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 – 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 – Federica Lanna

While angels are turning into grace… Demons languish because of their pains…

It’s time to be embraced by the beautiful voice of the stunning Italian singer Federica Lanna, frontwoman for Modena-based Symphonic Metal act Sleeping Romance, here on The Headbanging Moose, and let me tell you that once you are touched by the mesmerizing, delicate and passionate vocals by our metal chick of the month of March, you’ll become addicted to her voice and music. That’s what first-class Symphonic Metal with female vocals is all about, and Federica is here to show us all the metallic scene in Italy is alive and on fire and that her band is one of the most interesting names we should be paying attention to when it comes to symphonic music.

Born on April 26, 1986 in Modena, a city in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region known for its balsamic vinegar, opera heritage, Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars, Federica lives up to the legacy and culture of her hometown, having studied opera singing for around three or four years in her career. She had to stop her course, though, due to the high cost for her at that time, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t resumed her studies in recent years, when she began studying with a speech therapist as well as started working with Italian singer, keyboardist, producer, bassist and vocal coach Michele Luppi (Vision Divine, Secret Sphere, Whitesnake). Federica said in one of her interviews that unfortunately she doesn’t play any other instruments like guitar or keyboards, but who said she needs more than her voice to embellish the airwaves, right?

In regards to her career with Sleeping Romance, when she joined the crew in 2012 the band was at that time still called Hybrid Resolution, playing a style closer to Gothic Metal instead of their current Symphonic Metal. Federica didn’t release anything under the name Hybrid Resolution, though, with the band’s only release since their inception in 2009 being their 2011 five-track self-titled debut EP. The original idea of the band’s mastermind, guitarist Federico Truzzi, was about combining orchestral and symphonic music to rock and metal, which is why it was originally named Hybrid Resolution, but they decided to change the name to Sleeping Romance in 2013, already with Federica as their lead singer, to give the band a darker, more evocative and more romantic touch. Owner of a delicate but at the same time very powerful voice, Federica’s approach when developing her vocals for the music by Sleeping Romance is quite straightforward, as she works together with Federico in order to create vocal lines that not only value her voice, but the entire song. The duo tries different solutions and ranges together until they reach a desired shape and form, with Federico always providing her keyboard drafts to help her with the vocal melodies.

Drawing influences from movie soundtracks and classical music, and playing what can be labeled as “Mediterranean Symphonic Metal”, the band currently comprised of our diva Federica Lanna on vocals, the aforementioned Federico Truzzi on the guitar and orchestrations, Fabrizio Incao also on the guitar, Lorenzo Costi on bass and Francesco Zanarelli on drums have already released two full-length albums, those being Enlighten, in 2013, and Alba, in 2017, as well as a few singles through the years. Since the release of their debut opus, the band has toured quite extensively in Europe, playing mini-tours and one-off festival shows around the continent, including Brainstorm Festival and FemME in the Netherlands, Christmas Rock Night in Germany and many others. There are several videos on YouTube where you can enjoy Federica’s voice (and obviously her beauty), such as Lost In My Eyes, Where The Light Is Bleeding, My Temptation, December Flower, The Promise Inside, and an acoustic version of Finding My Way.

Also, although Federica hadn’t been in any band of certain significance before joining Sleeping Romance, you can still enjoy her gorgeous voice as a guest singer in the song The Final Crusade, released in 2017 by Austrian Symphonic/Progressive Power Metal band Serenity in the album Lionheart. Besides that special appearance, Federica also updates her own YouTube channel on a regular basis with her personal versions for metal and even non-metal songs from an array of bands and musicians, such as Within Temptation’s Somewhere (in partnership with Angela Di Vincenzo, from Secret Rule), Epica’s Storm the Sorrow (together with Alex Lady Owl), and Tesseract’s Tourniquet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As Federica started singing when she was still a child, growing up among Disney soundtracks and her father’s albums (which included classics like Pink Floyd, Queen, Enigma and Enya), her range of influences in music can be considered quite wide. For instance, she loved singing both Bohemian Rhapsody and The Sleeping Beauty, two very distinct but obviously very impactful and multi-layered songs. Apart from Freddie Mercury, Disney movies like The Little Mermaid and her father’s influence, Federica said in one of her interviews that it was when she discovered the music by Within Temptation that she began developing her taste for Symphonic Metal, falling in love with the genre. Among her favorite bands, she always mentions Within Temptation, Nightwish, Evanescence, Rhapsody and so on, also including other bands and styles on her list in recent years, such as Shoegaze, Djent and Progressive Metal.

When asked about the metal environment in her homeland Italy, specially the Symphonic Metal scene, Federica said that, due to the increasing number of amazing bands, the biggest challenge not only for Sleeping Romance but for any band is to be unique, to stand out and not be just a copy of a band which already exists like Nightwish and Within Temptation. She complemented by saying that despite the fact Sleeping Romance is a fairly young band and that it’s an honor for them to be compared to renowned names in the scene, they’re always trying to create something unique and recognizable, always aiming at generating their own sound. Federica also said that metal in Italy is undervalued in spite of all those excellent new bands appearing in the scene, and that’s one of the reasons why she doesn’t usually have a lot of chances to meet other musicians and play with other metal bands in her homeland.

Federica is obviously passionate about touring with Sleeping Romance and playing live, saying that during her first ever tour with the band she hadn’t eaten anything for two days before their first gig in Holland so excited she was then, also saying that tour was one of the best experiences of their lives. When asked about the most important aspects while preparing for a live show, our talented metalhead said that it’s essential for all band members to work, move and look on stage as one single entity, focusing on the songs instead of on their individual performances, complementing her thought by saying that they truly enjoy involving the audience by stimulating their senses and imagination during their concerts. In addition, as a tip to anyone who’s going on a tour with a band, she said touring is not always easy despite all the satisfaction it might give you, and that it’s really important to take care of yourself, bringing with you things like medicine and blankets, as well as being very patient with everyone and everything and be ready for whatever comes during the tour.

Last but not least, Federica said in one of her interviews that finding the perfect lineup before getting into the studio to record a new album is more than essential (which is why by the way she ended up playing with Sleeping Romance, as they changed singers), and that recording an album that truly represents the musicians involved and show the listener the band in their very nature is something Sleeping Romance is always in pursuit of. Furthermore, as the only woman in Sleeping Romance, Federica said she feels like “the princess among the ogres”, saying that the guys can be quite rude sometimes, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t like spending time with them; quite the contrary, that’s one of the main reasons why she enjoys being with them so much as it’s never boring or tiresome. Personally, I believe it’s Federico, Lorenzo, Francesco and Fabrizio who truly benefit from having such talented, beautiful and fun metal woman among them all the time, don’t you agree? That certainly brings a very welcome balance to their lives in the studio and on the road with Sleeping Romance.

Federica Lanna’s Official Facebook page
Federica Lanna’s Official Instagram
Federica Lanna’s Official YouTube channel
Sleeping Romance’s Official Facebook page
Sleeping Romance’s Official Instagram

“I have never thought to be so good to deserve a musical career and then Sleeping Romance came into my life and I experienced a constancy and a love that I ‘ve never felt for anything, and a couple of years ago I also started to teach singing; music gave me my place in the world when I didn’t know what to do with myself.” – Federica Lanna