Metal Chick of the Month – Cristina Scabbia

Follow me, follow me… As I trip the darkness…

If you write her name with an “h”, she will kick your ass mercilessly. That’s probably the most fun way to introduce you to our beyond special Metal Chick of the Month, the electrified Italian rocker Cristina Scabbia, one of the most influential and reputable women in the entire world of heavy music and the perfect choice for celebrating four metallic and totally awesome years of The Headbanging Moose webzine this October. Owner of a distinct and very potent voice, Cristina Scabbia, whose full name is Cristina Adriana Chiara Scabbia, was born on June 6, 1972 in the cosmopolitan city of Milan, a metropolis in Italy’s northern Lombardy region and a global capital of fashion and design. Best known as one of the two vocalists for Italian Alternative Rock/Metal band Lacuna Coil, Cristina is not only an accomplished singer and lyricist, but also a writer, a fashion model and, above all, a true headbanger who loves what she does and who has already devoted a good part of her life to Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Cristina was not even 20 years old when she began singing professionally as a touring musician for other bands and providing backing vocals, in 1991. Later that year, she met vocalist Andrea Ferro and bass player Marco Coti Zelati, who would be the future founding members of Lacuna Coil, in Milan’s Midnight Club, and there’s no way of talking about Cristina without talking about her unique connection with Lacuna Coil. Actually, when the band started it was called Sleep of Right, having recorded a song called Bleeding Souls for the Noise of Bolgia compilation in 1995. The band soon changed its name to Ethereal, playing an interesting mix of Gothic and Doom Metal, with Cristina being initially employed only as a session singer, being asked to record backup vocals for the choruses of their demo tape, but the band members liked the way the male and female vocals sounded together and they asked her to be a permanent member then. After several lineup changes and after releasing a two-track demo in 1996, Ethereal were signed by Century Media Records at the end of 1997 and had to change their name to Lacuna Coil (which means “empty spiral”), as Ethereal was already taken by a band from Greece.

After the name change in 1997, Lacuna Coil became a reference in Alternative Rock and Metal worldwide, having already released eight studio albums, those being In a Reverie (1999), Unleashed Memories (2001), Comalies (2002), Karmacode (2006), Shallow Life (2009), Dark Adrenaline (2012), Broken Crown Halo (2014), and more recently Delirium (2016), as well as the EP’s Lacuna Coil (1998), Halflife (2000), Shallow Live: Acoustic at Criminal Records (2010) and The House of Shame / Delirium (2016). In addition to that, the band also released a DVD in 2008, titled Visual Karma (Body, Mind and Soul). Each album by Lacuna Coil is very unique, presenting a different sonority from the others, with the band always adding new elements to their music and experimenting with new sounds. If you want to have a journey through the various phases of the band, paying a detailed attention to the evolution of Cristina (whose highest note ever hit is claimed to be an A7) as a singer and a performer, you should definitely check their songs Falling Again (from In a Reverie), Senzafine (from Unleashed Memories), Swamped (from Comalies), Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence (from Karmacode), I Like It (from Shallow Life), Trip to Darkness (from Dark Adrenaline), Nothing Stands in Our Way (from Broken Crown Halo), and Blood, Tears, Dust (from Delirium). As a matter of fact, there are so many official videos as well as bootlegs online with Cristina and Lacuna Coil you can literally spend hours or even days just watching everything nonstop.

Apart from her solid career with Lacuna Coil, Cristina can be seen in several distinct projects from the most diverse bands and genres, and in all of them she adds her personal touch of rebelliousness, passion and electricity. First let’s talk about her participation in metal-related bands and projects, and then let’s show what she can do when she’s not in her metallic mode. In 2007, Cristina lent her voice to the song S.O.S. (Anything but Love), from the album Worlds Collide by Finnish Symphonic Heavy Metal band Apocalyptica, and the result was so interesting she ended up playing several live concerts with them in the coming years. And it seems the year of 2007 was very fruitful for her career outside Lacuna Coil, as she also recorded what’s probably her biggest non-Lacuna Coil hit, the revamped version of the all-time classic power ballad “A Tout le Monde”, this time named A Tout le Monde (Set Me Free), by American Speed Metal titans Megadeth, featured on their excellent album United Abominations. Needless to say, every time Megadeth and Cristina were in the same city or festival, they ended up playing that amazing song together for the delight of the fans at the venue, as I was able to enjoy during the 2012 version of Gigantour with Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil here in Canada.

You can also find Cristina in unique metal projects such as the character “The Mother” on the 2013 album The Theory of Everything, by Dutch Progressive Metal/Rock band Ayreon, and as a guest vocalist on the song Scars, by Thrash/Groove Metal project Metal Allegiance, from their 2015 self-titled album. In addition, Cristina is also one of the musicians interviewed on the 2007 documentary Over the Madness, a DVD that follows the career of British Doom/Death Metal icons Paradise Lost, including interviews from present and past band members, plus a host of others such as the aforementioned Cristina, Martin E. Ain, Aaron Stainthorpe and Alex Skolnick, presenting the band’s history from its formation up to 2006, in chronological order.

In regards to her contributions to non-metal acts, you can enjoy the charming and powerful vocals by Cristina on different songs such as Beautiful Lie, as a duet with Italian singer Emiliano Audisio (Line 77) to be part of the soundtrack for the 2013 Italian film Passione Sinistra; Nell’acqua, with Rezophonic; an alternate version of Watch Over You, with Alter Bridge; Basta!, with L’Aura and Rezophonic; Can You Hear Me?, also with Rezophonic; and I’m That, with Franco Battiato. By the way, when Cristina sang with L’Aura it was in 2008 at Festival di Sanremo, one of the most important pop festivals in Italy (if not the most important one). And you can also find some nice videos online of Cristina singing together with a Queen tribute band called Queenmania, such as in the all-time classics Bohemian Rhapsody and Under Pressure. And in addition to all that, she also used to write an advice column in the popular rock magazine Revolver, alongside the iconic American drummer Vinnie Paul (Pantera, Hellyeah).

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If you follow The Headbanging Moose you might have seen Cristina’s name as an inspiration for several of our previous metal chicks, just showing how important she is to the expansion of the presence of women in heavy music, but of course as any normal person she also has her idols and favorite bands in music. Among her main influences and names who contributed to her becoming a singer and pursuing a career in Heavy Metal, Cristina mentioned legendary bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Motörhead, as well as darker bands like Paradise Lost and Type O Negative. By the way, some of her favorite songs, those that really make a good amount of adrenaline rush through her body, are Motörhead’s Ace of Spades and Type O Negative’s My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, which despite being very distinct songs I have to agree that they surely put a smile on the face of anyone who enjoys some good old rock and metal. Of course Cristina as any other talented and professional artist listens to a lot of non-metal music, in special music from her homeland Italy, which in the end helps her diversify her vocals from song to song, explore new horizons and remain vibrant and relevant to the world of heavy music.

Slightly changing the focus to her personal life, many of you might think it’s a dream to date a woman like her, but as in any relationship there are always some hurdles and barriers to be overcome in order to keep the passion and love going on. Cristina has been in a relationship with Slipknot and ex-Stone Sour guitarist Jim Root for over 10 years already, but keeping that relationship fresh is not an easy task due to distance between them as they’re both very busy musicians who are always on tour (not to mention the fact that Root lives in Florida while Cristina resides in Italy). “Well, my lifestyle is challenging already,” Cristina explained. “Because I travel a lot and I work very hard. So you have to learn to live your life in a different way, but in a way that works for you. So for me to even think about a normal relationship would be something weird.” Before dating Root, she was in a relationship with Lacuna Coil’s own bassist Marco, and when they broke up let’s say it wasn’t easy for them to keep working together as a band, but fortunately as decent adults they overcame that “issue” and now they’re very good friends, loving each other in a different level.

Another interesting topic discussed by Cristina in one of her interviews was related to the recent deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, where she expressed her opinion about mental illnesses, from depression to dementia to other types of mental conditions, saying we should never judge the others’ decisions as there’s so much to understand about the whole situation before reaching any conclusion. That was also explored on Lacuna Coil’s latest album Delirium. “When we did Delirium, it was really important for us to treat it in the most respectful and delicate way possible,” said Cristina. “Because you can try to send a positive message and to try to tell people, ‘Oh, you should be positive all the time, you should be happy, you should overcome depression,’ and everything, but it’s not as easy as you speak. It’s way deeper than that and more complicated than this.”

As any good Italian woman, in special if that woman is born in the city of Milan, Cristina loves stylish clothes, trying on new make-up, taking care of her dark hair and everything else that’s a synonym to fashion. For instance, she considers her beauty and make-up signature the one she herself calls a “raccoon look”, or as described by Cristina, “a heavy sort of smokey eyes style with carbon black eyeshadow surrounding both whole eyes and heavily in the lower part of the eye as well.” She also mentioned that, because she likes to combine styles and to work with contrasts, she likes to observe everything around her and go to runway shows in Milan, listing as some of her style icons the always trendy Madonna and the very elegant and dark British and Irish designer Daphne Guinness. Furthermore, she said her make-up and outfit behavior is in constant change due to new products, styles and techniques that are always appearing in the market, stating that while thinking about a new look for her concerts she always takes into account several important factors such as if the clothes are easy to carry around, if they’re washable, and if they allow her to move a lot onstage. Also in the fashion world, American photographer Jeremy Saffer (an old-time friend of Cristina) invited her to be her calendar girl for the Halloween 2015 Special Edition of XPRESSIONS magazine, with the final result being beyond stunning, of course, being sold out in a really short time.

Regarding her preparation for getting onstage and spending a long time on the road during Lacuna Coil’s extremely busy agenda worldwide, Cristina said she doesn’t exercise a lot, saying she’s some sort of “lazy bum”, and that concentration is the most important part of the process for her together with some warming up exercises to keep her voice in good shape. She said travelling all the time and managing everything is definitely not for everyone, but it can be very rewarding if you love what you do. One funny thing connected to that hectic lifestyle is that Cristina collects all her flight boarding cards, saying that one day it will be nice to see and to show others how much she’s traveled in her life. And, in terms of the apps she uses regularly, apart from Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Twitter, she’s also been using an app named Master Tour, which she considers very helpful for whoever does her type of job, keeping you updated on tours and schedules like a tour book in your smartphone. Hence, if you’re a touring musician, why not trying the same app as the successful Cristina Scabbia, right?

Lastly, when asked if she considers herself a role model for young girls, she said she doesn’t see herself as one but that all the love she gets from fans when she’s on the road makes her sometimes believe she might be indeed an inspiration for all of them. She always tells them that they have to believe in themselves because, no matter what, it is impossible to make everyone happy, so the key is to make ourselves happy and conscious of our own unique potential, with her motto in life being “live in the present and make it beautiful. I never think too much about the past or the future. The past is… gone and we will never be able to plan the future the perfect way.’’ What do you think about Cristina and her way of life? Do you agree with what she does and thinks in music and life in general? Well, there are tons of interesting interviews and videos of Cristina online to help you know more about her, such as this one from Loudwire called Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?, where she even tells if her highest note being an A7 is true or not. It seems that the world of heavy music and also the whole cyberworld can never get enough of the one and only Italian stunner Cristina Scabbia (without an “h”, per favore).

Cristina Scabbia’s Official Facebook page
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Twitter
Cristina Scabbia’s Official Instagram
Lacuna Coil’s Official Facebook page
Lacuna Coil’s Official YouTube channel
Lacuna Coil’s Official Instagram

“You have to sing with your heart, you have to sing with passion, you have to be sincere in what you’re singing, and you have to be totally convinced of what you’re doing. Most of all, you have to realize that this is a hard job that not everyone can take, so don’t look at the shiny part only, because there is a lot of work involved and a lot of sacrifice, so be ready for that as well..” – Cristina Scabbia

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Album Review – In a Testube / Immigration Anthems (2017)

Embark on the alternative voyage proposed by four skillful musicians from Greece, full of contrasting and groovy sounds, modern day-inspired lyrics and an energetic attitude.

With live appearances in a multitude of festivals and cities across Greece, Greek Alternative Metal act In a Testube has already shared the stage in their career with influential artists of the local and international scene such as Devil Wears Prada, Rotting Christ, Jane Doe and Need. Fans have described the band’s music as an amalgam of different styles, approaching the soundscape of Korn, Nine Inch Nails, System Of a Down, A Perfect Circle, Alice in Chains and Gojira, with the occasional inclusion of experimental touches which fuse American alternative styles to the more melodic approach of European artists.

Hailing from the city of Thessaloníki, In a Testube were conceived as a group in 1999 by friends and producers Dennis Konstantinidis and Theo Arabatzis, who together recorded a demo during the summer of that same year. The band even built a studio for the recording and production of their debut album Eleven, which took place between May 2005 and January 2006. Now in 2017, with a solid lineup comprised of Dennis Konstantinidis on vocals and guitar, Panos Papadopoulos on guitar, Petros Kabanis on bass and Konstantinos Mentesidis on drums, In a Testube are releasing an entertaining album of fresh metal and rock music entitled Immigration Anthems, featuring a clever artwork designed by guitarist Panos himself (who’s also known as “PeeAy”) and nothing less than thirteen compositions full of alternative and groovy sounds, modern day-inspired lyrics and an energetic attitude by all band members.

“God made man in his own image.” It’s with these words that the band kicks off the opening track, entitled Believe, slowly building the music by adding element after element until it reaches its final rockin’ rhythm and electrified vibe, with Dennis bringing some rebelliousness to the musicality with his raspy vocals. Sounding more contemporary and alternative, In the End is a mid-tempo Rock N’ Roll composition where the bass lines by Petros and the steady beats by Konstantinos dictate the rhythm; followed by C.I.C.O., the acronym for “Change Is Coming On”, a song about the need to change the way we do everything (“Tell me one thing / what could get worse? / It feels like we are cursed / with this darkness in you / the more, the worse is for you / No one showed us the line / and we are screwed big time / with the things that we do / I feel I have to change”). It’s definitely darker and heavier than the previous tunes thanks to the metallic riffs by Dennis and his bandmate Panos, as well as the always sick low-tuned bass by Petros. And blending modern Hard Rock with alternative elements in the background like what bands such as Dommin usually do, Hey Lilly showcases a great job done by Dennis in his personal “talk” with a woman called Lilly.

In Cloc, one of the heaviest of all songs, we face metallic riffs spiced up with hints of progressiveness, sounding at times like Gojira and Mastodon, with Petros and Konstantinos kicking ass in the band’s “kitchen” while Dennis enhances his aggressiveness on vocals. The radio-friendly tune Limitless begins with an eerie narration before getting truly alternative and electrified, drawing influences from bands like Korn and Linkin Park, with highlights to the precise performance by Dennis on vocals; whereas in Together as Two a promising start suddenly flows into a generic formula that doesn’t know if it’s a ballad or an Alternative Rock song. In other words, its instrumental parts are relatively well-engendered, but the song never really takes off. However, in Lucky Thirteen we’re treated to an eccentric atmosphere and tons of alternative elements added to the musicality, and just like “Limitless” this is a song perfect for some radio exposure, with Konstantinos leading the rhythm with his groovy and potent beats.

This talented Greek quartet keeps delivering top-tier Alternative Rock and Metal through their precise beats and heavy but melodic guitars in Many Things (and after listening to it you’ll have to agree they’re a “hit machine”), but it’s when they get more metal like in Flying Away that they thrive even more. It’s another tune with hints of Progressive Metal, presenting amazing guitar and bass lines, as well as the once again kick-ass beats by Konstantinos. Digital Eyes is a slow-paced, dark creation by In a Testube with the bass by Petros sounding menacing, reminding me a little of some contemporary songs by Metallica in regards to its rhythm, therefore bringing a fresh taste to the album in special due to its beautiful ending. In Slipping Away, the longest and most progressive of all tracks, the band blends elements from Groove Metal and Alternative Rock in a solid way, going from smooth and modern passages to hardcore growls and potent riffs, not to mention Petros’ awesome bass punches and the song’s crazy and innovative last part, morphing into the outro Mythu, which nicely wraps up the musical journey offered by the band.

You can embark on the modern and alternative voyage proposed by In a Testube by following them on Facebook and listening to their music on YouTube or ReverbNation, and purchase Immigration Anthems (which can be enjoyed in full HERE) through the New Dream Records’ webshop, on iTunes or on Amazon. These guys love what they do, they love good music, and it’s just a matter of time until several radio stations not only in Greece but all over the world begin blasting their solid creations through our speakers, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: C.I.C.O., Cloc, Flying Away and Digital Eyes.

Worst moments of the album: Together as Two.

Released in 2017 New Dream Records

Track listing
1. Believe 3:30
2. In the End 3:31
3. C.I.C.O. 4:28
4. Hey Lilly 4:14
5. Cloc 5:52
6. Limitless 5:33
7. Together as Two 5:11
8. Lucky Thirteen 4:13
9. Many Things 4:02
10. Flying Away 4:30
11. Digital Eyes 5:48
12. Slipping Away 6:52
13. Mythu 3:30

Band members
Dennis Konstantinidis – vocals, guitar
Panos Papadopoulos – guitar
Petros Kabanis – bass
Konstantinos Mentesidis – drums 

Guest musician
Nikos Magnisalis – Kavali solo on “Digital Eyes”

The Headbanging Moose Show – Thursdays @ 20:00 UTC exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio

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Attention, metalheads!

It’s time to rumble with THE HEADBANGING MOOSE SHOW every Thursday @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) exclusively at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, your London-based web radio blasting the best of heavy music nonstop 24/7!

Presented by Gustavo Scuderi, The Headbanging Moose Show will bring to you the cream of underground metal music, giving you a short and sweet background on every band played on the show. No silly jokes, no shenanigans… THIS IS PURE F****N’ METAL!

So remember, EVERY THURSDAY @ 20:00 UTC (with a reprise on Saturdays @ 19:00 UTC) tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to enjoy one hour of kick-ass underground metal from all over the world, courtesy of The Headbanging Moose!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
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Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden
Streamitter.com

Don’t forget to follow The Headbanging Moose on Facebook to know beforehand which bands will be played on the show every week.

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio Promo Hour Of The Day – From Monday To Friday @ 8pm GMT

http://midnight-madness.is-a-rockstar.com/Great news for all of you metalheads!

FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8pm GMT, one of our kick-ass partners, Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, broadcasting directly from London, England, will blast the best of underground metal music reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose during the PROMO HOUR OF THE DAY!

So remember, FROM MONDAY TO FRIDAY @ 8PM GMT tune into Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio to get your daily shot of the cream of the underground metal music crop, from Hard Rock to Black Metal, from Folk Metal to Thrash Metal, from Doom Metal to Metalcore, and so on! You’ll have the unique pleasure of listening to the superb music by bands like Charm Designer, Neverworld, Majesty Of Revival, Nervosa, False Coda, Atonismen, Diabolizer, The Silent Rage, Terrifier, Gaerea, and tons of other amazing metal acts from all over the world!

Here are all the options where can blow your speakers with Midnight Madness:

Official website
Twitter
Online Radio Box
Tunein
Streema
Listen2MyRadio
Radio Garden

And if you want to have your new album reviewed at The Headbanging Moose AND played at Midnight Madness Metal e-Radio, simply get in touch with us through our CONTACT US page.

Album Review – Dommin / Beautiful Crutch (2016)

Not only another step forward in the musical growth of this passionate Alternative Rock band from the United States, but also a highly recommended album for admirers of dark, lovesick music.

Rating4

dommin-beautiful-crutch-artworkTouching hearts and minds by making music that matters since their inception in Los Angeles, California in 1999, American Alternative/Gothic Rock quartet Dommin are releasing today their brand new full-length album Beautiful Crutch, following the great success achieved with their previous releases, the pain-ridden Love Is Gone (2010) and especially the darker Rise (2015). Overflowing romance, lust and hope, Beautiful Crutch is highly recommended for fans of the dark, lovesick music by renowned acts such as Type O Negative, Depeche Mode, Danzig, The Cure and HIM, among others, as well as the heavier Rock N’ Roll played by Volbeat and Bullet For My Valentine.

“Beautiful Crutch is another step forward in the band’s musical growth. While this is an expansion of the band’s soundscape, some of the moods will be familiar to those that fell in love with our first album”, stated the band’s enigmatic frontman and guitarist Kristofer Dommin. In Beautiful Crutch, Kristofer and his bandmates Billy James on bass, Konstantine on keyboards and Cameron Morris on drums deliver 11 beautiful, classy compositions blending elements from all the aforementioned bands with their own twist and personal experiences, making this a very personal and special album for them, and consequently a great addition to the collection of lovers of heartwarming rock music.

Dommin are ready to melt the hearts of the ladies with their Blues-ish Alternative Rock in Desire, a fiery declaration of love from Kristofer to a very special woman in his life (“I hunger and thirst / Naturally cursed / Never satisfied / Until the day I die / It’s you I desire / Whether it’s lose or win / It’s you I desire / And I can’t help but give in / It’s you I desire”), with drummer Cameron Morris keeping the passion flowing in the music through his slow and steady Goth beats. Show Me is an upbeat Rock N’ Roll tune with hints of Rockabilly, reminding me of some songs by Volbeat, where Kristofer and Billy do a great job with their respective guitar and bass, in special during the song’s kick-ass guitar solo; whereas The Scene is a radio-friendly rock song with the keyboards by Konstantine adding melancholy to the sonority. Furthermore, Kristofer might have a soft voice compared to almost all singers reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose, but he truly knows how to exhale strong emotions with his passionate performance.

Highly inspired by the pleasant sounding crafted by The Smiths, the soft rock chant This World blends an 80’s atmosphere with modern rock elements, showcasing a precise connection between the heavy bass sounds by Billy and the rhythmic drumming by Cameron. The next song, the title-track Beautiful Crutch, is a feast of opposite emotions, alternating between calm and introspective passages and electrified peaks, with the guitar lines by Kristofer leading all those beautiful changes; followed by I Die, where smooth piano notes and the mellow voice by Kristofer make this serene and pensive ballad an amazing listen to anyone. In addition , elements from Gothic Rock from the 80’s and its dark ambience set the perfect stage for another soulful guitar solo by Mr. Dommin. And in Vulnerable, another ballad offered by the  quartet to the Rock N’ Roll ladies all over the world, albeit there’s a strong focus on vocals and lyrics, all instruments end up bringing their share of passion to the overall result.

domminThen Dommin deliver what can be called alternative rockin’ Waltz in the excellent The Flame, with the Volbeat-like vocals by Kristofer and the enchanting keyboards by Konstantine being the song’s main ingredients. In my humble opinion, this is by far the song with the highest amount of creativity in the album, with its rhythm getting more and more addictive the more you listen to it. Madly sounds like a fusion of Smiths, Danzig and Depeche Mode (which could only result in music excellence), with its guitar solos being exactly what the song needed to be even more gripping. To be fair, why songs like this one are not getting played nonstop at rock stations everywhere is beyond my knowledge. Anyway, The Saddest Dream is a somber and modern creation by Kristofer and his crew where Billy and Konstantine generate a fantastic ambience with their instruments, flowing to a very alternative and peculiar form in the end. And lastly, the band offers us Van Halen-like keyboards and a strong feeling of hope in Outer Space, where Alternative Rock and Blues are nicely combined by all instruments. Cameron and Billy once again provide Kristofer all the support he needs for another emotional vocal performance, a constant throughout the entire album.

You can get a sneak peek of each song in Beautiful Crutch by clicking HERE, but of course I suggest you go grab your copy of the album at different online stores such as iTunes and Amazon. I’m sure that, after Beautiful Crutch, the realm of meaningful and passionate music created by Dommin will only get stronger, giving even more stamina and inspiration for the band to keep writing all those love rockin’ songs, keeping the hearts of their fans warm even during the coldest nights of winter.

Best moments of the album: Desire, This World, The Flame and Madly.

Worst moments of the album: Vulnerable.

Released in 2016 DNRecords

Track listing
1. Desire 3:32
2. Show Me 3:31
3. The Scene 4:14
4. This World 3:47
5. Beautiful Crutch 4:07
6. I Die 5:25
7. Vulnerable 3:36
8. The Flame 3:55
9. Madly 3:25
10. The Saddest Dream 6:36
11. Outer Space 5:23

Band members
Kristofer Dommin – vocals, guitars
Billy James – bass
Konstantine – keyboards
Cameron Morris – drums

Album Review – Ways. / Watching From Afar EP (2016)

Mixing several influences and musical styles from Alternative Rock to Post-Hardcore, this up-and-coming French quintet might be exactly what you’re looking for in modern heavy music.

Rating5

ways_watching-from-afarMixing several influences and musical styles, French Alternative Rock/Metal act Ways. might be exactly what you’re looking for in alternative music, offering a wide variety of genres in their compositions that will please fans of heavier groups such as Deftones, Marilyn Manson and Killswitch Engage, to radio-friendly bands like Foo Fighters. And that harmonious but still fierce fusion of styles can be easily witnessed in their debut EP entitled Watching From Afar, a six-track album that nicely summarizes what Ways. are capable of, their main influences and their goals with their music.

Formed in 2013 in Paris, France, this talented quintet brings forward dynamic and melodic music displaying elements from Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal and Post-Hardcore, among others, always keeping their musicality fresh and vibrant throughout the almost 20 minutes in Watching From Afar. You’ll be positively surprised by the band due to all their sudden tempo changes and variations, going from harsh and desperate screams to gentle vocals and smooth guitar sounds. Featuring a sexy artwork by French photographer Sebastien Bessac, Watching From Afar can entertain you at a pub, at home, in your car or anywhere else good music is required.

In the opening track, titled My Blue Stain, a melodic beginning quickly turns into a blend of Metalcore and Alternative Metal, with lead singer Clément smoothly transitioning from harsh screams to clean vocals. Furthermore, it’s easy to notice influences from Deftones and In Flames, among other bands, in all instruments, which is also the case in As A Duty, showcasing a lighter side of the band with Bruno and Nico doing a great job on guitars, firing gentle lines and heavier riffs in sync with the vocals by Clément. Overflowing anguish and melancholy, this nice composition displays hints of Alternative Rock (in special during the song’s calm passages) that add an extra flavor to the overall result. And in Misty Hope, despite starting in a calm and relaxing way, vocal lines keep fierce and deranged, being recommended for fans of Foo Fighters and Deftones in pursuit of a higher level of aggressiveness in music. In addition to that, drummer Tony leads the song’s pace with his rhythmic beats, increasing its effectiveness and appeal for the delight of the listener.

waysThe title-track Watching From Afar is an instrumental track that’s more progressive and introspective than everything else in the album (and also the shortest of all songs), a nice display of dexterity by all band members leading up to the melancholic tune Something To Say…, where the groovy and smooth lines by session bassist Thomas Houche, together with the atmospheric riffs by Bruno and Nico, provide all the support for another passionate performance by Clément on vocals. Watching From Afar closes with Twenty First Sectuary, the heaviest and in my opinion the best composition of the album, getting closer to Melodic Death Metal without losing the harmony of Metalcore. Not only all guitar lines by Bruno and Nico sound amazing in this chant, but Tony also pounds his drums harder than in any other song of the album, translating into more electricity and consequently accrediting it to be one of the best options for the band’s live performances.

You can get more details on the music and career by Ways. by visiting their Facebook page, YouTube channel and Instagram, and if you want to purchase Watching From Afar, simply go to their BandCamp page for a preview of the album and to get a physical copy of it, or you can also get it on iTunes, supporting not only Ways. but the entire heavy music independent scene. As previously mentioned, Ways. can offer you a wide range of heavy, classic and soft rock in their compositions, making your day better with their pleasant musicality and showing you that Watching From Afar is just the beginning and a nice sample of what’s coming next for those talented French musicians.

Best moments of the album: My Blue Stain and Twenty First Sectuary.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. My Blue Stain 3:17
2. As A Duty 4:48
3. Misty Hope 3:17
4. Watching From Afar 2:13
5. Something To Say… 3:11
6. Twenty First Sectuary 3:39

Band members
Clément – vocals
Bruno – guitar
Nico – guitar
Elo – bass
Tony – drums

Guest musician
Thomas Houche – bass (session)

Album Review – Age of Atlas / Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. (2016)

Just hit play and enjoy a feast of heavy, catchy and groovy compositions, brought forth by four promising British musicians who are constantly challenging themselves and pushing the boundaries of progressive music.

Rating4

album-cover-frontIf you have never visited Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, a city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, you’re missing all the vitality and distinctiveness of the city’s culture and heritage. For instance, you can go check their Humber Mouth literature festival, the annual Hull Jazz Festival, as well as several other exhibitions, theaters and concerts. Such cultural richness could only translate into amazing heavy music, which is exactly the case with Alternative Rock/Metal band Age of Atlas, who are releasing their first full-length album entitled Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., following on from their debut EP The Scale of Things to Come, from 2014.

With Peter Measures on vocals, Mikey Scott on drums and the two nearly identical twins Keelan and Kye Beavers on guitar and bass, respectively (which is probably the main reason why they are in perfect synchronicity at all times), this very technical Hull-based group formed in the year of 2012 is highly recommended for fans of the progressive heavy music played by Coheed and Cambria and Tides of Man, among many other distinct bands. Self-recorded at Mikey’s own studio Fruit Trade Music and featuring a beautiful artwork by James Fenwick Illustration, Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. epitomizes everything Age of Atlas are today in a feast of gripping riffs, stunning breaks and poetic vocal lines, obviously pointing to an absolutely bright future that lies ahead for this talented quartet.

The progressive and sharp opening track Sleight Of Hand Of Glory already offers the listener a taste of what Age of Atlas are capable of, with its alternative and psychedelic intro being boosted by the metallic bass lines by Kye before lead singer Peter Measures starts firing his modern poetry (“The thunder in your tongue finger lisps the blood from the thumb / Your hunter handed stitching yearns and breaks and comes undone”), not to mention the elements of Blues and Jazz added to the musicality which end up expanding its range even more. And that’s only the beginning, as the punchy riffs by Keelan and the roaring drums by Mikey steal the show in Natural Sciences, a hybrid of Dream Theater and Gojira with a Hard Rock twist. Despite being considerably heavy for many average radio listeners, I’m more than sure this electrifying tune could still be played at any rock n’ roll radio station in the world and become an instant hit. While that doesn’t happen, you can keep enjoying the intricacy provided by Kye on bass and the spot-on guitar solos by Keelan in For The Feast That Follows, some sort of “controlled craziness” that works really well from start ot finish, bringing pure awesomeness to our ears.

Presenting a modernized ambience, Father Of The Fear Of Falling is a soulful and technical composition where the complexity provide by Mikey on drums flawlessly supports the alternating moments of melodious softness and headbanging riffs found throughout the entire music; while Echoes Of Empire, presenting even more tempo changes and a passionate performance by Peter on vocals, is another sonic experiment for fans of Progressive Metal, with its backing vocals adding an extra touch of liveliness to the song. In The Brackening, highly influenced by Groove Metal but still having Progressive Rock as its core element, pay good attention to the “battle” between brothers Keelan and Kye with their unstoppable stringed weapons while Peter continues to blast his fiery vocal lines. An in Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance the band presents a more mainstream approach through smooth and progressive Hard Rock lines. This can be considered the most generic (or least innovative) of all tracks, albeit being well-crafted and offering a solid performance by Peter supported by the song’s background keyboards.

pic1Background electronic effects, rumbling bass lines and a headbanging rhythm make listening to the excellent Ambering a very positive experience, displaying even hints of pop music in certain moments. Furthermore, the last piece of the song is one of those progressive journeys loved by fans of the genre, which should sound incredible if played live. Then we have Needer, sounding heavier and sharper at first, but getting back to the band’s harmonious experimentations. Needless to say how bass and drums get inside your head and shake your brain in a good way, another remarkable characteristic of the music by Age of Atlas. And the icing on the cake comes in the form of an almost 7-minute aria of progressiveness named Gyromancer: it doesn’t matter if you prefer heavier and crazier sounds or a more serene complexity, the band brings forward all variations of Progressive Metal and Rock in this powerful tune, and the final result will certainly electrify the rest of your day.

As any other creative progressive band, Age of Atlas do not settle down at all and are already working on writing and refining new material for a follow up second album. While we wait for the next chapter in their promising career, let’s visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud to know more about the band and to enjoy more of their music. And as an early Christmas gift (and to show how nice the citizens of Hull are), Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey. is available as a free download for fans who sign up to the band’s mailing list (which you can do by clicking HERE). “We’ll always try and push ourselves in new ways and writing new material, working on new songs, is the most enjoyable way of challenging ourselves.” says vocalist Peter, and we must all agree that as long as they keep challenging themselves and releasing albums like Of Tongue and Tide. Of Flame and Honey., the future of progressive and groovy music looks more than good not only for Kingston upon Hull, but for the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Sleight Of Hand Of Glory, Natural Sciences and The Brackening.

Worst moments of the album: Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing 
1. Sleight Of Hand Of Glory 4:26
2. Natural Sciences 3:06
3. For The Feast That Follows 3:49
4. Father Of The Fear Of Falling 3:43
5. Echoes Of Empire 4:08
6. The Brackening 5:28
7. Dead Eyed Sigils Of Our Failures Against Distance 4:37
8. Ambering 3:25
9. Needer 3:57
10. Gyromancer 6:52

Band members
Peter Measures – vocals
Keelan Beavers – guitar
Kye Beavers – bass
Mikey Scott – drums

Album Review – Witches Of Doom / Deadlights (2016)

The Italian coven of Doom and Gothic Metal returns in full force to put another electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on you.

Rating4

WOD_DeadlightsAfter releasing their debut album Obey back in 2014, I knew it was just a matter of time until Italian Goth-Stoner-Doom Metal act Witches Of Doom returned with more of their mesmerizing Rock N’ Roll extravaganza. Two years have gone by since that amazing album, and here we have the Rome-based warlocks Danilo “Groova” Piludu on vocals, Federico “Fed” Venditti on the guitar, Jacopo Cartelli on bass, Graziano “Eric” Corrado on keyboards and Andrea “Budi” Budicin on drums offering all fans of old school dark music the likes of Type O Negative, Moonspell and The Cult their brand new album whimsically entitled Deadlights which, just like its predecessor, will put you to dance, drink and make love like there’s no tomorrow.

Although I’m not a professional musician, producer or anything similar to that, I must say the upward growth in the overall quality of the album in terms of its production and sound is one of those things that not only helped Witches Of Doom explore new horizons and add new elements to their music, but it also shows how professional those Italian metallers are and how much they are focused on what they do. Thus, due to the enhanced quality of their music and to the brand new songs added to their portfolio, I think the band is more than ready to reach new heights and start spreading their exciting music throughout the world by touring in places like the United States, Canada and South America, either by themselves or as one of the attractions of some music festivals held in those regions.

While we wait for their first world tour, let’s rock to the sound of the superb opening track in Deadlights, called Lizard Tongue, where after an alternative and electronic we are embraced by a modernized goth atmosphere and the band’s pure Rock N’ Roll attitude. These guys know how to bring that magic aura from the 80’s to our present days, with frontman Danilo being better than ever with his inebriate and dark vocals, perfectly declaiming the song’s catchy lyrics (“Daughter of a thousand sins / Angel praying for your last wish / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide / Trick or treat is the only law / Merchant on the killing floor / The city crawls in the dead of night / A knife cuts deep flesh open wide”). In Run with the Wolf, an eerie waltz mixed with symphonic elements in what’s probably their most obscure composition to date, keyboardist Andrea crafts the perfect doomed ambience, supported by the low-tuned bass lines by Jacopo; whereas in Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man), heavier and weirder than usual due to the rumbling bass by Jacopo and the always passionate guitar riffs and experimentations by the band’s mastermind Fed, the listener faces a solid blend of Gothic Rock with Alternative Rock and Metal.

WOD 2016Melancholy and sorrow flow from the beautiful Winter Coming, where Danilo once again provides an additional layer of emotion to the musicality with his vocal lines (not to mention the song’s sorrowful lyrics), followed by Homeless, another shot of wickedness provided by this talented band with the groovy bass lines by Jacopo and the progressive drumming by Andrea enhancing the song’s punch. In other words, this could become a radio hit anytime, anywhere. And get ready to be hypnotized by the Black Voodoo Girl, with its Gothic start getting heavier and darker until it becomes another one of the band’s “striptease” hymns. The keyboard passages by Graziano match perfectly with the heavy riffs by Fed and the somber vocals by Danilo, and you’ll surely have a good time singing its chorus along with the band.

In Mater Mortis, what begins as an epic chant quickly morphs into a futuristic tune, more specifically into an ode to the music from the 80’s with highlights to its awesome keyboards, and this instrumental voyage sets the tone for Gospel for War, a badass Gothic/Stoner Rock chant tailored for fans of Rock N’ Roll pub fights where Fed keeps blasting his excellent riffs while Andrea takes his drumming to a whole new and amazing level of intricacy. And last but not least, bringing elements from non-metal genres like Jazz and Blues to their sounding, the band offers us all the introspective and soulful I Don’t Want to Be a Star, showcasing smooth but fierce piano notes by Eric and strong performances by Danilo on vocals and by Fed with his fiery solos. If you love long and experimental songs with the energy and feeling of Rock N’ Roll, you might have found your new favorite song in rock music.

In summary, the music presented in Deadlights, which features a stunning artwork by Italian artist Carlo Muselli (who by the way is the big boss at Sliptrick Records) and is available on iTunes or on Amazon, has everything a true fan of heavy rock always looks for and more, and in order to know more about the Witches Of Doom, including their future plans and tour dates, don’t forget to go check their official Facebook page. This skilled coven of Doom and Gothic Metal is not among us to simply play some rock tunes, but in special to put an electrifying Rock N’ Roll spell on all of us, lovers of dark and rhythmic heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Lizard Tongue, Black Voodoo Girl and Gospel for War.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Sliptrick Records

Track listing
1. Lizard Tongue 4:13
2. Run with the Wolf 4:49
3. Deface (The Things That Made Me a Man) 5:45
4. Winter Coming 4:35
5. Homeless 5:32
6. Black Voodoo Girl 4:46
7. Mater Mortis 3:01
8. Gospel for War 4:35
9. I Don’t Want to Be a Star 6:59

Band members
Danilo “Groova” Piludu – vocals
Federico “Fed” Venditti – guitars
Jacopo Cartelli – bass
Graziano “Eric” Corrado – keyboards
Andrea “Budi” Budicin – drums

Album Review – Sleep Signals / Transitions EP (2016)

High-quality and organic Heavy Metal perfect for enlivening us up anytime, anywhere, delivered by an extremely promising band from the United States who are just starting to pave their path to success.

Rating4

sleep signals_transitionsBlending elements of the most traditional form of Hard Rock from the 80’s and 90’s and the modern Heavy Metal played by bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, here comes the skillful American Alternative Rock/Post-Hardcore quintet Sleep Signals and their brand new EP, entitled Transitions, bringing you huge doses of electricity emanating from catchy choruses, powerful riffs and a true passion for music. Hailing for the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, this five-piece act is here to stay, aiming at disseminating their high-octane music all over the world for many years to come.

After the release of their debut album Open Your Eyes in 2015, many doors opened to the band in terms of touring and radio exposure, and based on what you’ll be able to hear in Transitions this positive trend is going to continue without a shadow of a doubt. Either by singing about deep and thoughtful themes or by simply offering you a nice soundtrack for a Rock N’ Roll party at your place, you can rest assured the music by Sleep Signals will never let you feel bored or tired at all, always driving the level of energy (and the music volume) up, no matter what the occasion is.

The opening track, Means, quickly grows into contemporary Heavy Metal/Metalcore the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, but with noticeable Power Metal influences.  In addition, lead singer Kyle Hanson has a very potent voice and makes use of it to boost the level of adrenaline in this exciting tune, with the backing vocals providing him an incredible support. Then we have The Harbinger, where the riffs by guitarists Robert Cosgrove and Colin Smith sound heavily inspired by that fantastic movement from the 80’s called NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal), while drummer Taylor Madden dictates the rhythm with his complex and fast beats. And in order to make this song even more memorable, Sleep Signals managed to craft an extremely catchy chorus that will put you to sing along with them instantly.

sleep signalsIn the next tune, Digital Sleep, it’s easy to notice how much they love the music they play, offering the listener a modernized version of Hard Rock with a more aggressive attitude. Besides, it’s amazing how clear and tuneful Kyle’s vocals are and, although any of the songs in Transitions can be played on the radio and become an instant hit, I believe this one is the catchier of all five and a serious contender to become a Rock N’ Roll underground anthem.

Oceanus Borealis brings forward a Power Metal-ish intro that morphs into pure Metalcore in a vibrant semi-ballad, with Taylor and bassist Logan Rieger crafting an uplifting atmosphere for Kyle to deliver an emotional message through his vocal lines. And lastly, the title-track Transitions closes the EP in a more introspective and melancholic way. It’s undisputedly a lot more progressive than all previous tracks thanks to the job done by Robert and Colin on the guitars and Taylor on drums, not to mention its effective backing vocals. And when the song accelerates, it becomes a solid mix of old school British Heavy Metal and modern American Alternative Metal, something quite common nowadays in the world of heavy music, but usually not as good as what Sleep Signals are offering in this case.

In summary, what Sleep Signals deliver in a little less than 20 minutes sounds so solid and thrilling it’s hard to believe this band is just starting their career. Anyway, if you want to know more about them (and also take a listen at their previous material), go check them on Facebook, YouTube and ReverbNation, and don’t forget to show your support for the new by purchasing Transitions at the band’s official webstore or on iTunes. If I had to pick just a few of the several new bands I receive every week as the most promising ones or the ones with the highest potential to succeed in heavy music, Sleep Signals would definitely be among my choices. It’s good, organic and honest Heavy Metal that can be played anywhere, anytime, and that’s all we always look for in music, right?

Best moments of the album: The Harbinger and Digital Sleep.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Independent

Track listing
1. Means 3:58
2. The Harbinger 3:39
3. Digital Sleep 4:02
4. Oceanus Borealis 3:51
5. Transitions 5:21

Band members
Kyle Hanson – vocals
Robert Cosgrove – guitar
Colin Smith – guitar
Logan Rieger – bass
Taylor Madden – drums

Album Review – Bouquet of Dead Crows / Of The Night (2015)

Take a good listen at this classy rock album by a very talented British quartet and you might be able to understand what a “bouquet of dead crows” is all about.

Rating5

bodc_of the nightAlthough it might be a bit tough for most of us to imagine how a “bouquet of dead crows” would look like, a group of talented rockers hailing from Cambridge, UK can definitely help us in turning this difficult task into a pleasant Rock N’ Roll party, especially if you’re a fan of female-fronted bands. This is what you’ll find in the smooth and trenchant Of The Night, the brand new album by British Alternative Rock/Metal act Bouquet of Dead Crows.

Formed in 2013, Bouquet of Dead Crows truly know how to combine big riffs with big melodies, presenting a sequence of very consistent and rousing compositions led by lead singer Antoinette Cooper and guitarist Neil Bruce. Featuring an exquisite artwork by Stewart Harris Designs, Of The Night is perfect for a day on the road by yourself or with your significant other, a relaxing Sunday afternoon or any other situation where you need to soothe your spirit without giving up the electricity we all love in Pop Rock.

Instruments begin to arise from an acoustic intro in the opening track Everything Is Temporary until the beautiful voice by Antoinette Cooper fills your ears with passion and melancholy, followed by Epicentre, showcasing strong bass lines by Graeme Clarke and heavier guitar riffs by Neil to counterbalance with Antoinette’s voice. In other words, this nice tune proves how romantic and metallic the band can sound at the same time, which is also valid for Just A Little More, another great display of Alternative Rock/Metal with some progressive elements added to boost its pleasant rhythm. When this song is over, I’m sure you’ll be eager for more of it.

Graeme kicks off Without You with his resonant bass before it becomes a gentle ballad, focused on its touching lyrics about what true love is (“Hold me close, don’t let me go, because I just can’t go on without you…”). In my humble opinion, this charming song has all it takes to become a radio hit, it’s just a matter of it getting in the hands of the right people. The next song, Drownout, which by the way is another excellent choice for a rock n’ roll radio playlist, provides some “mystery” to the listener due to its elaborate bass lines and guitar solo, including a thoughtful chorus perfect for singing along with the band in a moment of reflection (“Rising up through the current / Must break free / Peaceful water laps at our skin / Letting us be”).

bodc_live 2015Then we have The Fundamental Flaw Of Solitude, a modern Rock N’ Roll chant with hints of Blues Rock and electric performances by Antoinette and Neil; and The Silent Path (Time Goes By), a minimalist but very effective song tailored for lovers of ballads with Folk Rock influences. And adding a good amount of horsepower to their musicality, Bouquet of Dead Crows fire pure Rock N’ Roll the way we love in Don’t Panic!, with the whole band providing Antoinette what’s needed for her to shine and turn this into one of the best songs of the album (if not the best), not to mention another great guitar solo by Neil.

Before Of The Night is over (and showing how well they master the art of switching between high-octane rock music and beautiful ballads), this talented British quartet still delivers the touching Like A Flower, with its poetic lyrics flawlessly declaimed by Antoinette (“The shadows fall away / Lost in the tranquility of the night / The sun warms the face / Tilted up like a flower / Sending the angst astray”), and Endless, a 7-minute rock journey with awesome guitar lines by Neil and another charge of catchy lyrics to sing together with the band, until it reaches its end on a high note.

In case alternative rock music is your cup of tea, you can get in touch with Bouquet of Dead Crows through their Facebook page, and obviously listen to Of The Night and purchase it at the official German Shepherd Records BandCamp page. Perhaps after taking a good listen to the entire album, all by yourself or together with someone you love, you might be able to create a good depiction of a “bouquet of dead crows” inside your mind to the sound of this classy rock band from the UK.

Best moments of the album: Drownout, Don’t Panic! and Like A Flower.

Worst moments of the album: Everything Is Temporary.

Released in 2015 German Shepherd Records

Track listing
1. Everything Is Temporary 3:29
2. Epicentre 3:08
3. Just A Little More 2:56
4. Without You 4:44
5. Drownout 3:47
6. The Fundamental Flaw Of Solitude 4:06
7. The Silent Path (Time Goes By) 2:51
8. Don’t Panic! 3:02
9. Like A Flower 3:50
10. Endless 7:04

Band members
Antoinette Cooper – vocals
Neil Bruce – guitars, ukulele
Graeme Clarke – bass, acoustic guitar
Andrew Coxall – drums, percussion, programming