Metal Chick of the Month – Ailyn Giménez

ailyn01

Come sleep with me, I’ll set you free…

The name Pilar Giménez García might not make a lot of sense to you, especially if you’re not a fan of Symphonic/Gothic Metal. It might even sound like a name extracted from a Mexican “telenovela” for some people. However, when I say the stage name of our metal chick this month, you’ll probably connect to her and, of course, to her beautiful voice: please welcome the stunning Spanish singer Ailyn Giménez, or simply Ailyn.

Ailyn was born on May 29, 1982 in Esplugues de Llobregat, in Barcelona, Spain, a place so close to the Camp Nou stadium that many famous players such as Piqué and Iniesta reside there. She is the current female vocalist of Norwegian Symphonic Gothic Metal band Sirenia, and her story prior to becoming a professional lead singer for a Heavy Metal band is quite unique in comparison to many other female singers from both metal or non-metal bands.

However, before we talk about her path to stardom, let’s first focus on her beginnings, in other words when Ailyn was “just” Pilar and started her career in the world of music. Our Catalan diva started singing in school when she was around 11 or 12 years old, when her music teacher inspired her to sing by playing her the song Hero by Mariah Carey. Ailyn immediately fell in love with the song and Mariah’s voice, and from that day on she started trying to sing like her, something easy to notice in the pop/romantic songs Tu Voz Se Apagará and Una Flor En La Tempestad. As hard as it’s to believe, this blonde girl shaking her booty is our Ailyn!

Then at the age of 15 she started her musical career, studying solfege and classical singing at The Albéniz School of Music, with her professional debut taking place in 2002 in Cornellà de Llobregat, also in Barcelona, Spain, in an annual benefit fashion show the city held to raise money for Alzheimer’s sufferers. As weird as it might sound, her first music contract was as part of an Anime/J-Pop/J-Rock group named Charm, with whom she released an album entitled Konnichiwa, in 2003, before parting ways with the group and starting to invest in her solo career in 2004.

Things started to get really interesting for her in 2007, when she was chosen as one of the members of the “young team” in the Spanish version of X Factor, where in the four episodes she participated before being eliminated she sang Pop/Rock classics such as Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Evanescence’s Bring Me to Life, among others. Almost at the same time, her sister was looking for metal bands to add them as friends on the once useful MySpace, and that’s when she got to know Sirenia. They really enjoyed the dark and heavy music played by Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and composer Morten Veland and his crew, and as if by magic, a month later the band sent Ailyn an email asking her if she wanted to audition because they needed a new singer. Check her performances in songs such as The End of It All and Lithium (her cover version for one of Evanescence’s most famous songs), and you’ll understand why she was called to be the smooth female voice of Sirenia.

In the beginning of 2008, our Spanish beauty headed to the wonderful country of Norway for a couple of auditions with Sirenia, before being selected as their new female singer in April 2008. Since then, Ailyn has recorded four full-length albums with Sirenia: The 13th Floor (2009), The Enigma of Life (2011), Perils of the Deep Blue (2013), and earlier this year the excellent The Seventh Life Path, as well as the singles The Path to Decay (2008), The End of It All (2010) and Seven Widows Weep (2013), and of course started touring around the world with the band. Moreover, it was during one of her first tours with Sirenia that she had the most memorable show of her life, at the always awesome festival Masters Of Rock, in 2008. According to Ailyn herself it was not because of her performance (as she was very nervous): she mentioned this specific concert was special because it was her first big show with Sirenia, and because she was able to enjoy all the energy and grandiosity of the festival.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Besides her career with Sirenia, Ailyn sang the song Needle Bites from the album Rejected Gods (2014), by Greek Symphonic Metal band Enemy of Reality, recorded additional vocals on the song Furia de Libertad from the album Argia (2014), by Spanish Symphonic Power/Gothic Metal band Diabulus in Musica, and female vocals on the songs The Chevalier and Prayer from the album Death & Legacy (2011), by Austrian Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Serenity. In addition, she performed live with German/Norwegian Symphonic Metal band Leaves’ Eyes at their 10th anniversary show in Wieze, Belgium in 2014., and she is also scheduled to take part on the Metal Opera album The Great Lie by Melted Space in October this year.

However, maybe none of her accomplishments as a metal singer would have been possible without the influence of Dutch Symphonic Metal band Within Temptation in her life. It’s not that she has ever been part of the band or anything like that, but it’s known that all her passion for heavy music started one day while she was watching TV and they played a video from Within Temptation, letting Ailyn eager for more of their music and of the music by any other band with a similar sonority. Of course, that led to Within Tempation’s lead singer Sharon Den Adel being one of her biggest idols in music, among other names such as Jared Leto (30 Seconds To Mars), Josh Groban and Sarah Brightman. Moreover, when asked about which artists she would like to sing with, our metal babe said she would love to perform a duet with  Roy Khan (ex-Kamelot), an amazing choice in my opinion.

Obviously, just as any other regular person in the world, Ailyn has her personal hobbies, including some very relaxing activities such as reading, drawing and sewing, especially sewing her stage clothes for her live performances with Sirenia, and of course she truly loves listening to music. Another interesting fact about Ailyn is that she has a condition called heterochromia iridis, meaning she has two different eye colours, one eye (right) is brown and the other eye (left) is green, which in my opinion only makes her even more attractive. And on a final note, one might ask how a Spanish woman named Pilar Giménez García ended up being called “Ailyn”, a Chinese name, and the answer to that is quite simple: not only she has always been attracted to the Asian culture, but mainly because Ailyn means “true love”. Do I need to say anything else?

Ailyn’s Official Facebook page
Sirenia’s Official Facebook Page

“Since I was a kid I dreamt about being in the music world, and as I grew up I dreamt about being part of a band, so I think my dreams have been accomplished. Of course I’ve got many dreams, but only time will tell if they become true or not.” – Ailyn Giménez

Album Review – Sirenia / The Seventh Life Path (2015)

If dark and symphonic music is what you want, Mr. Morten Veland and his crew are always there to help satisfy your craving.

Rating4

sirenia_the seventh life pathDeliberately entitled The Seventh Life Path, the seventh (got it?) full-length album by Norwegian Gothic/Symphonic Metal band Sirenia has everything it takes to please diehard fans of the band and newcomers to the world of symphonic music: melodic instrumentals, wicked synthesizers, a powerful choir, the charming female vocals by Spanish diva Ailyn Giménez and, of course, the iconic Morten Veland.

Perhaps one of the most interesting components in The Seventh Life Path is its artwork, designed by renowned artist Gyula Havancsák of Hjules Illustration and Design, whose latest works can be seen in the new albums by Ensiferum and Grave Digger, for example. It’s a very detailed illustration, where the artist and the band clearly wanted to augment the importance and meaning of the number seven to the album. “The 7 number appears as 7 ravens, 7 snakes, 7 roses on the dried out wreath…”, said Gyula about this peculiarity in an interview.

However, it’s not just the artwork that makes The Seventh Life Path a good album, but the music itself. As soon as the symphonic and imposing intro Seti begins, it already embraces the listener and sets the tone for the next track, the (at the same time) creepy and captivating Serpent.  Ailyn and Morten provide a beautiful balance of clean female vocals and harsh growls, and even with the presence of some Gothic passages the song ends up sounding truly metallic and symphonic. Once My Light is a lot more “commercial” due to the focus on the smooth vocal lines by Ailyn and the less imposing instrumental, also providing us all a lovely atmosphere and eerie passages with a Gothic touch that only Morten is capable of crafting.

In Elixir, featuring Joakim Næss on clean vocals (who by the way already worked with the band in Perils of the Deep Blue), modernity and tradition are put together, while just the intro in Sons Of The North already kicks ass by itself even before the main portion of the music takes shape. It’s a motherfuckin’ epic ode to Scandinavia, almost a Norse hymn, where the deep growls by Morten, all the orchestrations and especially the choir are flawless. Besides, the lyrics are far from being original (“Here the thunder and lightning / Are both enforced by the mighty Thor / We are the sons of legends / We are sons of myths and lore / Our legacy is forever / Behold its radiance forevermore”), but they didn’t really need to be to sound amazing. They kept it simple, and it worked pretty well. However, once again embraced by symphonic elements, Earendel (or Aurvandil) doesn’t live up to its predecessor, getting too generic after a while even with all the breaks and variations.

sireniaWith a denser sonority and a faster pace, where drummer Jonathan A. Perez showcases his more ferocious skills, Concealed Disdain has one significant issue in my opinion: I find Ailyn’s voice too low during the whole song, preventing it from being a lot more pleasant. On the other hand, sounding like old school Tristania enhanced by the more contemporary musicality by Sirenia, the excellent Insania shows beyond doubt that Morten is a terrific musician, with highlights to its synths and drums for adding so much power to the final result. I also love when Morten goes back in time and revives his darkest side in lyrics like the ones found in Contemptuous Quitus (“You’re the torn in my heart / You will tear me apart / You’re a plague and a curse / Contemptuous quietus”), and besides, I must say I was eager for some heavier riffs, which are finally delivered in this song.

The last two tracks of the regular version of The Seventh Life Path are also well-engendered and contribute to the overall quality of the album. Firstly, The Silver Eye, which could have been just a little shorter, sounds like Symphonic Black Metal in many of its moments, with Ailyn and Morten making a good vocal duo once again. And secondly, we have the Gothic ballad Tragedienne, with Ailyn’s voice and the piano notes being its centre pieces. Of course what I’m going to say is not a universal truth, but I believe fans of Tristania will enjoy it more than fans of Sirenia. In addition, there’s also a Spanish version for this song as a bonus track depending on the version of the album you acquire.

In short, if what Sirenia wanted to achieve with The Seventh Life Path was a well-balanced and energizing continuation to their entertaining career, keeping the names of Morten and Ailyn alive in the minds of Gothic and Symphonic Metal partisans, they more than succeeded in their quest. And if you are one of those dark music supporters, you should thank Morten and his crew for always bringing forth your favorite type of music, just like what is presented in The Seventh Life Path.

Best moments of the album: Serpent, Sons Of The North and Insania.

Worst moments of the album: Earendel and Concealed Disdain.

Released in 2015 Napalm Records

Track listing
1. Seti 2:05
2. Serpent 6:31
3. Once My Light 7:21
4. Elixir (featuring Joakim Næss) 5:45
5. Sons Of The North 8:16
6. Earendel 6:14
7. Concealed Disdain 6:11
8. Insania 6:39
9. Contemptuous Quitus 6:29
10. The Silver Eye 7:29
11. Tragedienne 4:54

Bonus track
12. Tragica (Spanish version of Tragedienne) 4:55

Band members
Morten Veland – guitars, vocals, bass, piano, synth, mandolin, programming
Ailyn – female vocals
Jan Erik Soltvedt – guitars
Jonathan A. Perez – drums

Guest musicians
Joakim Næss – clean male vocals on “Elixir”
Damien Surian – choir
Emilie Bernou – choir
Emmanuelle Zoldan – choir
Mathieu Landry – choir