Metal Chick of the Month – Elizabeth Schall

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So follow me now, you’re falling behind… Have the will to set free…

It’s time to get really heavy at The Headbanging Moose with a woman that not only kicks some serious ass on guitar, but she manages to channel all her passion for Heavy Metal into her music flawlessly, creating some sick tunes that will definitely put you to bang your head and raise your horns like crazy. Of Chilean descent, here comes the incredible metal shredder Elizabeth Schall, an American singer, songwriter and guitarist mainly known for her work with Winterthrall, Dreaming Dead and The Iron Maidens, among several other bands and projects. If you want to know how badass Elizabeth is, let me tell you that some of her biggest influences in music are Iron Maiden, Slayer and Megadeth. Do I need to say more?

Daughter of Federico and Amanda Renee Schall, Elizabeth had to relocate to Chile after living in California, which despite not being easy for her and her family in the beginning it helped them learn to appreciate what they left behind in the United States, not to mention the enormous benefit for Elizabeth as she became fully bilingual then. In regards to music, our kick-ass guitarist started taking accordion lessons at an early stage of her life, switching to guitar later, saying that if it wasn’t for the accordion lessons maybe she wouldn’t be playing guitar today. Due to her exceptional skills as a guitar player, her commitment to learning the instrument and her passion for Heavy Metal, Elizabeth has become a role model for many young women who want to play guitar and play extreme music.

In regards to her career in metal music, she first came into the scene when she was recruited to join Death Metal band Winterthrall in 2003 as their guitarist and also doing backing vocals, leaving the band two years later. It was in September 2005 that she finally joined The Iron Maidens, right after the departure of guitarist and co-founder Josephine Draven, becoming the female version of Adrian Smith named “Adrianne Smith”. Despite leaving the band one year later, in October 2006, Elizabeth rejoined them in June 2010 in a guest appearance as “Deena Murray”. There’s a full concert of The Iron Maidens with Elizabeth on the guitar on YouTube, recorded on August 25, 2006 at Vinnie’s Bar & Grill in Concord, California, which might not be a high-quality footage but at least you can have a pretty good idea of how awesome she sounds playing all the mighty classics from Iron Maiden.

It was in 2006 when Elizabeth formed the band Manslaughter together with drummer Mike Caffell, recording that same year the EP Through the Eyes of Insanity. Following a brief tour, our raven-haired bombshell and Mike renamed the band to Dreaming Dead, recording the albums Within One in 2009, Midnightmares in 2012, and Funeral Twilight (which will soon be reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose) now in 2017. In all three records she was responsible for vocals and guitar, but in Within One our daredevil musician also recorded bass guitar and wrote all lyrics, proving how talented she is and how destined she was to heavy music. If you want to have a good taste of the havoc Elizabeth and Dreaming Dead are capable of generating, you should take a good listen at potent compositions like Midnightmares (you can check the official video for it at the end of this essay), Overlord and Buried.

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There are several other bands and projects where we can find Elizabeth shredding her axe, most of them related to Death Metal with hints of other extreme (and even not-so-extreme) subgenres of heavy music. Since 2013 she has been part of American Death Metal/Grindcore band Cretin, blasting her vicious riffs and solos in songs such as It from their 2014 album Stranger, and since 2014 she’s also been the guitarist for American Death/Thrash/Groove Metal project Dia de los Muertos.  In addition, you can also enjoy Elizabeth on lead guitar on  the song My Secret Things, from the 2012 album Horny Beast by American Heavy Metal/Deathrock band Lover of Sin; her backing vocals on the Cacophony cover Burn the Ground, from the 2008 album Future Addict, by the Progressive Rock/Metal solo project led by renowned guitarist Marty Friedman; and on piano on the 2012 album Results, by American Death Metal/Grindcore band Murder Construct (a side-project of members from Exhumed and Cattle Decapitation). If playing the guitar, the piano and singing is not enough for you, how about her work as a photographer in the 2013 album The Dead Still Dead Remain (a completely re-recorded version of the 2000 full-length The Dead Shall Dead Remain featuring the return of Leon del Muerte), by American Death Metal band Impaled? That’s how skillful our badass Elizabeth is.

Elizabeth, who by the way used to be married to Charles Elliott, lead singer and guitarist for American Death Metal band Abysmal Dawn, cites Swedish musician Peter Tägtgren (Hipocrisy, Pain) and American guitar hero Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore) among her main influences, as well as renowned acts like Cryptopsy, Metallica, and the aforementioned Megadeth and Slayer. If you want to take a look at how our stunning guitar player deals with her beloved instrument, you can watch this high quality video of Elizabeth setting up and tuning her guitar, where she reviews tools, changing strings, tuning (from B to E standard), action and intonation, or also this other video where she talks about and demos her favorite Fernandes guitar and the Fernandes Sustainer.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this short but humble tribute to the amazing Elizabeth is the list of her favorite guitar riffs published on Decibel Magazine in July 2012, where she commented on the most impactful and meaningful riffs in her life, the ones that helped shape up her style and enhanced her relationship with her instrument. In the article you’ll be able to see exactly which riffs from specific songs she loves the most, blending metal and non-metal acts on her list. Obviously, as this is a Heavy Metal webzine, we need to highlight the presence of unmatched classics like Megadeth’s Tornado of Souls (by the way, she said she’s crazy about all the riffs in this masterpiece), Emperor’s The Tongue Of Fire, Type O Negative’s Love You To Death, and my favorite of all by far, Iron Maiden’s all-time classic Aces High. However, you’ll also find other interesting riffs from non-metal acts on her list, such as Los Prisioneros’ Estrechez de Corazon (80’s Chilean alternative pop) and Soundgarden’s Jesus Christ Pose. Well, there’s of course one of her own riffs on the list, the one from the chorus of the song Overlord by Dreaming Dead, but that’s more than expected when the musician in question is extremely talented and her music kicks some serious ass.

Elizabeth Schall’s Official Facebook page
Elizabeth Schall’s Official Twitter
Elizabeth Schall’s Official YouTube channel
Elizabeth Schall’s Official ReverbNation
Dreaming Dead’s Official Facebook page
Dreaming Dead’s Official Twitter
Dreaming Dead’s Official ReverbNation

“I like to think I live in a world where my gender has nothing to do with what I am capable of doing. You go onto YouTube and see 13-year old girls shredding out on metal songs.” – Elizabeth Schall

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Album Review – Sinners Moon / Atlantis (2015)

Directly from Slovakia, this young band shows that there is still plenty of room for creative Symphonic Metal in this world.

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Atlantis_CoverWhat started as a side project in 2010 has become the centre of all attentions of the promising Slovakian guitarist and composer LukeN. Back then, when he had another band in his hometown Sereď, he decided to form Sinners Moon along with his friend Derick to work on Symphonic Metal compositions – the kind of genre which was not easy to find in their country.

In 2011, LukeN started to write new songs while trying to find the best musicians to join them in the band. It was not an easy job: three drummers and two female vocalists had come and gone whether at recording sessions or during their first live concerts. It turns out 2014 was a great year for Sinners Moon as they shaped the line-up with Simona (female vocals), LukeN (guitars), Derick (growls), Jan (drums), Jarthuusen (keyboards) and Viktor (bass), and were finally ready to record their debut album, Atlantis. They could not have chosen a more heavy metal environment to do it: Grapow Studios, owned by the iconic guitarist Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween) was a perfect place to turn into good music all those themes that inspired LukeN and his bandmates such as life, death, dreams, mystery and hope.

In a recent interview, LukeN said how important  Finnish music was as his musical influences and that Atlantis is a personal tribute to Nightwish. So, for those who like Finnish bands like Nightwish and Sonata Arctica, or even Epica from the Netherlands, this album has what it takes to entertain the listener. Speaking of Sonata Arctica, Tony Kakko was a special guest of one of the tracks, My Servant.

With 11 tracks, Atlantis has everything a good Symphonic Metal album must have: charming female vocals in duos with strong guttural vocals, keyboards making amazing orchestrations, virtuous guitar riffs, and bass and drums working in harmony to shape all the rhythm. A good example is the opening track, Inner Demons, which brings together all those elements perfectly to become one of the highlights of the album, with Memento Mori following the same music style. In Buried, the band changes the deep orchestrations to heavy guitars with an aggressive melody that contrasts with the smooth voice of Simona.

sm_band_promoThe next three songs can be seen as perfect tributes to their inspirations: Pray for the Child calms down the tempers and is a nice ballad that, respecting all the differences, reminds of Nightwish’s “Sleeping Sun”, but at the same time with its own personality. The next song, Falls of the Neverland, also resembles some old Epica songs, with the highlight here being the work on guitars making a beautiful melody. As mentioned before, My Servant has the contribution of Sonata Arctica’s frontman Tony Kakko, and this song is completely different from the rest of the album – in a good way. Kakko, Simona and Derick make an awesome vocal trio and the result has the same vibe as some of the Finnish band’s classics like “My Land”, from the 1999 album Ecliptica.

With more than 8 minutes, Fly to the Moon is intense and brings the orchestrations to another level with the addition of other instruments such as flutes. It also has a beautiful solo full of feeling that prepares the listener to what comes next in the song: pure heaviness led by Derick. Dark Episode is another example of a powerful Symphonic Metal song, with choirs, an amazing work on keyboards and Simona showing a lot of drama and mixed deep feelings through her voice. The next song, Sinners Moon, sounds very Folk Metal-ish and also has a stunning work full of rhythm on drums and bass, especially in the beginning when Simona starts to sing. The title-track Atlantis is a complex song with 11 minutes and it could easily be in a Nightwish album – at least it is easy to notice the influence of Tuomas Holopainen’s style in this track full of ups and downs, heavy and smooth moments, layers and more layers of keyboards, choirs and so on. The journey through Atlantis ends with a beautiful piano, violin and voice song, Upon a Star, a simple and perfect way to close such a deep and complex album.

If Symphonic Metal is your kind of music, Atlantis is definitely a must-hear album, and if you like what you see, keep your eyes on Sinners Moon by checking their official websiteFacebook page and YouTube channel, showing your support to them, and of course by purchasing their music at the Inverse Records webstore or at many other available locations. LukeN and Co. are working now to promote Atlantis through Europe and, with this first album produced with such dedication and good quality, we are curious to see what the future will bring to this promising band.

Best moments of the album: Inner Demons, Buried and My Servant.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Inner Demons 5:21
2. Memento Mori 4:01
3. Buried 4:38
4. Pray for the Child 4:26
5. Falls of the Neverland 5:22
6. My Servant (feat. Tony Kakko) 3:55
7. Fly to the Moon 8:15
8. Dark Episode 6:19
9. Sinners Moon 5:08
10. Atlantis 11:04
11. Upon a Star 2:49

Band members
Simona – vocals
Derick – growls
LukeN – guitars
Viktor – bass
Jarthuusen – keyboards
Jan – drums

Guest musician
Tony Kakko – vocals on “My Servant”