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”

Album Review – Nuclear Winter / Stormscapes EP (2020)

Taking on a new twist of an already unique blend of Melodic and Industrial Death Metal, a one-man outfit from Zimbabwe descends upon us all again with an exciting new EP.

After only a few short months, Zimbabwean Melodic/Industrial Death Metal one-man outfit Nuclear Winter descends upon us all again ready to blast the world with his fourth release, a relatively short but very enjoyable four-track EP entitled Stormscapes. After the collaboration on his 2019 album Night Shift, Nuclear Winter’s mastermind Gary Stautmeister decided to strike out on his own and mold the four tracks in Stormsacapes alone, taking on a new twist of an already unique blend of Melodic and Industrial Death Metal with Alternative Rock, proving with his new opus that not only can this Harare, Zimbabwe-based multi-instrumentalist create a rare twist on the tried-and-true Melodic Death Metal formula, but he can push his own envelope in new directions and make excellent new material in the process, undoubtedly making Zimbabwe’s metal scene (and Melodeath in general) truly proud of Gary’s project.

After hitting play you’ll be treated to an imposing and industrialized sonority permeating the air in the opening track Hearts of Stone, with Gary crushing his drums and firing incendiary riffs nonstop, therefore living up to the legacy of Industrial Death Metal and also bringing tons of epicness and obscurity to our avid ears. Then shredding his guitar strings in great fashion Gary delivers the even more atmospheric and dense The Wide Water, leaning towards the Symphonic Black Metal played by Dimmu Borgir at times mainly due to all the song’s phantasmagorical background elements, not to mention how devilish and grim his gnarls are. And Gary somehow managed to get even darker and heavier in The Northern Winds, getting closer and closer to traditional Black Metal infused with symphonic and industrial nuances, barking rabidly while at the same time mercilessly smashing his drums and bass, followed by his personal rendition of Frank Sinatra’s biggest hit of all time New York, New York (check the original version HERE). I must admit Nuclear Winter’s version is not only heavy-as-hell, but it also maintains the energy and thrill of the original version, showcasing Gary’s undisputed talent, his passion for the music he plays, and his utmost respect for the classics.

In a nutshell, it’s truly impressive how Gary is capable of generating such bold sound all by himself, and in order to show your support to what’s most probably the most interesting metal project coming from Zimbabwe you should definitely go check what he’s up to on Facebook, on Twitter and on YouTube, and visit his official BandCamp page to listen to and purchase Stormscapes soon, as well as his 2019 effort Night Shift. The only “problem” is that you’ll have to wait until the end of May to listen to the new creations by Gary and his Nuclear Winter, unless of course he releases one of the songs as a single in the coming weeks to give you a better taste of what to expect from Stormscapes, but believe me when I say you’ll instantly get addicted to his music after listening to his upcoming EP, no doubt about that, opening your eyes (and ears) to the rich but yet unexplored Zimbabwean metal scene.

Best moments of the album: The Wide Water and New York, New York.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Independent

Track listing
1. Hearts of Stone 3:51
2. The Wide Water 3:33
3. The Northern Winds 4:00
4. New York, New York (Frank Sinatra cover) 3:20

Band members
Gary Stautmeister – vocals, all instruments

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 – 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

Album Review – Dark Station / Down in The Dark (2019)

Get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds and soaring vocals by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

In the spring of 2018, five Southern California musicians (Nathan Spades on vocals, Kyle Ort and David Bruno on the guitars, Eric Sinful on bass, and Dylan Roy on drums) came together to form a new band with the ability to seamlessly transition from crushingly heavy riffs to unforgettably haunting melodies and lyrics, leaving their respective project behind. That band is Hard Rock/Alternative Metal unity Dark Station, who are ready to unleash upon us their debut album entitled Down in the Dark, poised to cement the band’s name as a commendable force in the rock world. Put differently, get ready for an overdose of heavy riffs, groovy sounds, soaring vocals and electrifying passages by five talented guys who are among us to prove once and for all that modern rock music is alive and kicking.

A futuristic intro explodes into modern-day Alternative Metal in Ryse, where the groovy bass punches by Eric will make your head tremble while Nathan begins his enraged vocal attack amidst screeching guitar noises, resulting in a beyond solid welcome card by the band. Then drinking form the same fountain as icons like Nine Inch Nails, Marylin Manson and Korn, the quintet fires Heroes, a dark and melodic tune where Kyle and David once again pierce our ears with their riffs, not to mention its ominous aura, followed by New Age, with another wicked intro morphing into rumbling metal music, sounding very atmospheric and heavy. Moreover, Eric and his menacing bass are on fire throughout this headbanging song that perfectly depicts what modern American metal is all about. And Villain is even more alternative than all previous songs, showcasing a great job done by both Kyle and David on the guitars with their flammable riffs while Nathan’s vocals get more obscure and wicked, bringing an extra touch of lunacy to the overall musicality.

No Life sounds like the music from all bands from that period where we got Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace and so on, and although it might not be as vibrant as the other songs, its lyrics match perfectly with the music (“Summers eyes / Frienemies / Car exhaust  / I can’t believe / Something else was inside me / yeah  / You’ve gotta fight it alone now / It’s out of control”), whereas the born-to-be-a-radio-hit Obvious brings to our ears the utterly melodic bass punches by Eric while Nathan darkly declaims the song’s words (“We take the pain / Every day / Could we be the same / On the other side / I’ll try my luck again / Again / You know it’s not enough / For me”).After that awesome display of rock music we have Hollow, another somber, pensive creation by Dark Station where Nathan exhales melancholy from his vocals and with Dylan pounding his drums with tons of precision, also bringing crisp guitar solos and a huge dosage of anger for our total delight.

Leaning towards the most contemporary form of American Alternative Rock and Metal, Misery is a great option to be part of a soundtrack for hitting the road, with all instruments filling every single space in the air, therefore providing Nathan all he needs to thrive on vocals. Ghost keeps the album at a high level of adrenaline, flirting with Industrial Rock and Metal but keeping the band’s core essence intact. Not only that, Eric and Dylan make a very effective dynamic duo, bringing thunder to the music with their instruments; and modernized, metallic sounds keep permeating the air in Locked On, with its background futuristic touch helping enhance the impact of each instrument considerably, especially the guitars by Kyle and David alternating between more serene moments and razor-edged sounds. As their final blast of Alternative Metal, we’re treated to more of the band’s radio-ready rockin’ music in the form of Visions, where slashing riffs are powerfully complemented by the crushing bass by Eric and Dylan’s rhythmic beats, ending in a desperate and captivating way.

What are you waiting for to show those talented Southern Californians your support and appreciation? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, bang your head to their music on Spotify, and get ready to rock to the sound of Down in The Dark sooner than you think by pre-ordering your copy of the album from the band’s official website or from Apple Music. There’s a new age of American Alternative Rock and Metal coming, and based on the quality and electricity flowing from Dark Station’s debut album I’m more than certain we’ll see those guys spearheading that very welcome movement in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: Ryse, Hollow and Misery.

Worst moments of the album: No Life.

Released in 2019 Independent

Track listing
1. Ryse 3:37
2. Heroes 4:19
3. New Age 3:09
4. Villain 3:55
5. No Life 3:09
6. Obvious 4:01
7. Hollow 3:13
8. Misery 3:00
9. Ghost 4:20
10. Locked On 3:23
11. Visions 4:34

Band members
Nathan Spades – vocals
Kyle Ort – guitar
David Bruno – guitar
Eric Sinful – bass
Dylan Roy – drums

Album Review – SiXforNinE / Parallel Universe (2019)

An amazing album of rock and metal music containing nine high-energy compositions overflowing groove and adrenaline, carefully brought forth by four talented musicians hailing from Greece.

It’s time to bang our heads to the groovy and melodic Alternative Metal blasted by SiXforNinE, a four-piece band formed in 2011 in the always fun city of Athens, Greece, who are releasing now in 2019 a brand new and extremely entertaining opus entitled Parallel Universe, a follow-up to their 2015 debut self-titled album being highly recommended for fans of the music by bands like Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin. Comprised of founding members Georga Kapa on the guitar, Herc Booze on bass and Pete Outfox on drums, as well as Fotis Benardo (Necromantia, Septicflesh) on vocals, SiXforNinE have been on a roll since their inception, having already shared the stage with renowned acts such as Monster Magnet, Fates Warning, Leprous, and Memory Garden, and with Parallel Universe representing an evolutionary step in their relatively short but already solid career.

Recorded at DevasoundZ Studios in Athens, produced by Fotis Benardo himself, mixed by Paul Pavao (Disturbed, Stone Temple Pilots, Breaking Benjamin), mastered by Tom Baker (Rob Zombie, Nine Inch Nails, Mötley Crüe), and featuring a stunning artwork by Vagelis Petikas (Revolver Design), Parallel Universe showcases a very special chemistry between all four band members in each of its nine high-energy rock anthems, dealing with distinct topics such as a galactic travel via astral projection and the story of a refugee hoping for a better future. In other words, you better get ready to rock with SiXforNinE, as the Rock N’ Roll party crafted by those four talented Greek metallers doesn’t seem to have a time to end based on the amount of adrenaline flowing from their new album.

The band begins their feast of mesmerizing and groovy sounds in Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining, a lecture in progressiveness by the quartet where Fotis and his Miles Kennedy-inspired vocals walk hand in hand with George’s crisp riffs, not to mention Herc’s rumbling bass lines, followed by the heavier and more progressive Life Devouring Demons, reminding me of some of the incendiary creations by Mastodon. Furthermore, Pete brings endless intricacy with his beats in an awesome fusion of Alternative Rock and Metal with the heaviness of Progressive Metal, while Herc is on absolute fire with his metallic bass. And as heavy as high-end Alternative Metal can be, the band explodes our ears with the melodic and vibrant Bullet Off Its Course, a song that could easily be played in any radio station with Fotis once again stealing the spotlight with his passionate vocals.

Then inspired by the music by Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin and other big names of the alternative scene, George slashes his strings beautifully while Pete’s beats bring groove and thunder to the music in Never Ending Road, whereas in More Than Words Can Say the band blends the heaviest elements from Progressive Metal with smoother rockin’ nuances, displaying a powerful job done by George on the guitar as well as Fotis on vocals, overflowing rage and anguish from start to finish. And it’s time to slow things down a bit and enjoy a pensive and whimsical musical journey by SiXforNinE in Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe), where George, Herc and Pete generate an enfolding ambience with their respective instruments, resulting in almost 10 minutes of ethereal passages and piercing sounds. Not only that, George’s guitar solo is a thing of beauty, adding an extra touch of finesse to a fantastic song that flows flawlessly into a catchy ending.

Very intricate and full of breaks and variations, Out of the Blue offers the listener the thunderous sound of the bass lines by Herc nicely complementing Pete’s wicked beats, being at the same time violent and very harmonious and with Fotis’ roars bringing even more stamina to the song’s already gripping vibe. In Sea of Lies we’re able to witness pure Rock N’ Roll flowing through the band’s instruments, sounding tailored for being played at top volume at a rock pub while everyone is enjoying a cold and tasty beer; moreover, George and Pete couldn’t sound more electrifying with their riffs and beats, also presenting the progressiveness that makes their music so compelling. And lastly, the angry bass by Herc ignites the closing tune Meditation Hyperjam, a sonic extravaganza of badass sounds and tones led by George’s heavy riffs while Fotis fires his potent vocals, putting a truly exciting ending to the album.

If you love rock and metal music with high dosages of complexity, groove and electricity, then Parallel Universe, which you can hear in full on YouTube and on Spotify, is the perfect solution to satisfy your craving. Hence, go check what SiXforNinE are up to on Facebook, including their tour dates, and grab your copy of the album from their own webstore, as well as from Apple Music or from Amazon. Fotis, George, Herc and Pete did one hell of a job in Parallel Universe, and there’s nothing better to show them our support and appreciation than by rocking like there’s no tomorrow together with this hardworking and amazing band coming from Hellenic lands.

Best moments of the album: Life Devouring Demons, Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe) and Sea of Lies.

Worst moments of the album: Never Ending Road.

Released in 2019 Eclipse Records

Track listing
1. Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining 6:12
2. Life Devouring Demons 5:52
3. Bullet Off Its Course 5:00
4. Never Ending Road 4:53
5. More Than Words Can Say 5:02
6. Counting Stars (a Parallel Universe) 9:16
7. Out of the Blue 5:58
8. Sea of Lies 4:10
9. Meditation Hyperjam 5:12

Band members
Fotis Benardo – vocals
George Kapa – guitars
Herc Booze – bass
Pete Outfox – drums