Metal Chick of the Month – Polina Psycheya

I’ll take you far away to another land…

Brothers and sisters of heavy music, let’s all travel this November to Chelyabinsk (or Челя́бинск in Russian), a city in west-central Russia located in the northeast of the oblast, around 210 kilometers south of Yekaterinburg, just to the east of the Ural Mountains on the border of Europe and Asia, to meet our stunning and unstoppable metal chick of the month. She considers herself a true Russian Viking, always ready for heading into the battlefield armed with her potent vocals and endless energy, and in case you haven’t heard of this amazing frontwoman yet, I bet you’re going to be surprised by how talented, hardworking and passionate about metal she is. I’m talking about Polina Psycheya, whose real name is Polina Sibrikova (or Полина Сибрикова), former lead singer for Russian Melodic Death Metal band All I Could Bleed and current main frontwoman for Portuguese Symphonic Progressive Metal band The Autist, an obstinate woman that takes no prisoners in her quest for heavy music.

Before starting her career as an Extreme Metal singer, Polina had what we can call a normal life in her hometown Chelyabinsk, graduating from МОУ СОШ № 41 (or “secondary school number 41 of Chelyabinsk”) in 2007, and advancing for a degree in Graphic Design from РБИУ (or RBIM – Russian-British Institute of Management) in 2010, a higher education international institute also located in Chelyabinsk. As a matter of fact, even after joining All I Could Bleed she kept working as an artist and clothing and apparel designer, as you can see on her official Facebook page titled “World of Polina Psycheya”, where she usually posts details about her works, tutorials and items for sale. However, it looks like heavy music is her true passion in life, with her skills as a designer becoming a complement to her role as a female growler. And if you think she took any special courses in singing, you’re absolutely wrong, as Polina simply learned how to scream and growl by herself, only training during the band’s rehearsals, always shaping up her own vocal style without copying anyone or anything from books.

As already mentioned, Polina was the frontwoman for Russian act All I Could Bleed starting 2009, but the band started a few years before that, more precisely in 2004 when two old friends, guitarists Alex Sibrikov and Max Melnikov, decided to form a Death Metal band together as an outlet of their aggression. When they released their first single Follow Me, in 2009, Polina was not yet part of the band, with Alex taking care of the vocal duties. However, after Polina joined All I Could Bleed, the band reached its desired shape and form and was ready to take the world of heavy music by storm, with the release of their 2011 debut full-length album Burying the Past (available for a full listen on YouTube) being the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication of all band members to their music. As a matter of fact, Polina not only growled and screamed like a beast in the album, but she was also responsible for the lyrics, cover art and design, proving that although she might not be a founding member of All I Could Bleed, she had definitely become the band’s heart and soul during her time with them.

After the release of Burying the Past, Polina and her bandmates got back in action in 2014 when they released a single titled Debris of Earth, a lot more melodic, more experimental and groovier than all songs form their debut installment. Furthermore, if there’s one thing Polina loves from the bottom of her heart is playing live, and she certainly translates that passion into sheer energy during the band’s live performances. When asked about the idea for their onstage outfits, she said she took the inspiration from dark, ancient and powerful warriors like the Riders of the Apocalypse, designing all the clothing herself, and when she was asked about her first ever concert as the frontwoman of All I Could Bleed, she mentioned it was indeed an unforgettable night for her in her hometown Chelyabinsk, in 2009. Due to the fact she wasn’t writing the lyrics for their songs at that time, her bandmates gave her the task of learning the classic Enemy Within, originally recorded by Arch Enemy, and singing it as part of their setlist. Well, Polina didn’t disappoint at all; quite the contrary, the reception of the crowd at the venue was amazing, inspiring her to keep growling in the name of metal. You won’t be able to find that concert online, but there’s no need for panicking, as you can at least enjoy All I Could Bleed’s full (and absolutely awesome) performance at the Tele-Club in Yekaterinburg, Russia on April 24, 2014, where Polina simply kicked some serious fuckin’ ass on stage.

Apart form her career with All I Could Bleed, Polina has also been involved since 2017 with Portuguese Symphonic Progressive Metal band The Autist, a female-fronted metal project with progressive and symphonic elements highly recommended for fans of truly melancholic, tragic and conceptual music that was inspired by deep emotions we all go through in our lives. The origin of the project dates back to 2014 and is the mind reflection of guitarist and composer Pedro Remiz, who decided to recreate his own musical world after the end of Darkside of Innocence. Also featuring Alina Lesnik (from German Symphonic metal band Once), Chiara Tricarico (from bands like RavenWord and Sound Storm) and several other guest musicians, besides of course Polina as the band’s main vocalist, The Autist have already released two EP’s and one full-length album so far, with Polina lending her slashing roars to the songs The Sanctuary, Ethereal and Pandora’s Curse, from their 2017 album The Coldest Sun, and to the songs The Idol, Anima and Bloodlust, from their 2018 EP Anima.

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Regarding Polina’s biggest idols and influences in heavy music, her list is beyond fantastic, including bands (and obviously their respective vocalists) such as Rammstein, Metallica, Death, Pantera, Children Of Bodom, Arkona, Kreator, Destruction and Motörhead, all of which she would love to play alongside at Wacken Open Air by the way, with Rammstein and Children Of Bodom being considered by Polina herself the two bands with the highest impact on her vocal style and musical direction. In addition, during one of her interviews she was also asked to list the top 5 albums anyone should have in their collection, and once again her choices didn’t disappoint, including Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Death’s Symbolic, Dimmu Borgir’s Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, and Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power. Hence, you can enjoy Polina paying a tribute to several of her idols on her official YouTube channel, recording her own versions to classics like Dimmu Borgir’s Progenies Of The Great Apocalypse (together with German multi-insturmentalist André “Agordas” Groschopp); Arch Enemy’s Nemesis; Pantera’s all-time hit Walk  (recorded with All I Could Bleed during one of their rehearsal sessions); and Death’s Symbolic (recorded during one of All I Could Bleed’s live performances). Furthermore, you can also enjoy other exclusive videos on her YouTube channel, such as Progressive/Melodic Power Metal masters Kamelot featuring not only Polina but also the amazing Kobra Paige live in Moscow in 2017; and Polina herself talking a little about her style, about Death Metal and about Arch Enemy,  and the reason for that is because in the past let’s say Polina wasn’t very happy when compared to Arch Enemy’s former vocalist Angela Gossow. She said in one of her interviews that she didn’t like the comparison because it was only based on sex, not on their vocal styles, as she believes her vocals are a lot closer to Death’s  iconic Chuck Schuldiner’s than to Angela’s. Now Polina is a fan of Arch Enemy, but again, if you meet her don’t waste her time asking about Angela Gossow, right?

When questioned about the current state of heavy music and the metal scene in her homeland, especially the Death Metal scene, our Russian warrior said that despite the huge amount of talented and hardworking bands found in the underground Russian scene, Heavy Metal is not respected and it’s extremely hard to make a living out of it, resulting in several musicians leaving their bands and entire bands calling it quits. In her opinion, the only Russian band that has truly conquered success in Russia and outside of the country is Pagan/Folk Metal institution Arkona, always keeping in mind they were one of the pioneers of the genre and started their career over 15 years ago. On the other hand, she doesn’t think that metal becoming mainstream would be the solution for that because albeit mainstream bands can make a considerable amount of money to support their careers, not to mention touring and recording videos become a lot easier, she believes you can lose or give up your honesty if you’re not underground anymore. In other words, she thinks somewhere in between mainstream and underground would be ideal, and seeing successful but still loyal-to-their-roots bands like Trivium, Primal Fear and the aforementioned Arkona only corroborates with her opinion. In addition, Polina actually thinks metal isn’t thriving anywhere in the world except for South America, and that she sometimes wishes she was reborn in the 70’s or 80’s as those where the decades when metal was the big thing. She also said she doesn’t really care about all metal classifications and labels, as long as it’s metal and an honest way to express yourself, complementing by saying that despite the heaviness and aggressiveness of the lyrics, metal is a lot more honest and inspiring than other styles like pop and rap, where musicians only promote negative things like debauchery, drugs, dullness and false moral values. As Polina herself said, it’s hard to make a living out of metal music in Russia, and that’s why she keeps working as a designer while her former bandmates from All I Could Bleed also have regular day-to-day jobs like working at a music school or on railroad construction, as well as playing in bars and pubs with other projects and cover bands. Not only that, but just like any other regular person she also has her hobbies, all related to her passion for music, for costume designing and for outdoor sports such as hiking and bike riding. Who knows, maybe one day if you’re just walking around Chelyabinsk you might be surprised by our Russian Viking staying healthy and in shape on her bike.

As expected, Polina was also asked to give her opinion on how she sees the increasing importance and participation of women in heavy music, especially regarding the growing number of female singers in extreme music bands, and her answer to that was quite curious. Our gorgeous growler said she has never actually felt like an “outsider” in a male-dominated world, saying she doesn’t “feel” like a woman but just like a Death Metal musician. Moreover, when asked if she’s ever had any issues with fans, Polina said that despite her stunning beauty, her fans have always been very respectful with her, understanding she has always worked hard, always true to the foundations of Death Metal and never backing down, getting full support from all of her followers. And last but not least, still regarding the support received from fans from all parts of the world, when questioned about illegal downloads and all types of websites posting her material without her official consent, she mentioned that in the end that’s not as bad as it looks, saying that exposure in the internet is actually a good thing for unknown underground bands because they end up receiving free PR, and several people who get in contact with the band through an illegal download will buy the album or any other type of official merch, and attend the band’s concert if possible, meaning more money than expected will go to the band’s pockets. Having said that, although Polina herself is not against illegal downloads, I’m pretty sure our metal diva would simply love if you purchased Burying the Past from the Darknagar Records’ BandCamp page or from Discogs, or any of the releases from The Autist from their BandCamp page, showing your true support and appreciation for these two extremely talented bands and their Viking frontwoman.

Polina Psycheya’s Official Facebook page
Polina Psycheya’s Official Instagram
Polina Psycheya’s Official Twitter
Polina Psycheya’s Official YouTube channel

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Metal Chick of the Month – Cristina Scabbia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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