Metal Chick of the Month – Lena Scissorhands

Walking in the night, I am trying to find you…

Before even starting this tribute to our metal chick of the month of July, let me just say her life is pretty much an open book. I mean, you can find pretty much anything about her online, and what you’re about to read might not be a surprise for you at all. However, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve to be featured on our webzine, as she’s not only extremely talented and passionate for heavy music, but she’s also a hardworking metalhead that never stops creating top-of-the-line music and videos for the delight of hundreds of thousands of metalheads from all over the world. Not only that, apart from her life in Heavy Metal she’s also a model and a makeup artist, proving her success, respect and admiration from her fans are not in vain. I’m talking about the unstoppable Moldovan vocalist Lena Scissorhands, the ravishing frontwoman for an up-and-coming Alternative and Nu Metal act that goes by the classy name of Infected Rain. Having said that, are you ready to be “infected” by Lena’s charisma and electricity here on The Headbanging Moose?

Born on November 22, 1986 in Chișinău, also known as Kishinev, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Moldova, nestled between Ukraine and Romania in Eastern Europe, Lena Scissorhands, whose real name is Elena Kataraga, fell in love with alternative music when she was 13 years old, although her real “crush” for metal music happened when she was 14 as she got simply mesmerized by the energy flowing from the sound of heavy guitar riffs and the brutality from harsh, guttural vocals. Due to her poor beginnings in Moldova, life was quite challenging for Lena and her family, forcing her to start working at a very young age to support her parents (who were very young when they had Lena) and her two younger sisters, with whom she mentioned she used to share her clothes and eat whatever was available (as well as pretend to be the Powerpuff Girls with them to lighten things up a bit). Looking on the bright side of life, those tough early days turned Lena into a very strong woman, always eager to achieve more through her work and always ready to provide help to the ones in need.

Currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, Lena mentioned in one of her interviews that the idea that the “Sin City” is a weird place bursting with people from all over the world only works if you’re a visitor, as living there is a complete different thing. She said if you live in Vegas you’re not really that much in contact with that lifestyle, unless of course that’s part of your job, but living there is pretty quiet due to the city’s remote location. Furthermore, apart from her current life in Vegas, Lena has also lived in different European countries, which kind of explains why she’s fluent in four languages, those being Russian, Romanian, English and Italian. “I’m very proud to speak all these four languages, and unfortunately I used to speak another language fluently. When I was a child, I used to live in Armenia, and I used to know Armenian like I know English – very, very well. I lived there for many years. But unfortunately, because of different life changing and living in different countries, and I was not in touch with my father because my parents separated and stuff like that, so I didn’t really use it. And a language, you lose it when you don’t use it. I do understand a little bit, and I can say a few things, but that’s it. So I don’t even consider that,” said Lena, who also explained she writes all her lyrics in English as the language became very natural to her, especially when she was attending university, although she actually started writing lyrics in Russian when she was a teenager at the age of 14.

It’s time to get down to business and start talking about Lena’s life with her awesome band Infected Rain, the band she started over ten years ago together with guitarist Vidick and Dj Kapa. At first, Lena said she didn’t know if she would be able to sing in a band in a professional way, but with the support from her bandmates and after starting taking vocal lessons with Tatiana Robertovna, with whom Lena learned how to breathe, how to feel the music and how to sing, Infected Rain became her number one priority and her reason to live. Formed in 2008 in her hometown Chișinău, Infected Rain combine a wide variety of styles such as Alternative, Death and Nu Metal with Metalcore and even elements from electronic music in an infectious sound, having already released a self-titled demo in 2008, the EP Judgemental Trap in 2009, and four full-length albums, those being Asylum (2011), Embrace Eternity (2014), 86 (2017) and more recently the excellent Endorphin (2019), showcasing all the power and versatility of the band currently comprised of our metal goddess Lena and her henchmen Vidick and Sergey on the guitars, Vladimir on bass and Eugene on drums. There are several official videos on YouTube for some of the best creations by Infected Rain, such as Me Against You, Mold, Stop Waiting, At The Bottom Of The Bottle, Serendipity, Enslaved By A Dream, a kick-ass cover version for Slayer’s Stain Of Mind, Judgemental Trap, Sweet, Sweet Lies, Fool The Gravity, Intoxicating, Orphan Soul, the absolutely stunning The Earth Mantra, Storm, Lure and Passerby, or you can also go to their official website or Big Cartel page to purchase their albums and some pretty cool merch.

Before signing with Napalm Records in 2019, Lena and the boys used to manage Infected Rain by themselves for around 10 years, booking their own concerts, taking care of all agreements and duties of a regular manager and so on, facing tons of challenges and hassles along the way. In one of her interviews, she mentioned that one of the biggest obstacles for Infected Rain during those years were promoters and booking agencies that didn’t want to work with them simply because they were independent, thinking they were a difficult band and that’s the reason why they were independent, when the only reason for that was the fact they came from a poor country with no possibilities at all. Having said that, why not enjoying a full performance by Infected Rain from their independent years, more specifically from their 2016 incendiary performance at Rockstadt Extreme Fest or from their 2017 concert at Club Thing in Germany? In addition, simply check this video titled “10 questions with Lena Scissorhands | Infected Rain” to know a little more about Lena and the band.

Apart from her life with Infected Rain, you can also find our multi-talented artist on a few other distinguished bands and projects, showcasing all her skills as a musician and her passion for music in general. For instance, she has been doing some singing during the live performances for a Moldovan Progressive Death Metal act called Neuromist since 2010 (although I couldn’t find any online video recording of her with the band), she has recorded a cover version for Russian duo t.A.T.u’s biggest hit All The Things She Said together with LA-based Alternative Rock act Chase The Comet, and also participated in some of the songs by Moldovan Progressive Metal/Rock band Seas on the Moon such as Promise and Hovering. As you can see, singing and playing became Lena’s own type of “drug”, her personal and healthy addiction, inspiring her to exercise and experiment a lot with her voice in different styles. All that work and experimentation would leave her voiceless for days in the beginning, but after starting her vocal lessons with renowned vocal coach Melissa Cross in 2013 everything changed for better in her life and career, allowing Lena to start delivering all the emotions, experiences, fears and disappointments in life from her very personal lyrics on stage without hurting her vocal cords.

As the amazing frontwoman that Lena is, she has obviously been asked a lot of times about how she views the current role and importance of women in heavy music, and what can be done to further enhance their relevance in the scene. However, although feminism and sisterhood in the metal scene are quite popular topics nowadays, she doesn’t consider herself a true feminist. “I know a lot of people expect me to be a little bit more feminist, or to talk more about how awesome it is to be a girl in metal. I really don’t do this big of a difference. I love seeing many girls in metal in general. It’s really cool because it takes dedication and women usually are very busy with their everyday life, with their families, with their kids, and it’s not that easy if you’re a woman, to give up everything. It’s a little bit easier for a man. Maybe. I don’t know,” said Lena, who also thinks that there isn’t a big difference between men and women in metal music, especially due to the fact she grew up in the company of boys in her neighborhood and considered herself very boyish until she was 15 or 16 years old. “I became more feminine later, but that’s it. That’s only the way I look. Inside I’m very fragile, I like being a woman, I like being fragile, I like being loved, I like being taking care of. But trust me, a man can say the same. Men also love to be loved, men also loved to be weak sometimes, and men also have weaknesses and emotions. We have blood, muscles, we are the same! Right? So, I really don’t see a big difference.”

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Lena is unsurprisingly addicted to sports, to touring and to adrenaline, saying she’s disciplined enough to work out at home, backstage or in a hotel room before her concerts. “I love yoga a lot because I become stretched really well. I like building up my body and you know, doing some weights sometimes. I don’t do cardio, because I have very low blood pressure, but at the same time I love hiking, I tried climbing as well, and I like biking a lot,” said Lena, who also mentioned she has a ritual before hitting the stage every show and sometimes even during her days off, requiring between half and a full hour of exercising and a minimum half hour of vocal warm-up, plus another hour to do her makeup, allowing her to feel perfectly prepared, stretched and warmed up prior to each concert. Moreover, Lena’s creations with Infected Rain are all meant to be played live, as according to our talented growler they’re extremely close to reality, expressing exactly what Lena was feeling when writing them, with some songs becoming even stronger during the band’s live performances.

As a huge fan of cartoons and horror flicks, Lena seems to be really into Disney and vampire movies, two completely different things that ended up helping her shape up her own persona quite well. “I became a big Disney nerd at an older age. When I was a kid I grew up in a pretty poor family and we didn’t really watch Disney movies unless they were on TV. So, I would say I really love Lion King because this was my first Disney movie I’ve ever seen and it’s very emotional. I also absolutely love Snow White, because I think it’s just amazing how unique it is, and it was the first cartoon movie that was made so… I also love a lot Alice in Wonderland, because I’m a big fan of the book as well, and I really like how unique the movie is, but still – you know – having the lot from the book… I can go on and on like this forever and ever. There are so many good ones,” commented Lena, who also said in one of her interviews that as she grew up with the tales of Dracula, she loves every type of vampire movie ever made, even lower budget productions or comedies about vampires, complementing by saying that she has also been watching a lot of zombie movies, that she has already gone through all the Halloween and Friday the 13th franchises, and that now she wants to watch all the Resident Evil and A Nightmare on Elm Street movies as well.

As already mentioned, Lena also used to be a hair stylist and makeup artist, and as a proud vegan she usually tries to use vegan makeup instead of the regular brands you can find anywhere, saying one of her favorite brands is Kat Von D as she’s a vegan artist and all her makeup line is vegan as well. However, despite working with makeup, she truly believes charisma and kindness are what really attract her in people, saying that’s the true beauty in everyone. Furthermore, she also thinks there’s too much judgement or bias based on how a person looks nowadays, saying she doesn’t reply and she deletes all types of unnecessary comments such as “you’re too skinny”, “you have too many tattoos” and so on from her social media, complementing by saying we all punish ourselves too much already inside our minds to allow strangers to do the same for no reason.

Regarding veganism and her view of what’s happening to our environment, our skillful vocalist said she decided to become a vegan to see how she would feel, how much that would impact her health and her body, realizing she started to have a lot more energy on tour after adapting her eating habits around three years ago. Hence, you can notice the impact of her vegan lifestyle in the music by Infected Rain, with songs like the amazing The Earth Mantra beautifully (and darkly) representing everything that’s wrong with mankind in terms of all the wicked things we are doing to our planet. Despite not considering herself a true environmentalist, Lena is trying to be sensitive about nature, about animals and plants, and being more aware of her surroundings and how her actions impact everything and everyone in her life. Although a lot of people are trying hard to change their habits to have a minimal impact on our planet, Lena still thinks that’s not enough, that the current situation is extremely bad and that unfortunately it will take decades for the human race to change. If you’re also trying to make the world a better place you’ll certainly love the official video for The Earth Mantra, where Lena “interacts” with different bugs and other animals most people are not comfortable dealing with. “All the animals were real. I was very gentle with them. The owner of them was there, telling me how to hold those animals so no harm was done. I’m not scared of any bugs or anything. It’s actually a problem because I’m not afraid and I want to pet them and I want to touch them. So no, I’m not afraid,” commented the dauntless Lena.

Lastly, as also mentioned in the beginning of this tribute to Lena, her life is like an open book online, and let’s say she’s very proud of not being afraid of sharing all aspects of her life with her family, friends and fans worldwide. One of the main places where you can know everything about Lena is her official YouTube channel curiously titled BANANAS (as well as her own Patreon page), where you’ll find pretty much anything about her life, her hobbies, her career, her tattoos and other nice-to-know details, including also some interviews and chats with artists the likes of Melissa Cross and CJ McMahon (Thy Art Is Murder), and with all videos being edited by one of her bandmates, guitarist Vidick. For instance, there’s a very interesting video of Lena talking about the origins of Infected Rain which you might find very entertaining and informative, showing how much she’s not only a fantastic singer, but also that she was born to be in the spotlight so natural and smooth her onscreen performance is, and that’s exactly how she wants her YouTube channel to be for the foreseeable future. “When I decided to have my own YouTube channel and I saw that the band is becoming more known around the world and people are curious about me as a person, I made myself one promise, and I’m just trying to stick with that, and that’s it. It’s just I’m always going to be myself, and if people are not gonna like what they see or what they hear, it’s not in my power to change anybody’s mind, and I will never try to do that,” said Lena, inviting us all to join her in her world of heavy music, veganism, tattoos, and of course, bananas.

Lena Scissorhands’ Official Facebook page
Lena Scissorhands’ Official VKontakte
Lena Scissorhands’ Official Instagram
Lena Scissorhands’ Official Twitter
Lena Scissorhands’ Official YouTube channel
Infected Rain’s Official Facebook page
Infected Rain’s Official VKontakte
Infected Rain’s Official Instagram
Infected Rain’s Official Twitter
Infected Rain’s Official YouTube channel

“Reality is frustrating sometimes, music has become my escape. I want to help as many people as I can with my music. I want to touch people somewhere deep inside, try to end their fears and give them that escape that they always search for. Music saved my life, but when I started to sing is when my life acquired color.” – Lena Scissorhands

Album Review – Katatonia / City Burials (2020)

The most free-spirited of modern metal bands returns with absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements.

“In days and nights of black and silver, the dead end king will come. From pieces of broken mirrors there will be a crown bestowed upon his head. In reflections of shattered glass not only the seasons will turn, but also the change disguised by the lapse of time. His mind will have to come to bear the weight of everything that was left behind and forgotten. Archiving the inaccessible. Celebrating the abandoned and mourning the destroyed. The city burials.” – Anders Nyström

Revered masters of melancholy for nearly 30 years, Swedish Progressive/Alternative Rock/Metal icons Katatonia have always pursued a profound emotional connection with their music and those who listen to it. Formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1991 by now vocalist Jonas Renkse and guitarist Anders Nyström, the most free-spirited of modern metal bands has taken a slow and steady but at the same time endless fascinating journey from primitive beginnings in the extreme music underground to their current status as darlings of both the metal world and the Progressive Rock scene. Now in 2020, after a well-deserved break taken by Jonas and Anders together with their henchmen Roger Öjersson on the guitars, Niklas Sandin on bass and Daniel Moilanen on drums since the release of their last album The Fall Of Hearts in 2016, Katatonia return in full force with City Burials, the eleventh studio album in their unique career. From its grim album art by Beech (The Pineapple Thief, Godsticks, Jen Cloher) to the very last second of the closing song, City Burials is the ultimate proof of Jonas and Anders’ enduring artistic bond throughout the album’s absorbing 58 minutes of meticulously crafted melodies and inspired, idiosyncratic arrangements, perfectly representing the band’s ever-evolving sound.

And a beyond whimsical start led by Jonas’ serene clean vocals kicks off the opening track Heart Set to Divide before his bandmates come crushing with a harmonious fusion of Progressive Metal and Alternative Rock, with the bass by Niklas bringing sheer groove to their music, whereas in Behind the Blood the flammable guitars by Anders and Roger embellish the airwaves in a lesson in modern rock and metal music that lives up to the band’s own legacy, not to mention the song’s poetic lyrics (“Rivers rush, behind the blood / The cinder skies come alive with this drop of sunset / How far can we go? Along the elusive flood / I’ve been waiting all of my life to be with you”). Then slowing things down and adding a good amount of melancholy and grief to their musicality Katatonia offer us all Lacquer, with all instruments, including the programmed drums by guest Joakim Karlsson (from Swedish Black Metal act Craft), providing all Jonas needs to shine on vocals.

A futuristic and cinematic feel permeates the air in Rein, where the minimalist guitar sounds blasted by Anders and Roger walk hand in hand with Daniel’s intricate beats, culminating in a delicate sound that will certainly please all fans of this more contemporary version of the band, followed by The Winter of Our Passing, a HIM-inspired composition showcasing beautiful passages and an ethereal vibe led by the band’s sharp guitar duo and the always groovy bass by Niklas, leaning at time towards pure Progressive Rock. After such embracing song it’s time for Vanishers, an utterly experimental and atmospheric tune by Katatonia featuring the angelic vocals by Anni Bernhard (from Swedish rock band Full Of Keys) where we’re all inspired to close our eyes and savor each note while witnessing a beautiful sunrise. And displaying nuances from the music played by rock acts like Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam without forgetting their melancholic core essence, the band offers our avid ears the also progressive and gentle City Glaciers, presenting another great job done by Anders and Roger with their crisp riffs and solos.

The last batch of songs in City Burials couldn’t have sounded more experimental and ethereal, with gentle piano notes intertwined with rumbling bass punches igniting the cryptic Flicker, where Jonas beautifully declaims the song’s words (“So cruel your desire / It pulled me under / But the drapery of my eye won’t fall / I lie in wait for the night to find you / Sephia teeth and claw”) while its modernized and atmospheric vibe penetrates deep inside your soul. Once again investing in serene and somber sounds and tones instead of the heaviness of their early days, Jonas takes the lead with his enfolding vocals in Lachesis, a too-short song that could have been a lot more detailed than its final shape and form, while in Neon Epitaph they get back to a heavier and groovier sound, with the tribal, fierce beats by Daniel and the mesmerizing riffs by Anders and Roger resulting in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Rock and Metal. Finally, intricate and progressive sounds conclude the album in Untrodden, never getting too heavy nor too mellow, but reaching a very pleasant balance exhibiting the absolute synchronicity between Jonas’ vocals and Anders’ precise riffs and solos.

In summary, the experimental and multi-layered City Burials, which you can stream in its entirety on YouTube or on Spotify, continues to pave Katatonia’s path through the more serene and melancholic lands of Progressive Rock and Metal while also presenting to the band’s longtime fans an even more alternative side of Jonas, Anders & Co., positioning them as one of the most important bands of the genre (apart from their already important role in more extreme styles decades ago). Hence, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, on Instagram and on YouTube to know more about them and of course about their music, and grab your copy of City Burials from several distinct locations by clicking HERE. I’ve recently read somewhere that City Burials is the perfect album to listen to at dawn, and after taken a few good listens at it I must agree with such beautiful comment about it. Well, I’m sure you’ll also have the same feeling while listening to it, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Behind the Blood, City Glaciers and Neon Epitaph.

Worst moments of the album: Lachesis.

Released in 2020 Peaceville Records

Track listing
1. Heart Set to Divide 5:29
2. Behind the Blood 4:37
3. Lacquer 4:42
4. Rein 4:28
5. The Winter of Our Passing 3:18
6. Vanishers 5:07
7. City Glaciers 5:42
8. Flicker 4:45
9. Lachesis 1:54
10. Neon Epitaph 4:32
11. Untrodden 4:29

Limited Edition bonus tracks
12. Closing of the Sky 5:24
13. Fighters (Enter The Hunt cover) 3:38

Band members
Jonas Renkse – vocals
Anders Nyström – guitars
Roger Öjersson – guitars
Niklas Sandin – bass
Daniel Moilanen – drums

Guest musicians
Anni Bernhard – vocals on “Vanishers”
Anders Eriksson – programming
Joakim Karlsson – drum programming on “Lacquer”

Interview – Angela Di Vincenzo (Secret Rule)

Are you already tired and bored of staying home during this quarantine? Why not enjoying this exclusive interview with the multi-talented Angela Di Vincenzo, talking about her band Secret Rule and their brand new album Against?

Angela Di Vincenzo (Secret Rule)

The Headbanging Moose: First of all, thanks a lot for having time to chat with us, and let’s start with a very simple question: who are Secret Rule? When did the band start, how do you define the band’s sound, and what are your main goals in the world of heavy music?

Secret Rule: Hi and thank you for this space. Secret Rule is a female-fronted metal band from Italy. We have been active since 2014 and have released 5 albums. Our sound is modern metal with a lot of other influences (electronic, symphonic, etc.). Our goal is to find a space in the metal market, and at the moment we’re really satisfied.

THM: Although the band was formed only a few years ago, in 2014, your excellent new album Against is already the fifth studio album in your career. How do you manage to release such amazing amount of music in such a short period of time, what are the main differences between Against and your previous albums, and how do you see the evolution of your music through the years?

SR: It’s very simple for us. We play around 30/40 gigs per year, and the other 10 months, we are free to work on new material. I think that’s a good lapse of time to produce new songs. In addition, as you know, when you do something with passion nothing is boring or tiresome. About Against, I think it’s a more aggressive album than the other ones, and this is what we wanted. For sure, we don’t consider ourselves a symphonic metal band. It would be very limiting for us and not respectful to those who play that kind of music. No doubt there are some symphonic atmospheres in our music, but at the same time, there are a lot of electronic inserts. So in our future the sound will always have something new, and I have to say you that we like this more aggressive approach.

THM: Some of my favorite songs from the album, those being Rise Again, Digital Revolution and Outsiders, bring a high level of energy while at the same time sounding very melodic. How do you guys manage to reach that great balance in your music? Can you give us more details about your writing and recording process?

SR: Andy and I are the main composers of the band. Personally, I grew up with Italian melodic pop music and I met metal music only around my 20s, so all my catchy melodies come from this melting of styles.

Andy was born with metal music in his veins so the heavy aspects come from him! About the writing process, I record all my vocal ideas on my phone each time I have one, at whatever hour and wherever. Andy does the same on his PC when he has an idea for a riff. When we start on a new album, we actually already have a lot of stuff to analyze and in 2 months we work on it and record the album, more or less!

THM: What inspires Secret Rule to write and record heavy music? Do you avoid repeating the themes covered in each song and album, or is this something that’s “out of control” due to the way you create your music?

SR: We can say it’s “out of control” LOL Actually, we like to experiment with new influences and everything comes naturally. We like heavy music but as you can hear, you also can find electronic, symphonic, pop and rock influences in our music, because we are all these things together. For the variety you can find inside, our albums are like a playlist on Spotify instead of a single album.

Album Review – Secret Rule / Against (2020)

THM: As you guys are from Italy, it’s impossible not to ask you about the current COVID-19 crisis that’s having devastating effects on your beautiful country. How are you guys managing the band amidst all the chaos that’s going on there? Also, I hope all is well with you and your loved ones during such difficult times.

SR: Thank you for your question and interest. Here the situation is a little bit hard. At the moment we have been at home just over three weeks. We can go out only to get food or medicine. We have to have a piece of paper with us with our name and reason we’re out and there are heavy penalties for those who don’t respect the government restrictions. It has been difficult for some people to understand they have to stay at home. Now things seem to be getting better in the North of Italy but we have to still wait to have a clearer picture of the situation. About us, we have had to postpone our tour with Semblant in September and we have had to postpone our tour in the UK as well. Since we can’t go on tour and we can’t meet with each other, Andy and I (we live in the same building) have started to work on some cover songs and new stuff. The first music video was released on the 24th of March and was Gets Me Through by Ozzy Osbourne and the second one on the 2nd of April was The Bitter End by Placebo. We already have other songs in mind. In this way, we keep busy and give our fans something new in this difficult period we all are living. We hope to return to normality very soon!

THM: I’ve been following the whole COVID-19 situation in Italy, and during the past couple of weeks I received some videos of Italians playing and singing metal songs such as Slayer’s “Raining Blood” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” on their balconies during this never-ending quarantine. Having said that, how important do you think Heavy Metal and music in general are for everyone in Italy right now?

SR: You have been lucky to see these videos because around my house I only hear people who sing classic Italian music, every day at 6 pm! At the moment here in Italy a lot of newfound musicians and singers are coming out on their balconies every evening hahahaha But this has been fun and it has been a way to give positive vibes in this dark moment. Italian people have great energy and sense of humor.

Unfortunately, this is not the right country for the metal music genre. There are more musicians than fans. But at least they are very good musicians 🙂

THM: How’s the current underground metal scene in Italy in terms of bands, venues and live concerts? And can you tell us about any Italian bands apart from Secret Rule that we should take a listen to?

SR: mmmm…hard question. In Italy there are a lot of metal bands, probably there are more musicians than listeners 😀 ….unfortunately, the scene is not so good. There’s no great cultural movement to listen to new bands. So it’s always very hard to bring people to little shows. Anyway, the few people who follow metal music give a warm welcome and support.

If you wanna listen to THE ITALIAN METAL BAND, you should obviously listen to Lacuna Coil!! Hahahahh LOL

Secret Rule

THM: Who are your biggest idols in music? And who do you dream of sharing the stage with?

SR: Personally, I like a lot of bands and singers but if I had to choose, I would say Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation. Sharing the stage with them would be awesome, a dream. I might cry if I were to meet Cristina and Sharon. I think they have great talent and unique voices. There’s no one like them. First and foremost, I’m a fan of theirs.

THM: As a Symphonic and Alternative Metal band, your whole performance is obviously impacted by your attire, or by the way you look on stage. Who’s responsible for creating all the clothing you guys wear during your promo pictures and on stage during your live concerts?

SR: What you see on us reflects our taste and work.

It’s not simple but for the last album, we made a deal with the fashion brand PUNK RAVE. This has been awesome because they believe in us and we love their style. So it’s been a perfect marriage.

In addition, the mood and the meaning they put in their fashion style fits perfectly with the messages in our latest album “AGAINST”.

THM: Thanks again for your time, and please feel free to send your final message to our readers, to your fans and to anyone else that’s getting in touch with Secret Rule for the first time ever.

SR: Thank you for this opportunity. We invite all readers to get a taste of our music if they haven’t done so before and to trust their perceptions.

You can find our music on the best digital platforms like Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and so on. The album is distributed worldwide so you can find it everywhere.

Links
Secret Rule Official Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music

Album Review – Tomorrow Is Lost / Therapy (2020)

Dance like there’s no tomorrow to the sound of eleven mind-blowing Alternative Metal anthems carefully crafted by one of the fastest-rising modern rock bands in the United Kingdom.

If you’re a fan of the radio-friendly but still heavy and incendiary Rock N’ Roll played by renowned heavyweights such as Halestorm, Evanescence and Paramore, you should take a shot at Therapy, the first full-length album by Newcastle Upon Tyne, England-based Rock N’ Roll/Alternative Metal band Tomorrow Is Lost and the follow-up to their highly acclaimed debut EP Shadowman, released in 2018. Produced by Dave Boothroyd (Phil Campbell, Don Broco, The Bastard Sons) at 6db Studios and mastered by Jon Astley (Judas Priest, The Who, The Rolling Stones) at Close To The Edge, Therapy features eleven mind-blowing Alternative Metal anthems carefully crafted by one of the fastest-rising modern rock bands in the United Kingdom, showcasing all the hard work and passion for rock music by frontwoman Cass King, guitarists Joe Mac and Ryan O’Hara, bassist Josh Fodden and drummer Marc Rush and, above all, positioning the band as one of the most promising names in a new era of British metal and rock that will undoubtedly endure the test of time for years to come.

A modern, eerie Intro sets the stage for Cass and the boys to kick some serious ass in Wildchild, a groovy and electrifying tune led by the crushing bass punches by Josh while Cass delivers a blend of delicate, dark vocals and rebellious screams, resulting in a great Rock N’ Roll dancing tune full of headbanging moments and infinite stamina. And more modernized sounds invade our ears in Smile, a song ready to be played on any rock station anywhere in the world with Ryan and Joe blasting sheer adrenaline from their strings, while Marc dictates the pace with his spot-on beats, whereas in White Noise we’re treated to more of their contemporary Rock N’ Roll showcasing metallic bass lines, classic riffs and the always stunning vocals by Cass, also bringing a welcome dosage of pop music to make the final result even more entertaining.

What starts in a gentle manner evolves into a feast of heavy sounds in Self Destruct, spearheaded by Joe and Ryan’s melodic guitar lines and alternating between more serene moments and electronic passages, with its heavier parts exhaling pure Alternative Metal. Then it’s time for Cass to mesmerize us all with her stunning voice in the semi-ballad Black and Blue, where a sexy sonority boosts her vocal reach even more, being perfect for enjoying it together with your significant other; while we face more of the metallic bass jabs by Josh in the incendiary and groovy Hideaway, where they let their alternative side dominate the atmosphere, presenting another beautiful performance by Cass on vocals in a very classy and powerful manner.

In Too Young to Know the quintet brings forth another soulful ballad showcasing an ethereal vibe and the always enfolding vocals by Cass, not to mention it’s a song about the issues we all face in our relationships, which in the end is always a great topic in rock music. Moreover, the band’s guitar duo takes the lead in the song’s second (and heavier) part with their riffs and solos for our total delectation. In Electric the name of the song says it all, or in other words, it’s a feast of slashing riffs and thunderous bass lines spiced up by Marc’s classic beats and another sensational vocal performance by Cass, while Pause Rewind presents elements of the Nu Metal played by Limp Bizkit blended with the alternative sounds by Paramore, with Ryan and Josh doing a great job with their electrified strings once again. And last but not least, closing the album we have one final shot of adrenaline and fun in the form of the title-track Therapy, a song that will definitely please all fans of contemporary rock music, with Marc blasting fierce beats while Cass hypnotizes us all with her piercing voice.

If you also think the motto “I know it’s only Rock N’ Roll, but I like it!” perfectly represents your state of mind, as aforementioned you should undoubtedly give Therapy a chance by listening to the album in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and obviously by adding it to your personal collection by purchasing a copy of the album from the band’s own webstore, or click HERE for all options where you can buy or stream such entertaining opus of rock music. Also, don’t forget to give them a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, showing your support for such promising band of the UK scene in the name of our good old Rock N’ Roll.

Best moments of the album: Wildchild, Hideaway and Electric.

Worst moments of the album: Pause Rewind.

Released in 2020 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Intro 1:09
2. Wildchild 2:27
3. Smile 3:25
4. White Noise 2:27
5. Self Destruct 2:56
6. Black and Blue 4:14
7. Hideaway 4:02
8. Too Young to Know 4:22
9. Electric 3:46
10. Pause Rewind 2:58
11. Therapy 3:27

Band members
Cass King – vocals
Joe Mac – guitar
Ryan O’Hara – guitar
Josh Fodden – bass
Marc Rush – drums

Album Review – Crimson Sun / Fates (2020)

Known for their gripping live performances, catchy sounds and melodies, this Finnish Melodic Heavy Metal institution is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with their sophomore album.

Known for their gripping live performances, catchy sounds and melodies, Finnish Melodic Heavy Metal institution Crimson Sun is ready to take the world of heavy music by storm with their sophomore album Fates, the follow-up to their debut full-length installment Towards the Light, released in 2015, and the EP The Spirit of Unchainable, from 2017. Formed under an unknown name in 2001 in the city of Hamina, Finland, and evolving into their current moniker in 2005, Crimson Sun have been making a name for themselves since their inception, quickly finding their way into the hearts of metalheads from all around the world and, as a consequence, leading the band currently formed by frontwoman Sini Seppälä, guitarist Joni Junnila, bassist Jukka Jauhiainen, keyboardist Miikka Hujanen and drummer Antti Rantavuo  to perform in some of the biggest metal festivals in Finland and to tour around Europe.

Thematically centered around different fates of people, and loosely referring to the band’s own experiences as well, Fates is an amalgamation of classic and contemporary rock and metal styles centered on the band’s Melodic, Symphonic and Alternative Metal core essence, offering their fans the perfect soundtrack to face our daily struggles and obstacles. “The album took its time as we all went through some major changes in our personal lives – some of us started families, some lost relationships or loved ones, built houses, gained new jobs… Life happened! ‘Fates’ proves however, that despite things changing we can get past all difficulties and challenges and move on – and make the kind of music we want to hear”, explained guitarist Joni Junnila about the band’s newborn spawn, complementing by saying that the album “represents continuity in our musical career. Some of the reviews of the first album suggested that we might just be a one-album-wonder. ‘Fates’ hopefully proves to everyone that this is not the case! We continue to grow and evolve – and we won’t even be just a ‘two-album-wonder’.”

Antti sets fire to the album with his frantic beats in the opening track The Beast Within, presenting elements from Symphonic and Alternative Metal as if Nightwish and Lacuna Coil had a child together, all boosted by Miikka’s futuristic keys and Sini’s crisp, high-pitched vocals. Then continuing to venture through the realms of modern Alternative Metal the band offers us all Virtual Reality, with Joni and Jukka extracting sheer adrenaline from their stringed weapons while Miikka and his whimsical keys bring a touch of lunacy to the musicality; followed by We Are One, where the quintet adds a considerable dosage of passion, melancholy and hope to their core sound, with Antti dictating the rhythm while Sini continues to shine on vocals, not to mention the dense and smooth bass lines by Jukka.

The Prison is one of the most symphonic of all songs, but of course still showcasing the band’s trademark electricity, being highly recommended for fans of bands like Epica and Lacuna Coil, with Sini and Miikka being on absolute fire while supported by Jukka and Antti’s thunderous kitchen. And it’s time to slow things down and enjoy Sini’s passionate performance in Overcome while her bandmates generate a delicate and ethereal ambience, resulting in a beautiful break from the faster pace of the rest of the album, flowing into Fate of Nora, which starts in an introspective way before exploding into modern-day Symphonic Metal led by Miikka and his sharp keys. Moreover, Jukka brings thunder to the music with his potent bass jabs, keeping the album as vibrant as it can be, setting the tone for the excellent Trailblazer, the perfect depiction of how powerful the music by Crimson Sun truly is, blasting tons of electricity to the masses while Sini is effectively supported by all her bandmates, in special by Antti’s fierce beats and fills and Joni’s slashing riffs.

Slightly more futuristic than its predecessors, Distant Stars flirts at times with electronic music and Industrial Rock and Metal, and albeit being a good composition it’s a bit generic if compared to all other songs (but still presenting a great job done by Miikka on keyboards, though), whereas Essence of Creation, an upbeat tune blending modern metal music with several electronic nuances, brings forward a shot of stamina into our avid ears while Sini declaims the song’s poetic lyrics in great fashion (“Respect the unscripted rule / The lifeline of all things / From life to life the cosmic ways go / They outline every shape we know / The meaning of life can’t be held / Nor contained in the world we live / Not even identified in a way we are used to”). And their last blast of high-end metal music made in Finland comes in the form of Last Day on Earth, the boldest of all songs overflowing passion and epicness thanks to Sini’s stunning vocal performance and Miikka’s classy keys, while Joni continues to shred his strings until the song’s climatic conclusion.

You can listen to Fates in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but if I were you I would show my utmost support to such talented Finnish band by purchasing the album from their official webstore, as well as from Record Shop X, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Also, don’t forget to follow Crimson Sun on Facebook and on Instagram, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their flammable music. Finland has always been considered a reference in Melodic and Symphonic Metal with bands like Nightwish and Stratovarius spearheading the local movement, and now with the rise of Crimson Sun we can all rest assured the land of ice and snow will also continue to be called the land of metal music for many years to come.

Best moments of the album: The Beast Within, The Prison, Trailblazer and Essence of Creation.

Worst moments of the album: Distant Stars.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. The Beast Within 3:32
2. Virtual Reality 3:06
3. We Are One 4:04
4. The Prison 4:57
5. Overcome 3:12
6. Fate of Nora 4:14
7. Trailblazer 3:18
8. Distant Stars 4:22
9. Essence of Creation 3:40
10. Last Day on Earth 5:33

Band members
Sini Seppälä – vocals
Joni Junnila – guitar
Jukka Jauhiainen – bass
Miikka Hujanen – keyboards
Antti Rantavuo – drums

Album Review – Secret Rule / Against (2020)

A beautiful album of Symphonic Metal showcasing a collection of songs from romantic and intimate ones to dark and fast tunes, all of them about being overwhelmed in a hurricane of emotions.

Formed at the beginning of 2014 in Rome, Italy with the intention to create a special sound with powerful rhythms and catchy melodies, Symphonic Rock/Metal unity Secret Rule can be considered one of the most hardworking bands of the current Italian scene without a shadow of a doubt, having released nothing more, nothing less than four studio albums since their inception until 2019, or almost one album per year, with the year of 2018 being the only exception to that. After the released of the full-length installments Transposed Emotions, in 2015, Machination, in 2016, The Key to the World, in 2017, and more recently The 7 Endless, in 2019, it’s time for the band spearheaded by the stunning vocalist Angela Di Vincenzo (Kyla Moyl) together with guitarist and keyboardist Andy Menario (Martiria), bassist Michele Raspanti (S.O.S., Graal) and drummer Alex Beccati to take the world of heavy music by storm once again with their fifth album, entitled Against, exhaling endless energy, epicness and romance though the band’s feast of heavy riffs, soaring vocals and electronic elements. In other words, you will find all types of songs in Against, from the most romantic, intimate and mellow one to dark, fast and powerful tunes, all of them about being overwhelmed in a hurricane of emotions, exactly how we like it in Symphonic Metal.

The opening track Spira Mirabilis sounds ominous and atmospheric like the soundtrack to a dark horror movie, suddenly exploding into captivating Symphonic Metal led by Angela’s potent vocals who’s always supported by the theatrical performance by her band members, with Andy kicking ass with his wicked keys. And Andy also slashes his strings in great fashion in Shades of Humanity, accompanied by the thunderous bass by Michele while Angela continues to shine on vocals, sounding heavier than its predecessor but at the same time very delicate and also presenting strident guitar solos and never-ending stamina. Then it’s time for Secret Rule to put the pedal to the metal and offer us all a feast of rock and metal sounds in Rise Again, showcasing a great balance between the pounding beats by Alex and the futuristic keys by Andy, while at the same time blending elements from the music by Evanescence, Epica and Lacuna Coil; followed by the more introspective and cryptic Going Nowhere, a song perfect for Angela to steal the spotlight with her dark and sexy vocals amidst the solid and dense musicality blasted by the whole band.

Adding a touch of modernity to their musicality, with hints of Rammstein’s Industrial Metal being thoroughly inserted into its core but still keeping the band’s classic Symphonic Metal intact, of course, Digital Revolution is beyond exciting and vibrant from start to finish, becoming one of the best moments of the album without any doubt. Endless Promises is a radio-friendly tune by Secret Rule spearheaded by Alex’s unstoppable drums while Angela takes her vocals up a notch, sounding and feeling very pleasant right from the very first second, whereas Purgatory is a lot groovier and more demonic thanks to its harsh vocals, building a great paradox with Angela’s angelical voice, not to mention Andy’s flammable solos. Put differently, it will certainly please all fans of the genre, which can also be said about the title-track Against, bringing forward a video game-inspired intro that’s quickly joined by the band’s characteristic riffs and beats, keeping the album at a high level of adrenaline.

Deep Solitude sounds a little generic if compared to the rest of the album despite the great job done by Angela on vocals; nothing that would harm the album though, as it can be quite entertaining for many fans, as a matter of fact. Fortunately, they get back on track with Outsiders, another fun composition uniting the electricity of Symphonic Metal with the modern and futuristic nuances of orchestral music, with Andy, Michele and Alex being on absolute fire with their thunderous instruments, while My Last Breath flirts with Alternative Rock and Metal, resulting in a semi-ballad that sounds at the same time very gentle and obscure, with Angela embellishing the airwaves with another passionate vocal performance. And lastly, the keys by Andy dictate the rhythm in the closing tune Don’t Let Me Fade, where Alex pounds his drums potently and Andy injects an extra dosage of electricity to the song’s pace through his always sharp guitar solos.

As already mentioned, Secret Rule are not only an unstoppable, hardworking band hailing form Italy, but their talent is also undeniable as we can all see in their brand new opus Against, and if you want to know more about Angela and the boys you can get in touch with them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and listen to more of their music on Spotify. Also, above all that, don’t forget to preorder your copy of Against from the band’s own webstore in a Special Limited Edition Boxset format, from Record Shop X or from Apple Music, and soon from other locations such as the Pride & Joy Music webstore. Let’s enjoy this fresh and exciting new endeavor by Secret Rule now in 2020, attending their live concerts and raising our horns for such distinct metal act from Italy, and when 20201 comes I’m sure Angela, Andy & Co. will present us with another round of their awesome Symphonic Metal. Because you know, Secret Rule never know when to stop, which in their case is always a very good thing.

Best moments of the album: Spira Mirabilis, Rise Again, Digital Revolution and Outsiders.

Worst moments of the album: Deep Solitude.

Released in 2020 Pride & Joy Music

Track listing
1. Spira Mirabilis 4:03
2. Shades of Humanity 3:29
3. Rise Again 4:37
4. Going Nowhere 4:56
5. Digital Revolution 3:56
6. Endless Promises 3:36
7. Purgatory 3:50
8. Against 4:34
9. Deep Solitude 3:47
10. Outsiders 4:30
11. My Last Breath 3:35
12. Don’t Let Me Fade 3:46

Band members
Angela Di Vincenzo – vocals
Andy Menario – guitars, keys
Michele Raspanti – bass
Alex Beccati – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Nadja Peulen

Say it, Nadja! We’re out for blood!

As part of our annual tradition here at The Headbanging Moose, the first metal chick of the year must be a badass bass player to properly kick things off with a lot of thunder and heaviness just the way we like it in Heavy Metal, and in 2020 that couldn’t be any different than that, of course. Having said that, get ready to venture through the realms of Alternative and Nu Metal with the one and only Nadja Peulen, a German-born bassist and backing vocalist currently based in Los Angeles, California, in the United States known for bringing tons of groove to our avid ears as the bassist for American metallers Coal Chamber from 1999 to 2000, again between 2002 and 2003, and one last time after a huge band hiatus from 2013 until 2016 when the group disbanded once and for all.

Born on January 10, 1975 somewhere in the always beautiful Germany, our 1.73m-tall blue-eyed, red-haired bassist started her life in music at a very early age due to her family travelling a lot and staying at several different places, always on the road in the name of Rock N’ Roll, always surrounded by distinct people, and always attending music concerts. Of Polish and German descent, Nadja grew up in the Netherlands and listened to a lot of 70’s music such as Motown, disco and classic rock at home because of her parents, being highly influenced by those styles in her current way of playing bass. Originally starting out studying art with aspirations to be a painter, Nadja naturally decided to switch to music, playing drums before becoming a bassist and continuing her career as a drummer after moving to Los Angeles when she was only 18, learning from renowned drummers and jamming with several different musicians (while at the same time working in different jobs such as tiling bathrooms and working as a waitress in a strip bar).

After a while, when Nadja decided she wanted to get more into songwriting, she was given a bass guitar (a cheap $100 one, by the way) and started playing with one finger only, gradually evolving to a couple more fingers and never having a single lesson in her life. Three months later, she was already in an all-girl band named Tail, playing around Hollywood for a couple of years at Whisky a Go Go, The Viper Room and whatever clubs were there at the time. After a couple of years, Nadja was invited to join Los Angeles-based Nu Metal outfit Coal Chamber in 1999 while bassist Rayna Foss-Rose was on maternity leave, and again after the recording of the 2002 album Dark Days when Rayna left the band for good, playing live with the band in several domestic and international tours with bands like Drowning Pool co-headlining the tours. Despite not having recorded the bass lines in Dark Days, Nadja is featured in the official video for Fiend, one of the band’s most well known songs which is thought to be about how the band and the Nu Metal genre were getting heavily criticized at the time. In addition, Nadja was also featured as the band’s bass player in the excellent concert Live at the Maritime Hall, San Francisco, CA, 1999 in the bonus DVD from the 2005 special re-release of their 1997 debut album Coal Chamber.

Then after a long period of silence from 2003 until 2011, Coal Chamber reunited for a short run of international shows with bassist Chela Rhea Harper instead of Nadja, but our talented red-haired bassist officially returned to the band in October 2013 shortly before the band signed to Napalm Records to record a new album. “Beyond happy and excited today to announce my return on bass with Coal Chamber,” Nadja wrote on the day of her official return to the band. “I’ve missed my brothers and can’t wait to rock the stage with them again and see all of you!” It was in May 2015 that Coal Chamber released their fourth album in thirteen years and their only studio album with Nadja on bass, entitled Rivals, adding a touch of Groove Metal to their musicality while at the same time distancing themselves from their previous Gothic Metal style. From Rivals, you can enjoy Nadja’s rumbling bass punching you in the face in songs like Another Nail In The Coffin, Suffer In Silence (featuring Ministry’s driving force Al Jourgensen on guest vocals), and I.O.U. Nothing.

Apart from her awesome stints with Coal Chamber, Nadja was also the bass player and backing vocalist for a Los Angeles-based Theatrical/Alternative Avantgarde Rock duo known as Vera Mesmer, together with vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Christopher Mesmer, formerly of Reveille, as well as guest drummer Bones Elias (Julien K, formerly of Dead by Sunrise), from 2010 until 2013. Vera Mesmer left two very interesting releases to the world before the duo parted ways in 2013, those being the 2012 EP Orphans and the 2013 single Down the Hole, showing a different and very theatrical storytelling side of both Chris and Nadja, as you can see for example in the official video for the song Back from the Dead. “We’re constantly brainstorming and creating. We’ve completely let go of templates and we don’t stick to the genre game,” said Nadja about the artistic freedom she found with Vera Mesmer while the band was still active. “We encompass all music styles while still undeniably retaining that Vera Mesmer sound.”

You can also find Nadja lending her thunderous bass lines to a project entitled Roadrunner United from 2005 to 2008, having recorded the excellent single and video The End together with Dino Cazares (Fear Factory), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour) and Matt Heafy (Trivium), among others, for the 2005 album The All-Star Sessions, as well as the 2008 DVD featuring a making of and a live concert with several artists such as Ville Valo (HIM), Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Tim “Ripper” Owens, with Nadja kicking some serious ass in songs like Type O Negative’s all-time classic Black No. 1 together with Ville Valo on vocals, Andreas Kisser on lead guitar, Dino Cazares on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards, and Tired ‘n Lonely together with Mina Caputo on vocals, Matt Baumbach on lead guitar, Acey Slade on rhythm guitar, Joey Jordison on drums and Rob Caggiano on keyboards. Furthermore, between 2004 and 2006, Nadja was also featured in the music videos for the songs (Rock) Superstar and What’s Your Number? as part of the backup band with Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Christian Olde Wobbers (Fear Factory), both by American Hip-Hop group Cypress Hill.

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As already mentioned, Nadja has a wide and eclectic taste for music, with her primary influences lying along the Trip Hop, Industrial and Alternative Rock and Metal vein the likes of Massive Attack, Killing Joke, The Cult, Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction, Ministry, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, David Bowie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grand Funk Railroad and Stevie Wonder, with the one and only Iggy Pop being part of one of the most exciting moments in her career. A friend of hers called Whitney, who used to play guitar for Iggy Pop, invited Nadja for a jamming session one day, but she initially said no. “Why don’t you come down to the Swinghouse and jam with me and a couple of friends?”, said Whitney, and she promptly answered “Well I’m in bed. My bass is dusty and I’m watching TV. I really don’t feel like jamming with you right now.” Whitey called back a couple of times and finally said, “Well, it’s Iggy and he wants to jam with you.” Nadja didn’t believe her friend, saying “Yeah you’re fucking with me. You just want me to come down there and hang out.” Then she got another phone call from Iggy’s manager, which turned out to be his son Eric. He said, “Yeah, Iggy Pop is down here and he really, really wants to jam with you.” She still thought it was a prank, when she finally got a phone call from Iggy himself where she recognized his voice and nearly pissed her pants. Iggy said, “Nadja, I have heard a lot of really good things about you. I want to jam with you. Come down here – can you be here in 10 minutes?” Needless to say, Nadja joined her idol and they jammed for a few hours, with Nadja later saying in one of her interviews that she was always afraid to meet someone like Iggy Pop because she believed a person like that would probably be an asshole and she would never be able to listen to his music the same way. However, he was really nice to her, a humble guy exactly how anyone would expect.

Regarding her life on the road with Coal Chamber, Nadja mentioned in one of her interviews that she really loved playing the songs Another Nail In The Coffin and Bad Blood Between Us live with the band, both from the album Rivals, and that she would have loved to be in a tour co-headlined by Coal Chamber, System Of A Down and Korn, the latter with whom Coal Chamber only played at the same festivals such as Heavy Montreal in 2015 and Graspop Metal Meeting in 2013. When questioned about the fact she was the only female on the tours with Coal Chamber, she said that it was indeed challenging as she had for example to get dressed in the bathroom of the bus, which was a very small space. However, Nadja also said she was fine being the only girl in a “boy’s club”, complementing by saying that being utterly professional was what kept everything working well. Also, on a side note, Nadja mentioned being on stage, being in that moment, is when her mind stops and she can achieve some peace of mind, having also achieved that peace by doing yoga, more specifically Kundalini Yoga, a school of yoga influenced by Shaktism and Tantra schools of Hinduism.

Nadja also launched in 2003 her own T-shirt and apparel company called CruelTees, selling her products not only online but also through stores such as Hot Topic. Owner and head designer of CruelTees, Nadja has always loved painting and sketching, having even been in Art Academy before quitting it to move to Los Angeles, with her designs fusing dark Gothic and wild Rock N’ Roll images with clever slogans. However, if you click on the official website for CruelTees, it will redirect you to her website Sonic Dominion without any products available. There are a few items in her webshop, though, but nothing related to CruelTees. Perhaps Nadja is working on a new collection for the future? If you’re curious to know more about CruelTees and ask Nadja for any updates on the brand, you can message her directly through her official website contact form, and who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the first to receive news on a new series of CruelTees shirts and apparel.

Endorsed by Schecter Guitars, Mesa Boogie, Dean Markley Strings, Monster Energy Drink and Monster Cable, our skillful bassist, who by the way thinks labeling a music style is not really that relevant, commented in one of her interviews that she’s happy to see an increasing number of female bass players (as well as guitarists and drummers) out in the market playing with their bands, which is always a good thing in heavy music, also saying she likes the fact that several of those bassists are adopting the finger style when playing their instruments, something that was a taboo in the past. Nadja herself is a finger bass player, as mentioned before, and the fact this old school technique is becoming popular again brings a lot of joy to her heart. And last but not least, Nadja’s relationship with her fans is quite healthy, with some of her fans even becoming her personal friends. She said that she can’t obviously answer everything to everyone due to her busy schedule, as she doesn’t consider herself an Internet person with enough time for social media. She actually doesn’t enjoy engaging on social media on a personal level, focusing on her work as a musician and as a designer instead. We have to agree with Nadja on that, and if you want to know more about her professional career you can either follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or watch some of her interviews and other videos on YouTube like the BIAS FX demo, an interview during Heavy Montreal in 2015, an interview to INDIEPOWER TV! in 2015, or an interview she gave to Dean Markley at NAMM also in 2015. What are you waiting for to let one of the most badass female bassists of all time show you all she got? Nadja kicks some serious ass, and she will crush you like an insect with her thunderous bass, no doubt about that.

Nadja Peulen’s Official Facebook page
Nadja Peulen’s Official Instagram
Nadja Peulen’s Official Twitter
Nadja Peulen’s Official YouTube channel
Coal Chamber’s Official Facebook page
Coal Chamber’s Official Instagram
Coal Chamber’s Official Twitter

“To me being on stage and playing music is one of the best things because I have a very busy mind – I’m always thinking.” – Nadja Peulen

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The year of 2019 might be reaching its inevitable end in the blink of an eye for most of us, but if there’s one thing we must admit is that it has been indeed a year of countless events, episodes and changes with a huge impact on how pretty much everything works in our Heavy Metal universe. For instance, 2019 was the year where we unfortunately witnessed the ultimate campaign by Thrash Metal titans Slayer, who at the same time left an undisputed and brilliant legacy to Heavy Metal and a giant hole in our hearts and in the global Thrash Metal scene. Do you think there’s any band that can fill that gap created by the end of Slayer? In my humble opinion, although I love bands like Exodus, Testament and Death Angel, I doubt anyone can claim Slayer’s throne as the meanest, most demonic and most pulverizing band of all time, but that doesn’t mean Thrash Metal is dead and gone. Quite the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking, with many of the underground bands reviewed at The Headbanging Moose contributing to keep the flame of such distinct subgenre of heavy music burning bright.

In addition, 2019 was also the year we lost many of our rock and metal icons, including André Matos (vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper), Larry Wallis (former guitarist of Motörhead), and Timi Hansen (former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond), as well as several talented musicians from non-metal styles like Marie Fredriksson (lead singer and keyboardist of Roxette), Keith Flint (frontman of The Prodigy), and the “King of the Surf Guitar”, Mr. Dick Dale. However, even with all those significant losses, we can say 2019 was a productive year for rock and metal music, with many iconic and underground bands delivering some fantastic albums for our total delectation, and that’s why here we are again with The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2019, excluding EP’s, best of’s and live albums, to prove once and for all that heavy music will never, ever die. Having said that, enjoy our list of top metal albums for this year that’s coming to an end, and keep raising your horns high together with us in 2020!

1. Rammstein – Rammstein (REVIEW)
A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.
Best song of the album: Deutschland

2. Necronomicon – UNUS (REVIEW)
Canadian powerhouses of Blackened Death Metal return with the heaviest, most obscure and most infernal opus of their career.
Best song of the album: Infinituum Continuum

3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics (REVIEW)
It’s time to burn in the fires of the dark and occult Black Metal crafted by the greatest Greek institution in the history of heavy music.
Best song of the album: Fire God and Fear

4. Soilwork – Verkligheten (REVIEW)
Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters return in full force with a fresh, groovy and addictive album of first-class heavy music.
Best song of the album: Stålfågel

5. The Agonist – Orphans (REVIEW)
Canadian juggernauts of Melodic Death Metal return with a brand new album that’s more extreme, more melodic and more exciting than ever.
Best song of the album: Blood as My Guide

6. Helevorn – Aamamata (REVIEW)
Embrace darkness and melancholy with the breathtaking new opus by one of the most interesting names from the current Spanish scene.
Best song of the album: Aurora

7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (REVIEW)
The world’s most famous masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.
Best song of the album: Unsainted

8. Amon Amarth – Berserker (REVIEW)
Raise the shield wall, hold your hammers high, and unleash the berserker that lives inside you together with Amon Amarth.
Best song of the album: Shield Wall

9. Target – Deep Water Flames (REVIEW)
Let’s all dive into the incendiary deep waters of Technical and Progressive Death Metal ruled by this amazing band from Chile.
Best song of the album: Oceangrave

10. Singularity – Place of Chains (REVIEW)
The emotions of being wrongfully imprisoned turned into an ass-kicking hybrid of Technical Death Metal and Symphonic Black Metal.
Best song of the album: Ritual of Regret

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Grand Magus – Wolf God (REVIEW)
12. Hiss From The Moat – The Harrier (REVIEW)
13. Lucifera – La Caceria De Brujas (REVIEW)
14. Alunah – Violet Hour (REVIEW)
15. Dö – Astral Death Cult (REVIEW)
16. Rifftera – Across the Acheron (REVIEW)
17. Rage Of Light – Imploder (REVIEW)
18. Rexoria – Ice Breaker (REVIEW)
19. HerezA – Death Metal Drunks (REVIEW)
20. Aephanemer – Prokopton (REVIEW)

Also, let’s not forget about some of the best albums which, although might be short in duration, they did bring to our ears an endless amount of heaviness, speed and harmony this year, accrediting them to be part of our Top 10 EP’s of 2019. As you can see, those EP’s were recorded by the most diverse types of bands and artists from all over the world, becoming some sort of “tasting sample” of what we can expect from those metallers in a not-so-distant future.

1. Eleine – All Shall Burn (REVIEW)
2. Quilombo – Itankale (REVIEW)
3. Master’s Call – Morbid Black Trinity (REVIEW)
4. Violent Life Violent Death – Sadness Rains (REVIEW)
5. Angra Demana – Triptych Of Decay (REVIEW)
6. Vorga – Radiant Gloom (REVIEW)
7. Shuulak – Citrinitas (REVIEW)
8. Moanaa – Torches (REVIEW)
9. Exuviated – Déliquescence (REVIEW)
10. Sophist – Betrothal To The Stone: Conception of Mephisto (REVIEW)

Do you agree with our list? What are your top 10 albums of 2019? And, as usual, don’t forget to tune in every Tuesday at 10pm BRT on Rádio Coringão to enjoy the best of classic and underground metal with Jorge Diaz and his Timão Metal, and every Thursday at 8pm UTC on Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio for the best of underground metal with The Headbanging Moose Show!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2020!

And before The Headbanging Moose takes a well-deserved break to recover our energies and return in full force in 2020, how about we enjoy what’s probably one of the best and most detailed “Christmas” songs of all time, the fantastic Valhalleluja, recently released by Italian Heavy/Power Metal outfit Nanowar of Steel? This is the perfect soundtrack for your Christmas night with your loved ones, especially if you give someone anything from IKEA as a Christmas gift. Well, simply watch the official video below and follow the lyrics to understand what I’m talking about. Having said that, let’s all pray to Odin, drink beer and sing Valhalleluja together with Nanowar of Steel, my friends!

Metal Chick of the Month – Thais Amaral

Soldado não para!

If you’re a fan of the Crossover Thrash played by bands like Sepultura and Lamb of God, but at the same time highly influenced by Alternative and New Metal the likes of Korn, Jinjer and Deftones, get ready to be absolutely stunned by our metal chick of the month of November, who’s more than ready to rock like there’s no tomorrow together with her bandmates from a Brazilian band that goes by the stylish name of Endigna. Owner of a potent and versatile voice, she can deliver first-class clean vocals as well as demonic roars to our avid ears, both in Brazilian Portuguese and in English, leaving us all disoriented after her sonic attack is said and done. I’m talking about Thais Amaral, also known as Thais Endigna or even Babby Drunk, not only the frontwoman for Endigna but also a woman that brings a very welcome (and aggressive) feminine touch to a scene dominated by men.

Born and raised in Taboão da Serra, a municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil and part of the Metropolitan Region of the city of São Paulo, Thais started her life in music when she was around 8 or 9 years old because of the religious direction of her own family. As part of a gospel family, she got used to seeing people around her singing and playing different musical instruments; however, she only got interested in singing, never in playing an instrument, which led her to be part of the children’s choir at her church, moving on to the teenage group and to the youth group, later forming an all-female quintet where they used to sing a slightly different musical style more inclined to Soul and R&B. Although she decided to leave the church only when she was 16, she used to listen to a lot of rock music from the 90’s since she was around 12, which ended up having a huge influence on her desire to have her own band. That dream kind of came true when she was about to turn 18 years old, in 2003, when she formed a band named Goma 84, which unfortunately lasted for only two years until it was dissolved due to the different musical directions each member wanted to take. Through the years, apart from popular singing, Thais has also been enrolled in a course at IC&T – Instituto de Canto e Tecnologia in São Paulo, Brazil specialized in Heavy Metal vocal techniques, taught by Brazilian vocalist Thiago Bianchi (Shaman, Noturnall).

It was in 2007 that Thais formed her current band Endigna together with drummer (and also her husband) Tiago Sorrentino, aiming at showing a more aggressive side of rock and metal with lyrics in Portuguese, dealing with different introspective and rebellious topics. Highly influenced by renowned acts like Sepultura, Pantera, Lamb of God and Korn, as well as some very interesting names of the Brazilian scene such as Nação Zumbi and Raimundos, the band comprised of our metal lady Thais Amaral (or in this case Babby Drunk) on vocals, Tom Ayres on the guitar, Bruno Mota on bass and Tiago Sorrentino on drums released their debut EP entitled Soldado Não Para (which would translate as “a soldier doesn’t stop” or “a soldier never stops” from Portuguese) in 2014, and despite all the changes in their lineup through the years the band has solidified their name in the Brazilian underground scene, having already played in several cities across the country. At first, when the band was created, Thais and her bandmates were not exactly sure of what they wanted to do apart from obviously having fun playing in a metal band, and what started as a form of entertainment with the band playing cover songs from bands like Sepultura, System of a Down and Disturbed (like this live footage from 2012 where they play the classic Down with the Sickness), plus a couple of original compositions, quickly evolved to a more serious project, attracting more and more people curious to see that fusion of extreme music with female clean and harsh vocals.

In 2018, while Endigna was recording their first full-length album, Thais and Tiago faced a lot of problems with lineup changes and different musical ideas, which forced Thais to end the recordings and put an end also to Endigna as a band. However, after uploading on YouTube a vocal cover video for the song Pisces, by one of her favorite bands, Ukrainian metallers Jinjer, Thais was informed the video was not only seen by Jinjer themselves, but the band posted it on their official Facebook page, acknowledging it as the best cover version to one of their songs they’ve ever seen. If that wasn’t enough to make Thais extremely happy and proud of herself, Endigna were later invited to be the opening act for Jinjer at Manifesto Bar in São Paulo during their Latin American tour that year. Needless to say, that was a dream come true for Thais and the boys, re-igniting the fire inside Endigna for the delight of all fans of the band. If you want to enjoy the flammable music and live performances by Thais and her bandmates from Endigna, I recommend you take a good look and and even better listen at several Youtube videos from their official channel such as De Mãos Dadas, Pecado, Soldado Não Para, Lei Da Obediência, and several live videos like Morre Que Passa, Salvação at Mineiro Rock Bar, Pecado and Cara Da Derrota at Manifesto Bar in 2015, and Salvação, Sufocante and Lei Da Obediência live at Crazy Festival at Led Slay in 2011. Also ,don’t forget to check their SoundCloud page and official Instagram profile to know more about the band and their music.

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Apaart from her career with Endigna, our dauntless Thais can also be seen singing on the song Olho por Olho (which literally translates as “eye for an eye”) by a very peculiar project curiously named D.A.T.E.N.N.A (Desgraceiras Aterradoras Televisionadas Em Notícias Nada Agradáveis), a wordplay with the name of a Brazilian journalist who hosts a hideous TV show that deals mostly with the urban violence and nasty crimes in various regions of Brazil, as well as her aforementioned YouTube channel where you can find her vocal covers for Jinjer’s Pisces and Arch Enemy’s Reason To Believe, featuring special guest Hebberty Taurus,  guitarist for a Brazilian metal band called Dakhmas. Furthermore, Thais is also a skillful tattoo artist, running her own studio called Thais Amaral Tattoo in her hometown Taboão Da Serra (and you can get more details about the studio directly from its Facebook page or Instagram).

Regarding her biggest idols, influences and favorite bands and artists, Thais always mentions in her interviews iconic groups like Lamb Of God, Slayer, Deftones, Otep, Faith No More, A Perfect Circle, Tool and Stone Temple Pilots, and even pop artists like Beyoncé and P!nk; in addition, Thais also said in one of her social media profiles that the saddest song she’s ever listened to is Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, the movie she’s watched the most in her life is The Craft, from 1996, saying she even owns it in VHS and DVD, and that she recommends the song Kriptonita, by a band named Ludov, for anyone who’s looking for good music from the Brazilian rock scene.

Thais, who by the way has been suffering from bulimia for several years but that fortunately has also been able to control that inner monster, said in one of her interviews that although the rock and metal scene are still considered sexist by many, she doesn’t really feel that difference or discrimination as she works better with guys than with girls, but that she obviously understands from a viewer standpoint that there’s a lot more pressure on women than on men. Also, our talented growler currently enjoys full support from her family in regards to her career as a musician, complementing by saying that this wasn’t the case in the beginning as the type of music played by Endigna isn’t exactly what we can consider a cash cow. Nevertheless, Thais and Endigna truly love to hit the stage and kick some serious asses, with her “ritual” before her live performances including a facial muscle warm-up, vocalizations and gargling with lukewarm water to drain her vocal chords, and after the concert is over she doesn’t talk or say anything for four or six hours to recover her voice.

Lastly, when asked about the rock and metal scene in her hometown and in the rest of Brazil, Thais said that there are countless amazing bands all over the country that deserve our attention, despite of course all hassles and barriers faced by any underground band that plays heavy music. She complemented by saying that her interaction with all organizers, as well as with all fans of heavy music, is always fantastic, praising the hard work by everyone involve in all festivals and events where Endigna played and saying she loves to interact with the fans, without whom Endigna wouldn’t exist in her opinion, also mentioning the importance of the internet for the band to spread their music, their videos and tour dates. And, as a bonus, if you speak fluent Brazilian Portuguese or have a very good understanding of the language, simply sit down, relax and enjoy this nice interview with Thais to a series called “A Cena É Delas” for Motim Underground, where she talks about everything that was mentioned above and more, focusing on the role of women in the current scene, showing that the underground in Brazil is stronger than ever with talented musicians like Thais proudly carrying the flag of heavy music wherever they go.

Thais Amaral’s Official Facebook page
Thais Amaral’s Official Instagram
Thais Amaral’s Official Twitter
Thais Amaral’s Official YouTube channel
Endigna’s Official Facebook page

Endigna’s Official Instagram
Endigna’s Official Twitter
Endigna’s Official YouTube channel

Album Review – Chasing Embers / Beckoning Call (2019)

The debut album by this up-and-coming Ukrainian outfit is a fresh and exciting feast of modern-day Alternative Metal revolving around our inner world, our thoughts, desires and aspirations.

Founded in 2016 in Kyiv, Ukraine by drummer Vladyslav Pospolitak, who quit all his previous projects back then to focus on the creation of his own band, the story of Alternative Metal outfit Chasing Embers actually began when vocalist July Tallina joined the band as their frontwoman after numerous unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable candidate to be their male vocalist. Comprised of the aforementioned Vladyslav and July, guitarist and co-founder Alexey Hrankyn, and newcomers Oleksandr Zahorulia also on the guitar and Vladyslav Kachanovskyi on bass, Chasing Embers are strongly influenced by a wide range of styles, from old school rock and metal music to Alternative and Nu Metal from the 2000’s, and that full-bodied amalgamation of sounds can be appreciated in detail in their debut album titled Beckoning Call.

Featuring a dark and pensive cover art conceptualized by July herself, Beckoning Call deals with the issues of industrialization and human separation from nature, with its lyrics revolving around our inner world, our thoughts, desires and aspirations. Aiming at writing about things they experienced in their own lives in order to achieve the utmost honesty in their songs, Chasing Embers deliver a fresh and exciting feast of modern metal music in their debut album, being recommended for fans of female-fronted bands like Evanescence, Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation as well as more alternative acts such as Korn and Linkin Park. Not only that, the crystal clear production of Beckoning Call is also way above average, enhancing the impact of each instrument and, therefore, making the whole experience of listening to the album a lot more detailed and enjoyable.

A captivating intro led by Vladyslav Kachanovskyi’s metallic bass sets fire to the album in the opening track Beckoning Call, one of those songs perfect for headbanging vigorously while enjoying July’s fiery vocals all at once, resulting in a beautiful welcome card by the band that flows smoothly into Desires And Fears, bringing forward a well-balanced fusion of Alternative Rock and Metal with Alexey and Oleksandr being on fire with their unstoppable riffs, while its lyrics will penetrate deep inside your psyche (“Let’s try to make something better / Than reality / Just stop and show me / What you’ve got / I want to fill it forever / Room deep inside / I want to find out what is a lie”). And an atmospheric, ethereal start grows in intensity until all hell breaks loose in Spiritual, feeling like a hybrid of the music by Evanescence and Lacuna Coil and with Vladyslav Pospolitak dictating the song’s rhythm while Vladyslav Kachanovskyi keeps blasting his bass chords in great fashion.

The band’s skillful bassist keeps bringing thunder and groove to the band’s music in High Stakes, providing July all she needs to shine on vocals in another melodic display of modern rock music showcasing a catchy rhythm and endless electricity; whereas in Carnage it’s time for a more serene and charming moment inspired by the music by Evanescence, with the spotlight being of course on July and her passionate vocals, all enhanced by a soulful guitar solo and some gentle piano notes. Then the excellent Silent House starts in a wicked way and evolves into an absolute madhouse of Alternative Metal, a lot heavier and more austere than all previous songs, which means it will work amazingly when played live especially due to the adrenaline blasted by Vladyslav Pospolitak on drums and July’s darkened vocals.

Once again dealing with mental issues (“Turn off the light / I’m falling into my mind / This room is quite / Where real me waits a sign / Just draw the crack / And water will come in / Just draw the crack / And water will come in”), Drown With Me offers the listener a good dosage of heaviness albeit sounding very smooth at the same time, with the passion coming from July’s words being truly captivating while Alexey and Oleksandr extract piercing and touching riffs from their axes; and Chasing Embers do not stop smashing their instruments, bringing to our ears the also solid and well-crafted Last Night Tonight, speeding things up a bit and incorporating elements from Progressive Metal to their sonority. Lastly, the quintet fires more of their alternative music in The Moonman, a good rockin’ tune that’s a little generic if compared to the rest of the album, with its guitars and bass sounding as vibrant as usual.

If you’re a fan of this more alternative side of music like what Chasing Embers deliver in Beckoning Call, you can take a detailed listen at the entire album on Spotify, and obviously purchase it from the band’s BandCamp page or webstore, or simply click HERE for all places where you can listen to or put your hands on such distinct album. Also, keep an eye on their Facebook page, VKontakte and YouTube channel for more of their music, tour dates, news and other nice-to-know details about their career, and may those talented Ukrainian metallers keep embellishing the airwaves with their stylish musical creations for many decades to come for our total delectation.

Best moments of the album: Beckoning Call, High Stakes and Silent House.

Worst moments of the album: The Moonman.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Beckoning Call 6:15
2. Desires And Fears 4:39
3. Spiritual 5:19
4. High Stakes 4:09
5. Carnage 3:31
6. Silent House 4:51
7. Drown With Me 5:27
8. Last Night Tonight 4:41
9. The Moonman 5:09

Band members
July Tallina – vocals
Alexey Hrankyn – guitar
Oleksandr Zahorulia – guitar
Vladyslav Kachanovskyi – bass
Vladyslav Pospolitak – drums