band. Well, I guess you know what happened next, and that’s where our tribute to this blonde bombshell will be focused on through the next few lines. Are you ready to rumble to the sound of the Heavy Metal by our headbanging diva Sasha and her kick-ass bandmates?

Apart from Sasha on bass guitar and backing vocals, and her sister Sonja on drums, the first all-female metal band from Slovenia is also formed by Katja Mavec on guitars and Dasha Makuc on vocals. The name of the band, which combines femininity with a strong Heavy Metal attitude, was suggested by a friend of Sasha who’s also a musician and an airplane aficionado. He named the band after the Grumman F6F Hellcat, a carrier-based fighter aircraft. Formed in their hometown Ljubljana in 2003, it wasn’t easy for the Hellcats to find many female musicians due to the small size of the Slovenian music scene, a country of only 2 million habitants. However, due to Slovenia’s high level of development, even metal music (a genre usually relegated to the underground as opposed to pop and folk music) has its space in the country’s rich culture, with MetalDays (formerly known as Metalcamp), a huge festival held annually in the city of Tolmin, being the driving force of Heavy Metal in Slovenian soil.

Despite being on the road for over 10 years, Sasha and the Hellcats have only recorded two albums so far, the first being their self-titled EP Hellcats, in 2011, followed by the full-length album Divja Pot (named Warrior Princess in the English version) in 2013. That doesn’t mean they don’t have enough material already for a powerful live concert, which seems to be the thing they love the most in life. The band has already performed in several festivals such as Metalcamp in Slovenia, Viva la Pola festival in Croatia, Metal Franconia in Germany, and several TV and radio shows. For instance, in 2012 the Hellcats were invited to tour Russia, where among all the cities they played their most memorable moments were being one of the main attractions at the female bands rock festival named Zheleznye Devy (or “Iron Girls”), in the city of Kaluga, and performing at the music festival named Jelen Demofest, in Banja Luka. Hellcats achieved 4th place among more than 400 groups, becoming the highest placed foreign band ever at the festival.

If you want to see the lovely Sasha in action together with the Hellcats, there are a few official videos on YouTube in both Slovene and English, those being the Power Metal tune Steelrider (or Divja Pot in Slovene), the sexy Demons Dreams (or Sanjam Demone), the high-octane song Now Is My Time (or Prerojena), and the kick-ass hymn I Am (or Naprej). As a huge admirer of old school Heavy Metal, I personally prefer their more straightforward compositions, which emanate electricity, blood and passion. How not to get thrilled to the sound of Proud To Be Loud or Hellcats, or even better, to their first ever single and best song to date, the awe-inspiring Heavy Metal? The song’s Manowar-inspired lyrics (“Heavy metal lives in me / The hell between will set me free / Heavy metal lives in me / The ones who fake it can just leave”) are a thing of beauty. In addition, there are even a few live videos of those awesome songs online, as for example these live versions of Hellcats and Heavy Metal, recorded in 2013, and if you want to have a delicious overdose of Sasha you can take a look at this YouTube playlist, where you’ll find all official videos, some live performances, interviews, and special covers by Hellcats of icons such as Judas Priest, Doro and AC/DC.

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Perhaps the most organic and crisp performance available online by the Hellcats is their participation in a radio show called Metalmorfoza on November 15, 2014 at the Studio Hendrix for a radio station named Radio Koper. In case you do not have enough time to watch the full show, you can get a taste of the amazing rumbling bass lines by Sasha in the song Vladar Noči, live at that same program. An alternative way to enjoy the music by the Hellcats is on a program called Na Sceni, recorded on October 29, 2013 at the Slovenian channel RTV 4, but let me warn you that if you do not speak Slovene the only thing you’ll be able to understand is the music and nothing else.

Our unstoppable bass player has always been a metalhead, always wearing her own black leather clothes anywhere she goes, being highly influenced by heavy, thrash and hard rock behemoths like Pantera, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica and AC/DC, among others. Shasa mentioned in one of her interviews that she and her sister grew up listening to those bands, helping them to become who they are today. She also mentioned her biggest motivation to write music is life itself, with their compositions being filled with optimism, energy, love, passion and strength. When asked about which language she prefers singing, if English or Slovene, Sasha said they let their emotions lead them, it doesn’t matter if it’s in one language or another, all depending on which one better suits the message and feeling of the music. As an example, she cited the single Heavy Metal, sung entirely in Slovene and being a big success among metalheads all over the world.

Having a band provides our blonde metaller some well-deserved relaxation, and she loves going on tour with her best friends. Sasha said it’s not hard for them to keep the band going forward, as they love what they do. That’s the main reason why during the auditions for the missing band members when the band started, she and Sonja were not only trying to find the right musicians, but they were also looking for good personalities to get along with and to become friends with as well. In her own words, she thinks this is very important for female bands, because “girls like to chat more than guys”. You can take a listen at a short clip with Sasha HERE, where she talks to BBC about how challenging it is to maintain an all-girl metal band, and if you want to know more about her role in the band and how she learned to headbang, among other topics, click HERE for a 30-minute interview with Sasha and the unparalleled bassist Doris Yeh (Chthonic). For instance, did you know Sasha is a professional architect and graphic designer, as at least for now Hellcats cannot make a living out of music itself?

When asked about how she envisions her career with the Hellcats in the next five to ten years, Sasha provided an answer that, albeit a little cliché, is exactly everything we want to hear from a true Heavy Metal band anytime, anywhere. “In the next five to ten years from now we see Hellcats touring and performing on big stages and to be more and more successful every year and to have more and more fans. Our biggest wish is to tour the Europe first and then go to the USA”, said our metal diva. Let’s hope her dreams come true, and that she includes Canada on her tour when the Hellcats come to North America, or we will riot.

Sasha Zagorc’s Official Facebook page
Hellcats’ Official Facebook page
Hellcats’ Official Twitter
Hellcats’ Official Instagram

“Our music is about love, desires, passion and strength. Our songs are filled with optimism and energy. We have a lot to tell and we want people to feel good when they listen to our music.” – Sasha Zagorc

Metal Chick of the Month – Nicole Ansperger

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One last silver kiss before the last string decays…

We’ve already had some incredible vocalists, guitarists, bassists, keyboardists, drummers and even a saxophonist here at The Headbanging Moose among our metal chicks to properly celebrate the power and importance of women in heavy music, but never a musician like the one selected to conclude the year of 2016. Can you think of anything more unconventional (and charming) than a stunning female fiddler playing kick-ass Heavy Metal? That’s exactly the case with German bombshell Nicole Ansperger, a high-skilled mistress of Celtic Folk fiddling known for her contributions to different groups and projects such as Swiss Folk Metal band Eluveitie, German Folk Rock group Paddy Goes To Holyhead, German Folk Punk band Across the Border and German Neo-Classical Metal orchestra Haggard.

Born in 1981 in the beautiful city of Stuttgart, Germany, our talented fiddler said her strong passion for playing music came to light after listening to the music by Italian composer and virtuoso violinist Antonio Vivaldi, famous for his highly-acclaimed series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. At the age of 6, she became a student of violinist George Moradian, who knew exactly how to help her develop her style and utilize all her natural potential, always by practicing famous pieces by masters such as Vivaldi and Bach and adding her own style to those. Then, at the age of nineteen, instead of becoming part of an orchestra she ended up joining her first Folk Rock band, learning then how to do improvisations, her true passion in music. Nicole never really thought about following a career playing the violin, it was just a hobby for her at first, but since 2005 she has been involved in so many bands, projects and concerts that she was able to turn music into her main profession.

Due to a guest visit with the famous band The Hooters, she was discovered by German Folk Rock band Paddy Goes To Holyhead in 2005, later joining Folk Punk band Across the Border in 2008 and recording two albums with them, named Loyalty (2009) and Folkpunk Air-Raid (2011). In addition to that, she played several concerts with German Symphonic Metal band Haggard in 2013, such as the one and only Wacken Open Air. You can have a good time listening to her solid performances with those bands on many YouTube videos, such as Across The Border’s Loyalty, Fucked Up World and Übers Meer / Rio Reiser, as well as Paddy Goes To Holyhead’s Far Away and Great Song of Whiskey. Apart from those bands, she also played violin in the 2006 album Fairy and the Dragon (a project of Jo Naumann from Paddy Goes To Holyhead), she was a guest violinist in the 2014 album Wegweiser, by Swiss Melodic Death/Folk Metal band Abinchova as you can witness in the excellent tune Flaschengeistand she also played violin on Winter’s Judgement, by Italian band Misteyes, from their 2016 album Creeping Time.

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However, it was in 2013 when she became a member of Eluveitie that she finally conquered the world of heavy music, replacing Meri Tadić on the violin and cello on December 11 of that year, having recorded with those Swiss metallers the singles King (her solo on this tune is simply superb) and The Call of the Mountains, and the full-length album Origins, all in 2014. And in case you want to see one of her violin solos with Eluveitie, I suggest you take a listen at this soulful one announcing her first full gig with Eluveitie. When asked about how she was invited to join Eluveitie, Nicole said she was at a concert and met a guy who knew the band, who then asked her if she would be interested in playing with them. Obviously, her answer was positive, and the guy got her in contact with Swiss multi-instrumentalist Chrigel Glanzmann, the mastermind behind Eluveitie, to whom she provided some of her demos. I guess I don’t need to say how good those demos were and what resulted out of that, right? Sadly, due to her family situation, our talented fiddler had to leave Eluveitie on August 3, 2015, as it became impossible for her to be on the road with the band constantly. The departure was very harmonious, though. “Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to manage personal obligations and take care of a family alongside a life of constant touring, and Nicole’s priorities are with her family – where they should be. We are parting amicably and would like to thank Nicole for the good times and her musical contribution. It’s been an honour to share stage and studio with such a talented musician!”, commented Eluveitie, while Nicole complemented saying that “this certainly doesn‘t mean an end to my musical career. Music will always be a very important part of my life and who knows – maybe we‘ll see each other again one day.” And guess what? It didn’t take too long for Nicole and Eluveitie to meet again. For our total delight, she rejoined the band in the middle of 2016, already playing several summer festivals with the band, including the always fantastic Wacken Open Air.

When asked about her biggest challenge from all bands she has already played in her career, she mentioned the time she played with Haggard, mainly the first few gigs like the very first one in Mexico, when she had only one week to practice the entire set and hadn’t met anyone from the band before. And although she has played most of her career in Germany, she said she still wants to visit lots of different countries, naming Australia as one of her desired destinations. Finally, before you complain that I haven’t mentioned her biggest idols in heavy music, here they are to conclude this tribute to the talented Nicole! When she was a teenager, she mentioned she used to listen a lot to old school bands such as Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, switching to more contemporary and intricate groups like Opeth and Dream Theater in recent years. Well, no matter what, we have to admit our gracious Nicole has indeed an amazing taste for music.

Equipment
Diamo Carbon Violin
Viper 7 String Wood Violin
Acoustic Violin with Magnetic Pickup
Accoustic Cello Rouen 2008
Audioprotect/Vision Inear

Nicole Ansperger’s Official Facebook page

Metal Chick of the Month – Esthibaliz Rojas

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Oh mother night put thy arms around me…

Fans of Symphonic Metal with operatic vocals, rejoice! Let me introduce you to one of the most promising and accomplished female singers in the entire Latin America, a woman who, despite being really young at age, has already built a respectful career and a more than solid background in music, which obviously translates into pure delight when she hits the stage and treats us with her potent and delicate vocals. Her real full name is Rebeca Estibaliz Ramos Rojas, but you might already know her by Esthibaliz RojasEstibaliz Ramos or even by her artistic nickname Esthibaliz Bathory, a stylish wordplay with her own name and the name of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. Well, let’s say that this vampirical moniker totally suits our charming and metallic diva, and I’ll show you why.

Born on October 4, 1983 in Mexico City, capital of the always fun country of Mexico, and raised in a small family by her mother, grandmother and older brother, our talented Mexican lyric-coloratura soprano (who’s also an actress, composer and teacher) has nurtured a profound passion for performing arts since she was a little girl, taking part in school choirs and “estudiantinas” (or student music groups), studying classical dance and watching musical plays with great interest, especially the ones from English composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. At the age of 15 she was advised by her friends and family that she should take singing lessons and pursue a professional career in music, and that’s exactly what she did by studying for two years at the Escuela Superior de Composición y Arreglo Musical (ESCAM), and by getting a bachelor’s degree in singing at the Escuela Superior de Música (CNA). In addition, Esthibaliz has also taken private singing classes with Mexican soprano Guadalupe Pérez Arias and with Mexican-Italian mezzo-soprano Eugenia Sutti. During her studies, she already started her career in music by joining the Sociedad Coral Cantus Hominum, a symphonic choir led by Mexican tenor Leonardo Villeda.

However, if there’s one type of music that truly touches her heart, it’s our beloved Heavy Metal, especially its subgenres Symphonic and Progressive Metal as they represent the perfect fusion of opera and metal music, with bands such as Rhapsody (or Rhapsody of Fire), Dream Theater and Nightwish becoming an important part of her life and the biggest inspiration for her career. It was then in 2006 when she replied to an ad requesting a female singer for a Gothic Rock band that she met guitarist Christian García, who invited her to join Mexican Gothic Metal band Erszebeth, leading to the recording of the album La Condesa Inmortal (or “The Immortal Countess”, in English) in 2007, and the album Equilibrio in 2013. By the way, all lyrics and vocal melodies found in Equilibrio were written by Esthibaliz. If you want to take a listen at the music by Erszebeth, simply go to YouTube where you’ll find excellent songs such as Equilibrio.

In 2008, Esthibaliz started a relationship with singer and composer Mario del Rio, founder and leader of the bands Oblivion Requiem and Rip Rapunzel, consequently becoming the female singer for Rip Rapunzel and releasing in 2010 their first album entitled Broken Tales. For instance, you can listen to her beautiful voice with Rip Rapunzel in the song Corazon de Plomo, and with Oblivion Requiem she recorded the song Time to Say Goodbye, for the 2008 album Sampler Carpe Noctem Vol. 1. As a matter of fact, there are so many other bands, projects and live performances where we can admire the gentle vocals by Esthibaliz it’s hard to name all of them without forgetting a few, but I’ll try my best. Our Mexican diva has already lent her voice to the eccentric project Dueto Amaterasu, as you can see in the song Terra (Wanderer of Time), from Final Fantasy VI; doing vocals and choirs in a Mexican project focused on cover songs named Los Abortos De Tu Jefa; singing the song In Dreams live in 2008 with Mexican Heavy Metal band Exsecror Vecordia, and recording the studio song Soledad, from the 2009 album Escapulario by Mexican Gothic Rock band Vía Dolorosa; as well as participating in the personal project by Oswaldo de León, guitarist for Mexican group La Castañeda.

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Perhaps the most promising project/band in heavy music featuring Esthibaliz nowadays is Mexican/Argentine Symphonic Metal band Melphomene, and this one deserves a more detailed explanation so distinct it is. In Greek mythology, Melpomene (without the “h”) is one of the two theater Muses, initially being the Muse of singing and musical harmony but later being recognized as the Muse of Tragedy. A myth says that Melpomene had all the riches that a woman could have, such as beauty, money and men, but even having it all she could not be happy, leading to the true drama of life. This is the perfect depiction of the music played by Melphomene, which can be testified in songs such as Mother Night and Maiden & Death, and many others in their official YouTube channel.

Apart from all those metal and non-metal bands, our Mexican beauty has also taken part in several plays and musicals, only showcasing how limitless her talent and passion for music and arts are. In 2010, she played a role in “Alicia Más Allá Del Espejo” by Adrian Gallardo, and adaptation of the 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll; and in 2012, Philip von Reutter, director and founder of  “Canto en Movimiento”, invites her to be part of their cast for a series of presentations in Florence, Italy, becoming part of their coaching team (one of her favorite duties, by the way) in 2013 and getting ready to perform the plays “Verdi Ritrovato” and “Future Sound” in London, England that same year.

And in case you thought she would simply settle down after all that, you might be surprised with everything else she’s also engaged in. In 2011, Esthibaliz becomes interested in the Speech Level Singing technique, learning its vocal technique, style, scenic expression and contemporary interpretation at the International Vocal Training school founded by Seth Riggs and Michael Jackson. In addition to that, she also joined the Centro Cultural Virginia Fábregas to begin a career in Musical Comedy, taking theatrical dancing, Jazz, tap, ballet, acting, vocal and speech classes. Well, it looks like there isn’t a limit for our tenacious “mamacita” when it comes to expanding her boundaries in music and arts.

Lastly, if you know Spanish or if you’re studying it and already have a relatively good understanding of the language, there is a 20-minute interview Esthibaliz gave to a program called CINECAFÉ & + in 2015 where she talks about her personal life and career in a nice and relaxed way. Although I could have translated everything she’s talking about and made your lives a little easier, I won’t do that because I consider this a great motivation for you all to learn one of the top languages in the world. I guess watching the gorgeous Esthibaliz talking about heavy music and arts in her mother tongue for 20 minutes beats any grammar book hands down, no matter how good the book might be, don’t you agree? And as today, November 2, is the popular Mexican holiday named “Día de los Muertos” (or “Day of the Dead” in English), why not enjoying Esthibaliz providing her own medley for Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen themes as part of the celebrations? Or maybe you prefer watching our screaming diva unleashing hell in her cover version for the unparalleled classic Nemesis, by Arch Enemy, or even Chop Suey, by System Of A Down? There’s a lot more to relish at her official YouTube channel, in case you’re interested in seeing more of our Mexican babe in action. I’m sure you’ll have a very good time enjoying Esthibaliz and her unique voice, no doubt about that.

Esthibaliz Rojas’ Official Facebook page
Esthibaliz Rojas’ Official YouTube channel
Esthibaliz Rojas’ Official Twitter
Esthibaliz Rojas’ Official Instagram
Erszebeth’s Official Facebook page
Melphomene’s Official Facebook page

Metal Chick of the Month – Heidi Shepherd & Carla Harvey

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Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages… Step right up and get your tickets to the greatest show on earth!

Love them or hate them, we all must admit that the two female metallers chosen to celebrate the third anniversary of The Headbanging Moose have a strong influence on contemporary Heavy Metal due to their unique (and aggressive) attitude, which obviously includes their sexy looks and fiery and chaotic music. They deal with their sexuality more naturally than we prepare a simple orange juice, and although some people might consider their work futile or even too obscene, let’s not forget that heavy music is above all things a form of art where artists can freely express their thoughts, ideals and beliefs through their compositions and, in many cases like for example in Black Metal, through their image. Besides, their music is a billion times better than anything Lady Gaga does, a woman who calls herself a true metal fan but in reality keeps playing second-class meaningless pop stuff. With that said, let’s raise our horns to frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, the dynamic duo responsible for the amusing blend of violence and rebelliousness bred by American Metalcore/Groove Metal band Butcher Babies.

Before we talk about each “butcher baby” in more details, let me provide you a short and sweet overview of this Alternative Metal band from Los Angeles, California in case you have never heard of them in your life. Formed in 2010, Butcher Babies probably have one of the most solid lineups in the history of heavy music despite being just a few years old. Apart from Heidi and Carla, the band is also made up by guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner, all still playing together since the band’s inception and, based on how healthy their relationship is, that’s the way things are going to be for many years to come. The name of the band came from the song Butcher Baby by American Punk Rock band Plasmatics, spearheaded by the iconic singer, songwriter and actress Wendy O. Williams. Both Heidi and Carla acknowledge how important Wendy O. Williams was (and still is) for the increasing acceptance of women in heavy music, which is one of the reasons why they wear such eccentric attire during their live performances including wearing nothing but black tape over their nipples (albeit they’ve ditched it in recent years).

Despite their short period of existence so far, the band has already released the single Blonde Girls All Look The Same in 2011, the EP Butcher Babies in 2012, their first full-length album Goliath in 2013, another EP entitled Uncovered in 2014 and finally their most recent full-length album, Take It Like a Man, in 2015. You can have lots of fun with their music and sexiness in songs such as They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!, Igniter, Magnolia Blvd, Mr. Slowdeath, Dead Man Walking, I Smell a Massacre, Gravemaker and The Butcher, or you can simply enjoy their entire 40-minute performance at the always superb Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belguim in 2015. There are also tons of cool interviews with Heidi and Carla on YouTube, such as backstage interviews at Knotfest in 2014 and at Rockstar Mayhem Tour in 2013; their explanation for abandoning the nipple tape and covering up; a nice interview for Metal Hammer at Soundwave 2015 where they talk about hugging koala bears, fighting kangaroos and their adventures in Australia; an interview to German channel BunchTV in 2011 still with the nipple tapes; and a very relaxed interview to FeMetalTV in 2015.

HEIDI SHEPHERD

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Enough said already, now it’s all about the girls. Let’s begin with the sometimes blonde, sometimes red-headed hurricane Heidi Shepherd, the woman accountable for the high-pitched screams and growls for Butcher Babies. Born on April 17, 1985 in Utah, United States, Heidi is more than “just” a metal singer, being also a radio DJ, actress and casting director best known for the 2008 thriller Animals and the TV series MANswers, as well as minor parts and uncredited appearances in different shows such as My Name Is Earl, Ghots Whisperer and CSI: NY.

Heidi, who by the way is the oldest of 6 kids, grew up in Provo, Utah, the third largest city in the state and located around 43 miles south of Salt Lake City, where she attended Provo High School, graduating in 2003. Still in high school, believe it or not Heidi was an accomplished track and field athlete, even traveling to Russia to participate in the Junior Olympics. She also graduated from Southern Utah University, where once again she showcased all her athleticism participating in competitions such as high jump and long jump. Also, as a girl raised in the Mormon religion, Heidi has a very interesting view of the concept of Heaven and Hell, stating those are things the human being made up to make ourselves feel comfortable about the afterlife, something to give people a purpose and life goals.

In regards to her passion for music and how it helped her become a better person, our unrestrained vocalist said music was basically the only thing she could relate to in her childhood, having as her personal heroes distinct names such as Slipknot, Wendy O. Williams, Gwen Stefani and Joan Jett, most of them being females that defy the male dominance in music as you can see. However, it’s Slipknot, a top to bottom male band, who had the strongest influence on her vocal style and stage performance, saying when she saw a picture of them for the first time (she was around 12 or 13 only) it really scared her but intrigued her at the same time. Once a girl who developed an intense fear of the dark, Heidi learned to embrace fear and use it in her creative process through the years, something we can definitely connect to what Slipknot aim with their unique approach.

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If you think she’s a party girl who doesn’t sleep at all and drinks every alcoholic beverage in sight, you’re absolutely wrong. Well, of course she always has her share of fun, but Heidi mentioned already in different interviews that if she doesn’t get enough sleep every night her live performances suffer a truly negative impact. On top of that, Heidi said that despite loving whiskey she can’t drink it on the road anymore, as the effect of the alcohol hurts her vocal chords, so she saves it for when she gets back home. If you’re a singer I’m sure you can relate to that, because you can be tired and drunk and still play a guitar, for example, but the impact alcohol can have on your vocals can be devastating without any doubt.

Lastly, as a lover of horror flicks and a believer of supernatural and paranormal forces, which in my opinion is an excellent source of inspiration for the type of music played by Butcher Babies, Heidi mentioned that among her favorite recent movies we can find titles like the new Evil Dead, V/H/S and V/H/S/2, You’re Next and The Purge, all pretty decent films with interesting storylines, don’t you think? And who knows, maybe it’s time for a slasher movie with a main female character named “Heidi the Butcher”, who not only chops and dismembers her victims, but does that screaming like a maniac while listening to some vicious heavy music. Or maybe it should be a sanguinary duo of Heidi and Carla? Read the rest of this essay and take your own conclusions.

Heidi Shepherd’s Official Facebook page
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Twitter
Heidi Shepherd’s Official Instagram

“There’s no reason why girls can’t get up there and rock just as hard as, if not harder than, the boys. And I’m so happy to say that I’m seeing a movement.” – Heidi Shepherd

CARLA HARVEY

carla01Of course Butcher Babies wouldn’t be complete without the charisma of the daredevil vocalist, author and actress Carla Harvey. Born on October 4, 1976 in Detroit, Michigan, United States, Carla is what we can call a very successful “experiment” as she is of Ethiopian, Finnish, Irish and Italian background, and her contribution to Butcher Babies comes in the form of hellish growls deeper than the screams by Heidi, endless energy on stage and some of the weirdest faces you can think of. Put differently, when Carla is performing with the band, she becomes a true female demon like Lilith, for example.

Carla attended Glenn Levey Middle School in Southfield, Michigan, before going to Mercy High School (an all-girl private Catholic school) and Harrison High School, both in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Her first job in Hollywood was as an Entertainment Reporter for the Playboy Channel, also taking part in several movies such as Frankenstein vs. the Creature from Blood Cove (2005), Happy in the Valley (2009) and Dry Run (2010), and other TV shows like Root of All Evil, Sex Chronicles and, just like her partner Heidi, MANswers. In addition, she took a break from the entertainment world to earn a degree in Mortuary Science from Cypress College in California, and worked as an embalmer and funeral director before forming Butcher Babies.

Our raven-haired (with some blue nuances) brawler said she’s been into music since she was a little kid, playing instruments like guitar and bass but always knowing she was born to be a singer. Her first appearance in a band happened when she was around 17 years old, but it wasn’t until Butcher Babies were born that she reached true stardom. Among her main influences, we can find kick-ass names like Slayer and Slipknot, with Slash and Jimi Hendrix being her personal heroes especially due to their roots. As a biracial girl growing in Detroit, seeing musicians that were also of African-American descent playing the music she loved was essential for her to keep pursuing her dreams and overcoming the odds imposed by society on her. Another huge influence on her vocal style and onstage performance in the one and only Phil Anselmo, the iconic frontman from Pantera and Down, who she has admired since she was a kid, highlighting how humble and easy-going he is as a person after finally being able to meet him on the road.

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Heavily influenced by horror movies such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects (these two directed by another one of her idols, Rob Zombie), Carla is also passionate about writing, drawing and reading comic books since she was a kid, something that helped her cope with loneliness as an introverted child, and from that fusion of horror flicks, comics and Heavy Metal she became a “comic book mastermind” according to Hustler Magazine. Her first comic book, entitled Butcher Babies (illustrated by Anthony Winn from Deepcut Productions), was released at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, followed by her first full-length novel Death and Other Dances in 2014, and more recently the comic series Soul Sucka, the story about an African-American vampire, in 2015. Carla is always drawing “naked girls” and other stuff, and if you’re interested in taking a look at her work you can visit her Big Cartel page.

And finally, just like what was written about Heidi in terms of drinking and partying while on tour, Carla also said drinking lots of water and hot tea is what truly helps keep her vocal chords moist, together with the obvious and necessary amount of sleep per night. However, she mentioned she also enjoys drinking Jägermeister as it coats her throat rather than drying it out. Although I’m a beer guy, I’m an admirer of Jäger too and I understand perfectly what she’s trying to say about the effect of this exquisite German digestif on your throat. If your job requires you to cut off alcohol, all you have to do is improvise and find other alternatives. And it looks like being creative and always trying new stuff doesn’t scare our roaring metal babe at all.

Carla Harvey’s Official Facebook page
Carla Harvey’s Official Twitter
Carla Harvey’s Official Instagram

“I wish, some day people stop using the female fronted this, female fronted that, because it always takes the focus away from the band itself, because you know, we are all just Heavy Metal bands, we are all doing the same thing.” – Carla Harvey

Butcher Babies’ Official Facebook page
Butcher Babies’ Official Twitter
Butcher Babies’ Official Instagram

Metal Chick of the Month – Morgan Lacroix

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In your nightmares you will find me… In this twilight you will taste my embrace…

Whenever a female performer is selected to be the Metal Chick of the Month here at The Headbanging Moose, she’s not chosen only because of her skills as a musician, but mainly due to her significant contribution to the development of women in the world of heavy music. Having said that, it couldn’t be different this month with our metallic diva, the darkling Italian succubus Morgan Lacroix (or MorgaN LacroiX), the sexy frontwoman, lyricist, composer, producer and (why not?) lady vampire of Italian Gothic/Dark/Industrial Metal band Mandragora Scream (also spelled MandragorA ScreaM). Are you ready for a journey through the dark realms of vampirism with our enigmatic modern-day medusa?

It was more than obvious that I wouldn’t be able to find anything about Morgan’s age, place of birth or music background. We’re talking about a vampire, creatures that, above all things, must remain in the shadows and keep their lives as secret as possible. Well, as Mandragora Scream is a band from the comune of Lucca, located on the Serchio river in Italy’s Tuscany region and famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls, let’s assume she was also born in that same city. Whatever she did between being born and founding Mandragora Scream is something yet to be revealed by Morgan Lacroix herself, which means the focus will be solely on her career with the band.

Although Mandragora Scream were formed back in 1997 by Morgan, it was only in 1999 that the band released its debut self-titled demo containing four songs. Then in 2000 Morgan was introduced to Italian singer, guitarist and composer Terry Horn, and that artistic union resulted in their first full-length album, entitled Fairy Tales from Hell’s Caves, released in the year of 2001. According to the band, “Fairy Tales is definitely a concept album: a trip throughout the Dantean Hell, tormented by passion, anguish and insanity, where the character of Virgil is surprisingly replaced by an unusual bewitching vampire fairy.”

After that amazing debut, the band released the albums A Whisper of Dew (2003), Madhouse (2006), Volturna (2009) and Luciferland (2012), as well as the singles Jeanne d’Arc (2007) and From the Heart (2010), and a DVD named Dragonfly (2008), always providing us the lustful voice of our diva of darkness and also her own devilish touch to all lyrics, cover artwork, mixing, mastering, production and booklets. In addition, from those releases, A Whisper of Dew is also a concept album, centered on a vampire story purposely written for the band by Julio Angel Olivares Merino, horror-gothic literature writer and teacher of English Philosophy at the Spanish University of Jaén. Drawing inspiration from this tale, Lacroix composed the entire album lyrics. Also, in regards to their latest album Luciferland, there’s an interesting and extensive three-part interview on YouTube where both Morgan and Terry discuss about the album with Metal Hammer, which can be seen HERE, HERE and HERE.

Mandragora Scream are also featured on the international compilations Beauty in the Darkness Vol. 5 (2001), Mystic Art (2001), Nuclear Blast Vol. 6 (2001), Off Road Tracks Vol. 45 (2003) and Beautiful Voices (2005), toured with renowned dark bands Christian Death and The 69 Eyes in 2010 and with British Extreme Metal masters Cradle of Filth in 2011, and were the special guests in the 2010 edition of the Fantasy Horror Award. There are numerous videos on YouTube (and other platforms) where you can relish Morgan’s alluring vocals, sensuous moves and bewitching performance, as for instance in the songs A Vision They Shared, Blight Thrills, Medusa, Blindness, Breaking Dawn, Silent Lullabies, Bloody Ballade, the whimsical The Chant of Furies, and her awesome cover version for Cher’s Bang Bang, among others. Besides her work with Mandragora Scream, you can find Madame Lacroix lending her voice to the bonus song Watch Me Crawl Behind, from the 2012 album Happy Deathday by Greek Gothic Metal band SadDolls, and to the song The Promise, from the 2004 album Follow Me by Italian Power Metal band Wonderland.

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When asked in 2001 to provide more details about the history of Mandragora Scream, her explanation was beyond eccentric. In her own words, “The history of the name Mandragora Scream goes back to the medieval period. At that time witches used a root to make love and death potions called ‘Mandragora’.This root with man-shape was generated by the ejaculations of a hanged man and it needed to be pulled out from the earth with particular magic rites during full moon nights. When extracting the root from earth, witches had to be very careful not to break the arms or legs of the root, otherwise it would have screamed so loud to bring witches to death.” Interesting, isn’t it?

In regards to her unique style, our vampire queen mentioned her lyrics and the atmosphere found in her music reflect her soul, her life and her personality, preserving that way her own musical identity. Furthermore, Morgan grew up with fairy tales, in which she truly believes, feeling and living her own life like a fairy tale. In one of her old interviews, Morgan mentioned she wrote a book (probably in 2000) that is a fairy tale for her angels in the form of decadent poetry called “The Ballad Of The Angels”, but yet again I couldn’t find anything online about that book. It should be a very interesting and unusual reading, if that has ever been published, of course.

Another remarkable fact about her personal life is that she doesn’t actually feel Italian as her ancient blood is Transylvanian, and because of that she is fascinated with Dante’s La Divina Comedia (The Divine Comedy), considering it a masterpiece (who doesn’t?) as it deals with the dead and eternal pain.  And to make things even more complex, Morgan also loves the Scandinavian culture and is attracted to Vikings. Add to that her lovely obsession for fairy tales, and there you have one of the most distinctive and diverse fusion of topics you can think of.

Her favorite albums of all time are a classy mix of progressiveness, passion and liveliness, and do not expect to find anything too Gothic, modern or ghoulish on her list, as it includes Blackmore’s Night’s best album to date Shadow of the Moon, Dream Theater’s classic album Metropolis, Pink Floyd’s masterpiece The Dark Side of the Moon, King Crimson’s In the Wake of Poseidon, Yes’ Close to the Edge and Genesis’ Nursery Crime. In addition to that, she’s also a huge admirer of Queensrÿche and obviously of the vocals by Geoff Tate, especially the song Someone Else?, which she used to listen to when she started singing.

At long last, are you curious to know what the meaning of life and death is to our goddess of Dark Metal? Morgan firmly believes in reincarnation, which means life for her is a long path we are following and while we walk along this path we have to learn lessons, sometimes highly spiritual lessons. She completes her train of thought by saying that we always have to give our souls a chance to fly a little higher, closer to the divine, and that we could probably say that death is a little like “changing skin”. In my opinion, this is a stunning concept by an even more stunning diva of heavy music.

Morgan Lacroix’s Official Facebook page
Morgan Lacroix’s Official Twitter
Mandragora Scream’s Official Facebook page
Mandragora Scream’s Official Twitter

“Try and wake up the valiant warrior sleeping within you, he may have fallen asleep in one of your previous lives. And, first and foremost, don’t let your flesh be just food for worms.  Let there be someone with your blood after you, in this way you’ll be able to prove you did not live in vain and your image will be reflected by your heirs as if in a mirror.” – Morgan Lacroix

Metal Chick of the Month – Emmi Silvennoinen

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Aina sydämessäin oon… Neito pohjolan…

Brothers of the North, sharpen your swords and axes, grab your war hammers and shields, paint your faces with the colors of your Norse clans and be prepared to bleed in the battlefield fighting side by side with our Metal Chick of the Month, the lionhearted Finnish warrior Emmi Silvennoinen, former keyboardist for Finnish Epic Folk Metal band Ensiferum. If you dig Scandinavian girls and are also crazy for electrifying fighting chants, Emmi will certainly drive you moonstruck.

Born on April 9, 1988 in the city of Vantaa, Finland, the fourth most populated Finnish city and also part of the inner core of the Finnish Capital Region along with Helsinki, Espoo, and Kauniainen, Emmi stepped in as the keyboardist for Ensiferum for their live performances following the departure of Meiju Enho in September 2007, until she finally joined the band as their permanent keyboard player for the recording of the album From Afar, in 2009.

Before becoming part of Ensiferum’s metallic army, our gorgeous Scandinavian shieldmaiden was the keyboardist for a Finnish Melodic Death/Gothic Metal band named Exsecratus, from Helsinki, with whom she recorded the demo Execute, in 2006, and the full-length album Tainted Dreams, in 2007. Although the band doesn’t exist anymore, you can still enjoy Emmi’s impassioned keyboard notes embellishing the band’s sounding in interesting songs such as Under the Winter Moon, My Last Fight and Suicide. As you can see, Emmi used to play a completely different style than her work with Ensiferum, but that doesn’t mean her excellent skills behind the keyboards were less important or less effective for the music by Exsecratus.

As aforementioned, our Finnish “valkyrja” joined Ensiferum back in 2007 as the band’s keyboardist for all their upcoming live performances when in 2009 she finally got the full-time job with them, recording her first single with Ensiferum called From Afar, which is also the name of her first full-length album with the band, from 2009. From that album, one of the most interesting tracks is Twilight Tavern, which official video features live footage from the famous venue Nosturi, located in Helsinki. After that strong start, Emmi also recorded with Ensiferum the singles Stone Cold Metal (2010) and Burning Leaves (2012), the full-length album Unsung Heroes (2012), the fun Suomi Warmetal EP (2014), and more recently the full-length album One Man Army (2015).

Among all Ensiferum songs that could be used to present Emmi’s solid skills as a musician, I believe the title-track of their latest album, One Man Army, is a very good example of what she’s capable of doing. In addition, why not grab a cold beer and enjoy the sound of her keyboards in their cover versions for the all-time classics Wrathchild (Iron Maiden) and Breaking The Law (Judas Priest)? Despite the fact both original songs do not have any keyboard parts at all, she managed to add her own notes to the music, enhancing their uniqueness compared to all other cover versions for those two songs you might find anywhere.

Emmi hasn’t been in many parallel projects apart from her full-time commitment with Ensiferum, except for playing keyboards in the album Hymns of the Mortals – Songs from the North (2014) by Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Thyrien. Again, the musicality crafted by Thyrien is quite different from the Folk Metal by Ensiferum, as you can see in the excellent tune When The Horizon Burns, once again showcasing Emmi’s versatility and ability to adapt to what the music is asking for.

One very important detail about Emmi’s natural aptitude for music is that she doesn’t only play regular keyboards in her life and career, but she can also play the Hammond organ, the pump organ, the regular organ and the piano, not to mention she was also doing the backing vocals in all songs by Ensiferum. If that doesn’t prove to you how dexterous our charming keyboardist is, I honestly have no idea what really would.

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Due to the fact that Emmi was a live musician for a good couple of years with Ensiferum, I thought it would be nice to have some words from our diva regarding her life on the road, her opinion about the importance of live performances to a metal band, or anything similar to that. Fortunately, I was able to find an interview where, when asked about the differences between playing at a big festival and playing at small venues, she gave a short and sweet explanation of the importance of festivals to bands like Ensiferum. “There are usually more people who hasn’t heard of our music, and festivals are a place to show all we got”, she said, and let’s admit she’s absolutely right about that.

Furthermore, if you’re either a fan of Emmi and the music by Ensiferum or if you’re a newcomer to the world of Epic and Folk Metal, you can enjoy Emmi kicking ass on her favorite place on earth, which is on a festival stage together with the other members of the band, playing songs such as Windrider (at With Full Force XV, Germany, 2008), Lai Lai Hei and Token Of Time (both at Wacken Open Air, Germany, 2008), or even Ensiferum’s full performance at the RockHard Festival, in Germany, on May 18, 2013.

However, in the past few years Emmi was unfortunately forced to sit out of some of Ensiferum’s tours around the world for personal reasons (which were not disclosed anywhere), culminating in her definite departure from the band in April this year. In 2013, she missed the band’s South American tour which was scheduled to start on May 28 in Bogota, Colombia, with her parts being replaced by backing tracks as per a statement released by the rest of the group. And in the beginning of 2015 Emmi couldn’t make it to Ensiferum’s European and North American tours, when she was replaced by the digital accordion of Netta Skog (ex-Turisas). “This was a very tough decision for me to make to not be a part of the European and North American tours, but I am so happy that not only an amazing musician will be standing in for me, but also a close friend. I hope you all enjoy the shows and the new songs with Netta – I’m looking forward to returning to play them for you in the summer!”, she stated, showing her relationship with the band was more than perfect at that time. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get back in action due to family reasons, being replaced permanently by Netta.

Lastly, I wish there were more interviews (both written and on YouTube) with Emmi to be shared with all of you, but it looks like she’s either more reserved than the other members of the band, or that interviewers all over the world are wasting some amazing opportunities to ask a few questions to such a unique musician. Anyway, if you speak Finnish you might have a good time with this interview to a Finnish channel called MoonTV (I couldn’t understand almost anything, obviously), and if you’re a fan of radical sports you can check Emmi and the other members of Ensiferum going paragliding in the valleys of Slovenia after their concert at Metaldays, held in Tolmin, Slovenia in 2013. Adrenaline has always been the perfect catalyst for good heavy music, don’t you think?

“It’s nice to see Scandinavian folk metal bands, especially Finnish bands, are doing well all around the world. I’m proud to be part of this, and it’s nice to see people are loving this kind of music, and getting inspirations from Scandinavian bands for their own music and all their lifestyles.” – Emmi Silvennoinen